The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

Polite debate should always be encouraged, except on Thought for the Day.

Also, there’s a Big Jewish Festival coming up. Happy Birthday universe! On this day, several thousand years ago, the Invisible Magic Friend created everything. This is also not open to debate.

8 thoughts on “The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

  1. In the OT, tribalism was a good thing… but it’s now a bad thing. I’m glad that’s clear.
    BTW when hearing someone say ‘Rosh Hashanah’, I’m reminded of the ‘That’s Life!’ dog saying ‘sausages’/’shoshidges’.


  2. I know that Matt2112 won’t mind, but I find myself needing to quote my own Big Book of Magic Stuff (1981 edition) again. Sorry about that.

    The night is black, without a moon
    The air is thick and still
    The vigilantes gather on
    The lonely torchlit hill

    Features distorted in the flickering light
    Faces are twisted and grotesque
    Silent and stern in the sweltering night
    The mob moves like demons possessed
    Quiet in conscience, calm in their right
    Confident their ways are best

    The righteous rise
    With burning eyes
    Of hatred and ill-will
    Madmen fed on fear and lies
    To beat and burn and kill

    They say there are strangers who threaten us
    Our immigrants and infidels
    They say there is strangeness to danger us
    In our theaters and bookstore shelves
    That those who know what’s best for us
    Must rise and save us from ourselves

    Quick to judge
    Quick to anger
    Slow to understand
    Ignorance and prejudice
    And fear walk hand in hand

    Mervis said one important thing here, which was that society has lost (is losing) the ability to deal with complexity and nuance. In the list of two-digit integers, 49 and 50 are neighbours. If we divide the list into two and take the averages, they find themselves miles apart and in the company of the extremists.

    We are closer to many on the opposite side of a debate than we are to some on our own side of it.


  3. In order to understand what drives people who have opposing ideas to mine, I watched one of the videos of a recent Brexit party meeting; Doncaster I think. There was huge emotion but very little policy put forward or discussion of facts. “We Want Out” and “We are being robbed of our democratic decision” were the main points of most of the speakers. Discussion of taking back control of fishing where 11000 people work and which is 0.1% of our economy and is halfowned by foreign companies got the biggest cheer of the night. There were also complaints about Britain having to join a Euro army which have been thoroughly disproved.
    Emotion is what drives division and not facts. If I were to try and talk a doubting Christian, Jew, Muslim or Hindu out of their religion it would be difficult because they have such an emotional attachment to it. A recent Sun leader was suggesting that Remainers had a religious attachment to their position – I would argue that it is the other way around.


    1. “Discussion of taking back control of fishing where 11000 people work and which is 0.1% of our economy and is half owned by foreign companies got the biggest cheer of the night”

      The situation with regards to fishing seems to be complicated. As there has been no attempt so far to replicate Common Fisheries Policy quotas, some fishermen will have a free for all on Nov 1. That should be fun until the price drops. As there would be no quotas in British waters any more, the same would presumably apply to European fleets and they would be able to land as much fish as they could catch, unless they were unlucky enough to get caught by one of the 12 British patrol boats allocated to police the entire British coastline.

      For others, a no deal brexit would be a disaster as they would immediately loose barrier free access to their European markets. In many cases these consist of fish that don’t sell in the British market.

      Whether on balance this would be beneficial to the UK fishing fleets is really unknown. As with everything else on brexit, it will simply be a huge roll of the die unless a sensible transition period is agreed.

      Incidentally, I read somewhere that our representative on the European Parliament’s fisheries committee was one Nigel Farage, who attended 1 out of 42 scheduled meetings. Presumably that single meeting was sufficient to represent British fishing interests, as I believe he continued to collect his salary.


      1. It gets even more complicated. UK would still be a signatory of the Freedom of the Seas convention so would still be obliged to give access to other fleets , and enforce quota regulations. The main point though, is that the idea of British fish, for British fleets is a populist myth. The first never existed, the second barely does due to UK Government, not EU policies.


    1. Thanks Andy, that’s a useful article. What it doesn’t mention is that when the UK joined the EEC, we were allocated quotas in proportion to what we had been catching before then. Many of the quota-holders promptly sold their quotas to Spanish or French fleet-owners. Therefore much of the whingeing about quotas in recent years is pretty spurious.

      As for Mervis, I guess his diagnosis is right, but what’s his remedy? Hanging his homily on the supposed anniversary of something that never happened doesn’t exactly help!


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