On Mon, 28 Dec 2020 10:07:38 +0000, Jenny M Benson
Post by Jenny M Benson Post by Peter
Also among the recently dead is George Blake.
The announcement by the Beeb of his death prompted unresolved questions
between my sister and I which I said I would put to Umra for comment.
The announcer began the description of GB by saying that he was a Jew.
Why? Given that he was a Communist, this probably didn't refer to his
religious persuasion, but I don't think a person's religious persuasion
would be mentioned in an obituary unless it was relevant to their career
or life story. It presumably then referred to his ethnic heritage. But
why are Jewish people so often singled out for mention of their heritage
when it is not relevant to the context? Is it all part of the
so-prevalent anti-Semitism which I have never understood. (I mean I
have never understood WHY there is so much anti-Semitism.) GB was
apparently born in the Netherlands but described as a "British spy" -
which could have meant "spied for the British" or "of British citizenship."
I know we have Umrats of Jewish heritage. Would you not object if
someone said "X, who is Jewish, posted a funny joke on Umra to-day"
rather than just "X posted a funny joke ..."?
I didn't hear the broadcast to which you refer and would have been
quite taken aback if the announcer had used the word Jew on its own.
As The New York Times put it: "He was born George Behar in Rotterdam
on Nov. 11, 1922. His mother was a Dutch Protestant; his father,
Albert, was a Spanish Jew born in Turkey who fought the Ottoman Empire
in World War I and was wounded, cited for gallantry and given British
The mention of his mixture of heritages in this and many other
obituaries was to explain why Blake said that he never identified with
any of his backgrounds and didn't consider himself a traitor because
he didn't consider himself British. Whether or not you agree with
Blake's stance, I think that unraveling his heritage and his history
in the Netherlands and elsewhere goes some way to explaining how he
arrived at his philosophical position.