Free Speech and Fake News on Campus

In this post I  explore academia, professors, and their legitimate sounding papers and books that may even use legitimate concepts but apply these concepts fallaciously. I refer to the left, using the ideology of “colonialism” to apply to Israel, and the Palestinian strategy of applying the South African ideology of “apartheid” to the Israel/Palestine conflict, and plain deceptive media like “Electronic Intifada”

Over the years, I have become acquainted with Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of The Electronic Intifada, Jewish Voices for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voices for Peace, Israel/apartheid conferences.

Here are some images of Omar Barghouti.

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And here is his bio on wikipedia:
Omar Barghouti is a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Wikipedia
Born: 1964, Qatar

Note that his first degree was from Tel Aviv University. He is identified with the website Electronic Intifada whose Home page has the following screen today: December 25, 2015 and is an example of the misleading media which employs classic antisemitic methods of lying and deception about the truth of what is going on.

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Of course they don’t tell you that on Christmas eve there were three separate attacks, car jammings and knife attacks on IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians as reported here in The Times of Israel. The Israel news report lists the incidents, the attackers and their victims, and the condition of both attackers and victims.

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This is how it was reported in the Israeli press.

One person was lightly injured Thursday morning in a suspected car-ramming in the West Bank north of Jerusalem, Israeli officials said, the third attack in as many hours Thursday morning.

The army said a car tried to hit soldiers and border police at the Adam junction next to the Rama army base. The driver was shot and killed at the scene, an IDF statement said.

The incident was the third attack of the day after two separate stabbing incidents, also in the West Bank.
Earlier Thursday, a Palestinian stabbed and injured two security guards at an industrial park outside the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Guards at the site shot and killed the attacker during the incident, police said.
One victim, 24, was listed in serious condition after suffering several stab wounds to his upper body. A female guard, also 24, was listed in moderate condition with a stab wounds to her upper body, according to police and the Magen David Adom rescue organization.
Less than an hour later, a Palestinian man attempting to stab soldiers with a screwdriver was shot and killed near the West Bank city of Hebron Thursday morning. The army said the assailant, “armed with a screwdriver, approached a checkpoint near Hebron and attempted to the stab security forces.” The soldiers opened fire on the man, killing him, the IDF said.

Sadly, Since September, Israel has endured hundreds of knife attacks and car rammings on civilians in many cities both inside Israel the West Bank. There have been many dead and many injured on both sides. However clearly the aggressors are the stabbers and terrorists. And the world media largely ignores it because of its anti-Israel bias. Some people call anti-Israel bias – antisemitism. So there you have it!


More thoughts about Yiddish: a tale of survival

Excellent film – the interviews are so intimate, with such depth of emotion, and the editing is right on. 6 minutes into the film.

So why Yiddish…Professor talking about her attachment to Yiddish

Ruth Wisse speaking about Sholem Aleichem and Yiddish humour

Milena Kartovsky performing in Montreal (in Yiddish and French)

the CBC radio interview. all-in-a weekend 8/31/2013


Lessons from Henry Morgentaler and Carlos de Soussa Mendes

Rabbi Kruger and Aristides de Sousa Mendes

Rabbi Chaim Kruger and
Aristides de Sousa Mendes, 1940

Yesterday, a full auditorium at the Jewish Public Library, in Montreal, watched the film about Aristide de Sousa Mendes, Disobedience, made for French television, and we all listened to the moving discussion by the panel, one of whom was Louis Philippe Mendes, the grandson of Aristide Sousa de Mendes, who grew up in and happens to live in Montreal.

This is how the movie, created by French television, is described in a recent post:

Joel Santoni’s powerful drama is a vivid retelling of the moving true story of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul General stationed in Bordeaux, France, during World War II.  His government had issued strict orders to all its diplomats, in a document called Circular 14, to deny visas to Holocaust refugees seeking to escape Occupied Europe through Portugal.  Sousa Mendes defied these orders and issued Portuguese visas to an estimated 30,000 people in May and June of 1940 in an operation described by the Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer as “perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.” Sousa Mendes’ defiance of government’s order was harshly punished by Salazar, ally of Hitler, the dictator of neutral Portugal.

As Louis-Philippe reminded us last night: Aristides de Sousa Mendes’s act of conscience consisted in defying the direct orders of his government and exhibiting courage, moral rectitude, unselfishness, and self-sacrifice by issuing visas to all refugees regardless of nationality, race, religion or political opinions.

The movie shows how all of his heroic work was done over a period of several days with the help of his male secretary, and a certain Rabbi Kruger, pictured above from the archives of the Jewish Public Library, a man introduced by a letter from a friend who Aristide welcomed into his home along with his four daughters at that very time, and his eldest son. Aristide de Soussa Mendes was the father of 14 children and his mistress was also expecting at that very time.

What I really loved about this “you are there” movie recreation were the little vignettes that one witnesses such as the opening which starts with de Soussa Mendes conducting a small orchestra made up of his children playing a compostion by “me, Aristide de Soussa Mendes”: glimpses of his relationship with his wife, and his mistress, his relationship with his son, with Rabbi Kruger, with his loyal male secretary, and with his twin brother. The other reason that it is worth watching this movie is for the glimpse into the process of totalitarian power: the glimpse of how Salazar, the dictator of Portugal, thinks and acts, how he deals with “insubordinationan”, and glimpses of the others who carry out Salazar’s orders.

A moving and gripping story that is a lesson for all humanity and for all time.

The same day, I listened to the Gian Gomeshi interview with Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, son of the late abortion rights advocate Dr. Henry Morgentaler, following his father’s  recent death at the age of ninety.

The outpouring of interviews and reviews unleashed by the death of Dr. Henry Morgentaler, were intense and worldwide, but hearing about him from his son was special. As his son explained, Henry Morgentaler, grew up in Lodz, Poland, facing local antisemitism there, and then at the age of eighteen endured the Nazi invasion which led him and his family first to a ghetto and then being transported to Auschwitz. After losing both his parents and surviving a slave labour camp, Henry Morgentaler, arrived in Montreal, became a doctor, married and had children, and in the course of his work championed medical abortions for women in Quebec and Canada, at a time when the Church considered that sinful, and the laws of the land supported that stance. He went to jail more than once for upholding his values, and eventually won for women the legal  right to a safe, medical abortion in Canada.

Two stories that Abraham Morgentaler, the son, shared struck me as poignant. He shared a story from his childhood. He was perhaps nine year old at the time. He and his friends were arguing about who was the best hockey player in the world, “Rocket Richard or Richard Beliveau”. Eventually, all the kids ganged up on him: one kid said “we all believe that it’s Rocket Richard, so you are wrong!” He was telling his father about this when his father was putting him to bed, and he recalls his father saying very clearly, “It is possible for everyone in the world to say that you are wrong and for you still to be right.”

The other wonderful image was Gian Gomeshi asking Abraham Morgentaler, “What is your favorite memory of your father to which he responded that he would always remember his Dad, at family celebrations addressing the family, and then singing either a Yiddish song or one of his favorite Edith Piaf songs. And I am thinking perhaps, “Rien de rien, je ne regrette rien”?

Just to let you know that although, Aristides de Sousa Mendes died in poverty and struggling to clear his name, since the death of Salazar, his heirs have banded together with community members to share his story. You can read all about it on the site of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. The movie has been shown at many Jewish Film Festivals and private screenings. Currently, the movie can only be seen via arrangement with the Sousa Mendes Foundation.

The following appears on the website:

For information on hosting a film screening, please contact us at
















Knowing he would face harsh consequences for his actions, Sousa Mendes decided to act in accordance with the dictates of his conscience and Catholic faith.
For this adherence to his sense of humanity, Aristides de Sousa Mendes was rendered helpless in a society which no longer recognized his diplomatic status and forbade him from practicing law to earn a decent living and support his family. He spent the rest of his life pleading his case and being ignored time and again by the Portuguese dictator Salazar and his political machine.


The same day I heard

Passover and the Arab Spring in Middle East Media. 2013

Dear friends,

I thought you would appreciate these two videos which I posted this week.

One is a Passover teaching by Rabbi Chaim Stenimetz:

And the second is about “The Impact of the Arab Spring on Arab anti-semitism“, a lecture by Yigal Carmon with video clips from middle Eastern television programs.

Is there any connection? Passover is the celebration of the journey from slavery to freedom. During the Passover seder, we relive this journey. Rabbi Steinmetz points out in the first video that freedom can only begin when and if one begins to question one’s servitude. Without a challenge to the status quo, no movement is possible.

There is no question that the Arab spring was initiated by people asking questions of their leaders, and seeking freedom from oppressive regimes. Has this resulted in greater freedom of expression and has it led to “freedom”? The answer has to be both “Yes” and “No”. We have all seen how the legitimate aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East seem to have been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood.

We often forget that the toppling of the Shah of Iran was also billed as a movement of the people overcoming the dictatorial Shah. Very few Iranians anticipated that the revolutionaries who championed the Shah would be arrested and murdered by him as soon as he took power. Very few, least of all America, in the person of Jimmy Carter, anticipated the stranglehold of the Iranian clergy that would take over the political realm of Iran.

Nevertheless, peoples of the Middle East continue to seek freedoms: freedom of thought and freedom of speech. The contrast between the fascism of the Muslim Brotherhood and some of the Muslim clergy, and the efforts of the people to speak up were both clearly apparent in the talk by Yigal Carmon, founder of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) who spoke recently in Montreal. MEMRI monitors the treatment of Jews and Israel in Middle East media. He shared actual clips from Arab television. First he explained the ingrained anti-semitic (i.e. anti-Jewish) tropes of Islamic culture promoted by important Imams and political figures, even President Morsi of Egypt. Then at the 59:33 point of his talk above he shares a clip from a young scholar which I link here. Dr. SA’id Okasha of El Ahram University on Al-Faraeen TV (Egypt January 29, 2010. If you click on this link you will see for the first two or three minutes, the presentation of the anchor regarding the “facts of the Holocaust” that she has “researched”, followed by the attempt by Sa’id Okasha to refute these “facts”. The debating match between them on live television is an exciting thing to watch. And as Yigal Carmon reminds us, the next day Dr. Sa’id has to go back to his university and his colleagues at El Ahram University.

But Dr. Sa’id is not the only one speaking out. Below I discovered on Youtube an amazing woman in disguise, ridiculing Hassan Nasrallah speaking about the Syrian revolution.

This brings me back to the Passover seder, The annual festival that Jews celebrate as the holiday of freedom from slavery. We forget that modern day slavery, especially the slavery of ignorance, is still very much present in many parts of the world. But the first step towards redemption is the questioning of the status quo.

Happy Passover to all who strive for freedom from tyranny.

Purim, Jews, and the Academy Awards

Ted, voiced by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane, and Mark Wahlberg present at Sunday night’s Academy Awards.

This year Purim and the Academy awards happened to fall on the same day. Personally I thought the show was classy and the most fun in a long time. Seth McFarlane can sing and dance and deliver a joke. I loved the dance numbers and I only fell asleep once. (I read in the paper the next day that Barbara Streisand had been there. I totally missed her!!!)

The next day, there were many articles about Abe Foxman, the head of the Bnai Brith Anti Defamation League, who objected to Seth’s jokes about “Jewish Hollywood.” and a series of responsive essays on why these jokes were the best thing that ever happened to Jews. I think they all have a grain of truth but the funniest aspect is that it all happened on Purim: the day that Jews celebrate an ancient anti-semitic attempt to eliminate them by making jokes and putting on parodies called “Purim shpiels”. Some feel that the whole tradition of Jews and the theatre was born in this tradition of Purim shpiels. Check out my blog which explains this tradition and has a terrific modern day example of a Purim Shpiel video.

Now what’s the back story that validates all of this brouhaha? I have read the book “How Jews invented Hollywood” and watched the recent PBS Television documentary about Jewish song writers and creators of musicals on Broadway. Jews wrote many favorite Christmas Songs like “Silent Night” and “I am dreaming of a White Christmas“. Yes Jews excelled in these areas starting in the early 1900′. The dirty little secret is that they excelled in these areas because they were restricted from other occupations by anti-semitic social structures. What you did not know that anti-semitism was alive and well in the US at the turn of the century? It was, especially a part of the upper classes. A very good book that illustrates this social phenomenon is “An Orphan in History“, a memoir by Paul Cowan that shares the history of two Jewish families, his paternal and maternal parents and grandparents living in the US since the 1850’s. Jews were restricted in universities, corporations, and lawyers’s firms even in the United States of America even into the 1950’s. Read Dershowitz’ book “Chutzpa” where he talks about graduating from Harvard Law School in the fifties, and being unable to get a job in any firm, because they did not want any Jews. Yes, he had to start his own firm. Independence is the name of the game. Jews have always had to thrive in spite of anti-semtism. During the middle ages in Europe they were restricted from farming, and so had to engage in commerce to make a living. Also lending money was forbidden by Christian laws so Jews became the only legal money lenders. But I digress.

This morning I was shmoozing about the Academy awards issue with my trainer who is a practicing Mormon. He was telling me about the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” which has been having a strong Broadway run for the last four years. Yes it makes fun of Mormons, but it also shares their story and he loves it. Similarly, he was telling me how he loved “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat”  because the music and the parody still tell the wonderful Joseph story in all its details. Then he said; Could you ever imagine something like that using the Koran as a base text?  End of story.







Jonathan Spyer: Anti-Semitism in Islam and the West

Jonathan Spyer

Prof. Jonathan Spyer is a Journalist and academic currently working out of Jerusalem. He recently made 2 trips into Syria and survived to tell the tale. Last week, he was in Montreal speaking at McGill University for the ISGAP (Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy) lecture series, Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective. His talk was about Antisemitism in the Middle East (here is the full lecture Video), historically and in the present.

He reviewed the two theories re Islamic anti-semitism, the “modernist” and the “perennial” theories. The modernist theory, espousing the idea that Middle Eastern anti-semitism is imported from the West and related to the rise of Israel as a state. The perennial theory of Islamic anti-semitism that traces its origins to the beginnings of Islam in the 6th. century. In reviewing these theories he points out how they interweave to create the current ideas and attitudes in the Middle East and also how they compare with Western anti-semitic ideology.

Interestingly, the Jew could survive in Arab lands only if he was a defeated and weak figure of ridicule and contempt. It is for this reason that the rise of contemporary Israel is such an affront to Islamic ideology. It is also in this context, we can understand the terrible current affront to Islam when Jews, who are supposed to be weak, inferior, and ridiculous (monkeys etc.) are in possession of Jerusalem, a seminal Islamic holy site.

By contrast, the Jew, historically in western Christian mythology is a dangerous, powerful, and treacherous, figure who nevertheless must not be killed because his presence attests to the historical Jesus, and the second coming of Jesus is dependent on the conversion of all Jews to Christianity. With the relaxation of Christian ideology in the 19th century and the rise of secularism and science, 20th century western style antisemitism was born based on 19th century “scientific theories of race”. Here the picture of the “Jew as a treacherous, moneygrubbing figure” became etched in biology, leaving absolutely no exit for Jews living under Nazi ideology and sovereignty.

Spyer had an interesting response to the question of whether anti-zionism is the same as antisemitism. “Zionism” was a movement to advance the creation of a Jewish state and there were groups debating pro and con. However, once Israel was created, one can only speak about being for or against the abolishment of the existing State of Israel. Therefore, anti-zionism is not about criticizing the state of Israel but is a screen for the Arab wish to destroy the state of Israel.

Spyer also answered a question about his recent trips to Syria and in a few words conceptualized Obama’s Middle East foreign policy. He states that although Obama’s intentions regarding relations in the middle east were well meaning, they have unbalanced relationships that have held for years. Resulting in a situation that makes the US appear weak towards their enemies and endangers the countries with whom the States have typically been allies.

Spyer is able to concisely summarize Obama’s missteps in the Middle East.

He states that “Obama appears to have thought that by expressing Empathy and understanding of Middle Eastern cultures via his Cairo speech in 2009, he could open dialogue and repair the damage that he perceived had been caused to the American image in the Middle East by the Bush policies. He then proceeded to not back long standing allies of the US, Tunisia and Egypt and Libya, and also not to confront long standing enemies of the US in the Middle East, Iran and Syria. In this way he degraded the US strategic coin in the era. Those who had relied on the US are now dead or in jail and those who had relied on other patrons, were glad that they chose the “right” side – witness Bashar Al Assad who has waged a war against his own people with the support of Russia and China for over a year, and no interference from the US or Western Allies. And this is exactly the opposite of what is needed to have a voice in the Middle East, i.e. one must show that one’ allies can rely on you and that your enemies must fear you.  This is how Israel has managed to maintain some semblance of peace in a very dangerous area of the world. And this is how Obama has seriously devalued the American Strategic coin in the region.” (emphasis mine)

I invite your comments.

Alan Dershowitz Delegitimization of Israel: Video in Four Parts

Alan Dershowitz, Yale graduate, Harvard law professor, who considers himself a dyed in the wool liberal, spoke about the current dynamics of de-legitimization of Israel in Europe, the US, and on college campuses  at the Shaar Hashomayim, (Montreal 9/15/2011) – Defending Israel from a Liberal perspective.The full lecture which included a dialogue between Allan Dershowitz and Irwin Cotler, the Liberal MP, former Canadian justice minister, law professor and human rights activist discussing the current state of affairs in Israel and the Middle East is captured below in four parts.

Part two of the talk reviews Dershowitz’ experiences in Europe, where he is blackballed by universities from speaking and has had to suffer the accusations that “Israel is worse than the Nazis!!!!”. The inroads that Arab Islamists and Palestinians have made towards delegitimizing Israel are truly shocking as per Dershowitz’ experiences in Europe.

(Parts 3 and 4) a discussion between Allan Dershowitz and Irwin Kotler is also worth watching as it shares the experiences of two individuals, both law professors, one a former Canadian minister of justice and a current member of the Canadian parliament, who have confronted these issues over many years.


Israel a Totalitarian Regime?

After participating in the BDS lectures on campuses, and several conferences regarding Palestinian strategies of the delegitimization of Israel, including several put on by CIJR, SPME, and The Jerusalem Post Conference, I felt I had to respond to the recent show in which George Stroumbouloupoulos, popular CBC talk show host, waded into the quagmire of Israel/Palestine debate. Here is the letter which I just e-mailed to him and I share with you.

george strombopolous

George Strombopolous host on CBC

From: Abigail Hirsch
Subject: Israel A totalitarian regime?
Date: 20 May, 2012 7:34:36 AM EDT

Dear George,

Generally I watch your programs and admire your fast paced style of interviewing entertainers. However when you have guests like George Galway, a well known anti-semite, and Ken Finkelman, who claims that Israel is a totalitarian state that controls its own citizens and the West Bank, and you say nothing, you are treading on dangerous territory. I feel that words matter. I am sure that you do too. Honest Reporting has written the following rebuttal to your guest Ken Finkelman’s assertions that Israel is a totalitarian state, that supposedly controls its own citizens and also those in the West Bank. Israel: a “Totalitarian Regime”? CBC’s Stroumboulopoulos Allows this Statement to go Unchallenged

I might add that Israel has a standing citizen’s army since 1948. The majority of the citizens support the government’s policies because the Palestinian leadership has been exposed as hostile, corrupt, and uncompromising, and insistent on continuing its’  total dependence on UNRWA – millions of dollars from the UN that supports only one group of refugees in the world – the “Palestinian refugees”, who have become pawns in this ongoing conflict between Israel and the Arab world since 1948.

Usually I am an admirer of your program. When you wade into the Israel/Palestine conflict, you are treading on very dangerous territory. Its a sad history of calumny that borrows from Nazi ideology and is spread by intellectuals as was the Nazi ideology. It was George Orwell, commenting on the Nazi ideological situation in Germany who said, “There are some things that only an intellectual would be stupid enough to believe!”

Here is the prominent journalist Brett Stephens speaking about the double standards applied to Israel and news about Israel.

And here is an important recent address regarding the silence of citizens in Europe that allowed the Holocaust to go forward.

Anti-Israel Palestinian ideology supported by countless UN resolutions, has the support of anti-Israel anti-Semites all over the world. Don’t become one of them through silence or ignorance.

Abigail Hirsch
CEO, AskAbigail Productions

CUTV and its slanted reporting and libelous behavior towards myself

I recently encountered two volunteers from CUTV at the Segal Center, where they were reviewing a play and inviting comments. They invited me to be interviewed and when I learned they were from CUTV, I shared with them my grievance with the station. The fact that since Laith Marouf has become station manager of CUTV, He personally called me a “racist” and barred me from participating as a volunteer, an action I consider libelous. (I had been a full fledged volunteer in good standing for two prior years)  and the reporting at CUTV has become slanted to support the Palestinian cause using student funds to advance these aims.

CUTV was started by Ralph Lee, a Concordia student, to further worthy causes in the community and it has done so over the years. However, recently I received this post from CUTV.

Date:     January 26, 2012 12:17:04 PM EST


Each year in May, Palestinian refugees mark the exodus from their homeland by a demonstration called Nakbah. CUTV covered the 63rd Nakbah demonstration in Montreal as one thousand strong gathered to educate the public on their plight. In 1948, 7 million Palestinians were expelled from their homes and their villages destroyed. 63 years later, Israel continues to occupy and colonize Palestinian land through the construction of Jewish only settlements which the protesters say is in direct violation of international human rights. Their slogan is a quote by Nelson Mandela stating that Palestinians do not want a state, they want “freedom, liberation and equality.”

I wonder if you can find the propaganda and lies hidden in this seemingly journalistic statement. For one, seven million is a gross exaggeration of the number of refugees who fled Israel. PS: They were not expelled and we have proof of this.

This is what has been termed “stealth jihad” and I wonder if Concordia students are aware that their student dollars are going to support this biased reporting. Many well meaning volunteers spend countless dedicated hours contributing to CUTV. They need to understand the direction that CUTV is taking and that certain members of CUTV, Laith Marouf and Laura Kneale, are pulling it towards. I know that you, dear students, would also want to address the issue of the student airwaves being hijacked.

On the subject of Israel/apartheid and the Boycott Divestment Sanction movement which has now been recognized as a slanderous and anti-semitic program against Israel, I invite you to listen to Prof. Gerstenfeld who spoke on this topic at Concordia University.

I invite your response and ideas for how to address this issue on our campus. Yes, I too am a Concordia student.

What’s going on at the New York Times?

third jihad

Having lived in New York City for many years I always revered and enjoyed the New York Times until l began to hear that some people were boycotting it for it’s anti-Israel reporting. I started looking at it more carefully and just today I noticed two disturbing reports that I would like to share with you.

Have you noticed the reporting in the New York times about CAIR demonstrating to have Ray Kelley, New York City Police commissioner, dismissed? The reason for the demonstrations is that he showed the film ” The Third Jihad.” as part of his officers training to anti-terrorism squads. I am very pleased that the makers of the film “The Third Jihad” have put out a youtube video documenting the smear tactics used against their film, The Third Jihad and  Ray Kelley by the New York Times reporter.


An article in Commentary Magazine also caught my eye, New NYT Jerusalem Chief Reaches Out to Israel-Bashers and again I lost all respect for the New York times’ choice of editors. It is reported here that the New Jerusalem bureau chief has been tweeting Ali Abunimah. I happened to have heard Ali Abunimah speak at the last Israel/apartheid meeting in Montreal. He has an impressive English academic accent. I could not believe what came out of his mouth as a response to a question I posed to him at that meeting. By the way, I audio recorded it if anyone has any doubts about what he said.

I asked him how he thought the Jews who have been expelled from Arab lands and are living in Israel would be treated after the Palestinians get to take back “their country” i.e. the current State of Israel. He said to me without a moment’s hesitation, “They would be welcomed back to the countries from which they were expelled” How bizarre is that? Can you see Iraq, Egypt, Lybia, Syria or Iran welcoming Jews back any time soon?  I wish it were so!!! And that there was free access, without fear of arrest and beheading, to all law abiding citizens, in all of these countries. Coming from The New York Times, it’s all quite shocking.

I welcome your comments.