Anorak News | Olympics Race Row

Olympics Race Row

by | 23rd, March 2006

‘HERE’S a little test for you. We say a name and you try to decode its ethnic origin. Here goes. Oliver Finegold? Is Mr Finegold likely to be a) Muslim, b) Jewish, c) Chinese?

With any luck he’ll be gone soon

Finegold could, of course, be a member of any race or creed. We can change our names. It is possible that what sounds like an adenoidal white, middle class, middle aged male called, say, Ken Livingstone is in actuality an Australian aborigine herding sheep in Wagga Wagga.

But a name does create an instant impression, and congratulations to those of you who answered ‘b’.

So let us try again. What does the name David Reuben suggest to you? Is it a) Iranian, b) Indian, c) Jewish? Think hard. And know the answer to be both ‘b’ and ‘c’. David Reuben and his brother Simon Reuben are British Jews who were born in India.

Hard luck on you who got it wrong. And very hard luck if your mayor is Ken Livingstone, who understood the brothers to be of Iranian origin.

As the Times reports, Livingstone views the two property developers as hurdles to the 2012 Olympics’ building programme.

The Reubens are part of a group wanting to construct a shopping centre, car park and homes in Stratford, East London. A spokesman for the Reuben bother says Livingstone is “misinformed” and they have “worked ceaselessly to try to move the project forward for the benefit of London”.

But this is Ken, the mayor of multiracial London, the man who heard the name Feingold and compared him to a concentration camp guard. The fool.

Surely he would not make the same error twice. So reporters attending the Mayor’s Question Time at the hideous carbuncle that is City Hall were interested to learn that the Reubens were “bad news” for the London games.

Livingstone then suggested, “if they are not happy they can always go back and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs”. Asked by a reporter to explain what he meant by that, Livingstone resisted the urge to compare the journalist to Hitler, and said, “To Iran.”

Iran? But the Reubens are from India. And they are British. Look past any feeling of disbelief you have for Ken aligning the name Reuben with that of Khatami, Khomeini and Ahmadinejad (there are Iranian Jews) and know that Livingstone has not been accused of anti-Semitism.

This time his comments are viewed as being anti-immigrant. As Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain tells the Times: “It’s an extremely unpleasant remark that no mayor should say to any immigrant. This isn’t a Jewish issue but of treating citizens equally, irrespective of origin.”

Indeed. That Livingstone should represent Londoners is a tragedy. That he refers to people’s ethnic origin is shameful.

Next time London Assembly member Murad Qureshi differs in point of view to the mayor, will Ken invite him to see how far his argument goes in Pakistan, or wherever the name Qureshi is rooted?

And what would Ken say to Assembly member Robert Blackman, who is, incidentally, white?’

Posted: 23rd, March 2006 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink