You, Too, Can Live Like Anne Frank!

Ruth Ellen Gruber draws attention to some clueless bad taste:


LIve like Anne Frank, lovely Amsterdam attic apartment.

…Anne Frank apartment has a small roof patio at the back.The apartment comprises 2 rooms, 1 large and 1 small.

One has double bed and other 2 singles. The front room has a double bed and the back room has 2 single beds as well as the bath tub with shower which has low head high in the shower as the ceiling is slopped so not suitable for very tall people.

There is fully fitted kitchen and a separate WC

…Leidseplein the main square full of night bars and clubs as well as restaurants is also within walking distance along the canal making it a nice walk.

In a follow-up piece for the JTA, Gruber tells us that

…I informed a friend at the Anne Frank House about the ad and he assured me that the Anne Frank Foundation, which oversees the museum, would be taking action. The foundation has legal control over the Anne Frank name, he explained. No one can name anything Anne Frank without its permission.

She adds:

For many years I’ve written about how abstract ideas of Jews and Jewish culture can become commercialized commodities in European countries where few if any Jews live today. Clearly there is a correlation between the attempt to use Anne Frank to rent an apartment and the ways that Jews, Jewish symbols and Jewish stereotypes are used in other types of Jewish-themed tourist promotion.

That’s true enough, but I don’t think the lack of actual Jews living in these countries is the determining factor. Many American Christian Zionists also have “abstract ideas of Jews”, which is why Pastor John Hagee, despite his philo-semitism, couldn’t see the bad taste in opining about how God sent Hitler as a “hunter” to persuade Jews to establish Israel. And Jewish culture is also commodified and appropriated by some Christian Zionist groups, as I blogged here.

Swinton Circle Schism Saga

I’m sure everyone is riveted by my continuing efforts (see here) to note developments in the “London Swinton Circle”, a right-wing British organisation dedicated to “traditional Conservatism and Unionism”. I first came across the group a couple of years ago when I was researching a related outfit called the “Springbok Club“, which campaigns for causes such as the return of white rule over Africa (“We want our countries back, and believe this can now only come about by the re-establishment of civilised European rule throughout the African continent”). Both groups are (or were, depending on perspective), run by Alan Harvey, who is British but who formerly lived in South Africa.

However, a few months ago, as was noted in the Guardian, some of Harvey’s political enemies on the right showed up a public meeting of the Swinton Circle and there was some unpleasantness. Certain members of the Swinton Circle objected to Harvey’s conduct, and a meeting was held at which it was decided to remove him from his position and to suspend his membership. Harvey’s response has been to ignore this and to carry on as chairman – and as he appears to be the only person with access to edit the original Swinton Circle website he would seem to be de facto unassailable, at least for now.

Harvey’s perspective on all this is given in a comment he left on my blog here. His enemies, meanwhile, have established a rival London Swinton Circle website, with a better domain name and swishier graphics (Harvey’s website uses a dated 1990s-era template). This new website features a letter addressed to Harvey about the decision to remove him:

The meeting was informed that your behaviour was almost without precedent in the history of the Swinton Circle. We say ‘almost’ as you caused a serious incident after the Simon Heffer meeting in September 2005 when you engaged in a furious and public row with Mike Smith…You are further requested that within one day of the receipt of this letter you remove from the web any pages or web pages which purport to represent the Swinton Circle or pretend to be the Swinton Circle, that you cease to refer to the Swinton Circle when advertising Springbok Club meetings and that you do not pass yourself as acting on behalf of the Swinton Circle or allow anyone else to do so.  Should you fail to take these steps the LSC committee will look at recommendations coming from within the committee that you be permanently expelled.  We will also take formal advice as to any steps that need to be taken beyond expulsion.

I have an idea for a happy compromise: Harvey should continue to run the London Swinton Circle, while the opposing camp should take the name “Swinton Circle of London”.