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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  September 14, 2017 4:30am-5:01am BST

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this is bbc news headlines. hello. this is bbc news with their headlines. —— the headlines. it's emerged eight residents of a florida nursing home died after hurricane irma knocked out its power and air conditioning when it hit the state on sunday. a number of the 115 other residents remain in a critical condition. police have launched a criminal investigation into the deaths. the un secretary general has called on myanmar to end the military violence which has forced hundreds of thousands of rohingya muslims to flee. antonio guterres said the situation in the refugee camps in bangladesh was a humanitarian catastrophe, with women and children hungry and malnourished. the president of the european commission, jean—claude juncker, has told the european parliament that britain will soon regret its decision, to leave the eu. in his annual speech on the state of the european union, mrjuncker also outlined his plans for a more integrated eu. now on bbc news, it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i am stephen
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sackur. is the way we use words changing? most of us probably write less tha n changing? most of us probably write less than we used to. read less than we used to. and spend far more time staring at screens and tapping out messages. does it matter to our relationships, our politics, our culture ? relationships, our politics, our culture? our guest to day in skimmed is does. howard jacobson‘s meditations have won him awards, including the man booker prize. but is he an artist swimming against an irresistible cultural tide? howard
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jacobson, welcome to hardtalk. irresistible cultural tide? howard jacobson, welcome to hardtalki irresistible cultural tide? howard jacobson, welcome to hardtalk. i am delighted to be here. thank you for having me on. i want to ask you to reflect on a long writing career. how long, do you think, it took to you to find your own authentic writers' boys. 20 years. 20 years from finishing university, and thinking i was out in the world, and ready to write, and 20 years before i could write anything that can be look like a book. i'm tempted to ask, then, what kept you. that is what many people asked. especially those who thought i would never be a novelist. my father used to say, well, where is it, then? that spurred me on. that must have annoyed you. i think my problem was
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that perhaps a bit over educated. i had been educated to review the classic so much, too revered dh lawrence and tolstoy and dostoevsky and dickens. ifi lawrence and tolstoy and dostoevsky and dickens. if i could be them, i didn't want to be anyone. so you wa nted didn't want to be anyone. so you wanted to be literary. perhaps you are confident in your own take on the world and your own voice, that it was worth listening to? dead right. if what you had been reading was the great writers, and i revered them, and you think you do not measure up them, and you think you do not measure up to that. at 18 or 25, i did not measure up to dostoevsky. i would not say they measured up to now, but i was certainly nowhere near that. it was by lowering my expectations of what i was going to do, and writing not a great, massive, tragic novel about the state of the world, but a comic novel about what it is like to be a midlands polytechnic lecturer. that is what i got going. what do you
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think changed for you, for a guy who wa nted think changed for you, for a guy who wanted to write in a literary fashion in his 20s, but could not find the means or the confidence? what changed for you ? find the means or the confidence? what changed for you? it was partly lowering not just my what changed for you? it was partly lowering notjust my expectations, but my ambitions. i could not write a great tragic novel, so i finally decided i would do something that i play could do, which was be funny. i knew i could be funny. i have been able to do essays at university that made my lecturers love. but these knobs on the literary world has never really rated funny. no, they haven't. —— the snobs. nevertheless, it got me going. and before, people thought this is a comic novelist, we know we think of him, they were surprised by my writing, because they had never seen anything like it before. so you decided to be funny. what about jewishness? yes, yes. you
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are onto something. i never thought i would write about being jewish. i am interested in being jewish. but... use a that your parents didn't go to synagogue much, they didn't go to synagogue much, they didn't expect you to be... not at all. i had a bar mitzvah, and that was it. my father hoped that i would marry a nice jewish was it. my father hoped that i would marry a nicejewish girl. i am married a half nicejewish girl. a half... you married several times. .. laughter. what i know about jewishness now, i have found out to my reading. i was in a community they did not care very much about it. it was a very nice secular community i corrupt in manchester, in the 50s. we were the second or third generation. —— i grew up in in manchester. we had come from central and eastern europe, and they wanted to forget where they had come from. they wanted to be english. they wa nted they wanted to be english. they wanted to go to english universities
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and read english books. i was totally a nd com pletely and read english books. i was totally and completely english, and had his extra card to play whenever i wanted it, which was being jewish. no more than that. but look, nobody can explore thejewish consciousness without running out to make up pretty quickly —— running up pretty quickly against the most tragic events of the 20th century, but you can go back years. thejewish story isa can go back years. thejewish story is a story that has been woven through with suffering. but my question to you is how easy has it been for you to find the laughs, the humour, the light side, in anti—semitism, in the holocaust itself, which you have also taken on, in at least one of your novels? imean... on, in at least one of your novels? i mean... have you do it? it is what we do. —— how do you do it. it is the very thing we do. jews make very good jokes. some say that the best
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jokes in the world arejewish or aboutjews. jokes in the world arejewish or about jews. it jokes in the world arejewish or aboutjews. it is going to be about jews, then only the jews aboutjews. it is going to be about jews, then only thejews can really tell it well. the reason for that is precisely because we know that life is not funny. if you are jewish, your history tells you that life is not funny, and everything ends up badly. out of that, out of that grows a particular kind of morbidity, a kind of bleak in expectancy which permeates the best joke. people fall around and do ba na na joke. people fall around and do banana skin jokes are not to be funny. and that has not been my comedy. to bejewish is to make jokes. to be a jewish writer is to need to be, in some way another, a comic writer. but to what extent do you fear that you are a little exclusive in his pursuit of a very jewish consciousness? it is riven through all of your... in one of your books, kalooki nights, you describe it as the mostjewish books ever. and i remember the finkler question, and i am notjewish. i enjoyed it, and it was a
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prize—winning book, but they did to myself, i wonder how wide the readership for this book will be forced up you ever wonder about that? yes. when i finish the book, the normal order is my wife is is a book. she says we like it, butjust be us. my agent said he really liked it, but it could just be the three of us. nobody that i showed it to thought it was great to travel. because it was too jewish? yes. because it was too jewish? yes. because the idea of a novel centred around two —— two men in london stanier and talk aboutjewish. .. it was not private to the people who bought the book. many jews after private to the people who bought the book. manyjews after reading this askedif book. manyjews after reading this asked if the non—jews get this. and the is yes. they do. unless they are few together. they do get it. being
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jewish, and we have had enough jewish, and we have had enough jewish history and contest is to have an idea about what it is about. everybody is a bit ofjune, really. it the outsider. the english have a lwa ys it the outsider. the english have always been interested in jewishness, the puritans were. the jews came up with christianity, is don't forget. you are speaking to a jewish perspective right now. those who are not might be thinking, to coina who are not might be thinking, to coin a phrase, enough already. i am interested in one particular aspect which comes up in the think the question. i will talk about the political aspect of it in a bit, and thatis political aspect of it in a bit, and that is anti—semitism. in the book, there is one character who says anti—semitism was becoming again what it had always been: an escalator that never stopped, in which anyone could hop on at will. that is a pretty discomfiting line of narrative. anyone can hop on to
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anti—semitism at will. do you really feel that? well, what they mean by anyone? put it this way: people hop on and hop off it. anti—semitism has its moments and goes away. it is having a moment again in our time. i wrote a novel five times ago —— five yea rs wrote a novel five times ago —— five years ago, a dystopian novel called j. years ago, a dystopian novel called j, which imagined a world without jews. because they decided with what was going on in europe, with 70 on jews, could it be, after such a short period after the holocaust, it could be here again? —— with so many attacks on jews. could be here again? —— with so many attacks onjews. the could be here again? —— with so many attacks on jews. the fact that it was there again without much weight made me wonder that was eternal. it is the jew and eternal other? made me wonder that was eternal. it is thejew and eternal other? we know that every society needs and other, somebody they can blame for
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what is going wrong. —— an other. the jews have what is going wrong. —— an other. thejews have been blamed for what has been going wrong for a couple of thousand years. you would have thought that it would have stopped. i have not had a hard time in this country. i have added easy time in this country. i want to say that i can move freely in this country, touch wood, without anti—semitism. but it would be madness to suppose that it but it would be madness to suppose thatitis but it would be madness to suppose that it is not there. and it is here ina that it is not there. and it is here in a particular guys. maybe sometimes you see it in places where actually it is something else. and i am thinking here about the conflation, some would say, the completion of anti—semitism and anti—israeli sentiment, or anti—zionist sentiment. anti—israeli sentiment, or anti—zionist sentimentlj anti—israeli sentiment, or anti-zionist sentiment. i don't completed. some do. there might be some who do. some are accused of completing it when they do not. they are two separate things, but that does not mean that they are bound to be separate things. it is quite true that an anti—zionist need not be an
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anti—semite. but that does not mean that an anti—zionist is never to be an anti—semite. that an anti—zionist is never to be an anti-semite. they are different. one political and ideological. the other is about the head of the people and religion. —— a religion. —— heat of a people and a religion. it is not a fixed entity. if somebody said they wanted to see the end of the state of israel, and the end of the state of israel, and the end of the only country in the world thatis end of the only country in the world that is jewish, end of the only country in the world that isjewish, i question how far that isjewish, i question how far thatis that isjewish, i question how far that is only political. —— hate. because why would they say that? a question those attacks of zionism that do not know what side is actually is. zionism is not an imperial force. it did not exist to -- it imperial force. it did not exist to —— it doesn't exist to oppress people. it was a liberationist movement cooked up in the minds of europeans, many not jews, movement cooked up in the minds of europeans, many notjews, in the end of the 19th century, deliberate jews from the oppression that they were suffering all over europe, and in
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some places suffering themselves. —— to liberate. if we separate zionism from its early ideals, that is having else. i don't want to go too far down the track analysing what zionism is. we have spoken to in anti—zionist and explore this before. but with you, i wanted to focus on what this has meant for you in your relationship with your own domestic british political views. what i am getting at is the degree to which you have chosen to enter this debate about whether the leadership of the labour party, jeremy corbyn and others around him, have failed to reach out what you have failed to reach out what you have described as anti—semitism. —— root. why have you chosen to fight this battle? i would like to say something grand and said that it
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chose me. i was not the first person to see that there were problems with anti—semitism in the labour party. a lot of labour politicians were saying that. a lot ofjewish labour politicians. —— labour. but a lot of mps who happen to bejewish and still full of anxiety to this day. we had to individuals, ken livingstone, well—known in the party, who said things which were recounted by naz shah, but not by ken livingstone, but these things we re ken livingstone, but these things were put three series of investigations, and they were suspended for a time from the party. the labour party has dealt with that. it is not dealt with. it had the worst enquiry you could imagine. it lasted about three weeks. people we re it lasted about three weeks. people were invited to submit their thoughts. i submitted some thoughts. no sign at all that the lady leading the enquiry had read them, or that she had read very, very much submitted by jewish she had read very, very much submitted byjewish thinkers and writers and talkers. the enquiry was
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-it writers and talkers. the enquiry was — it found nearly nothing. it was framed in crude language, saying that something is make people accountable, and so meant we should change the lamb was a little. the rabbi says, he is talking of his gi’oup the rabbi says, he is talking of his group in the jewish the rabbi says, he is talking of his group in thejewish community, we don't accept that anti—semitism is right on the labour party. the exa m ples right on the labour party. the examples that have been repeated in the media, many have been reported in accurately, and only a very few seem to be genuine examples of anti—semitism. ijust seem to be genuine examples of anti—semitism. i just wonder why you have chosen to invest so much in this, as you would say, as a signal of something that is so very wrong. i would wonder why someonejewish would choose to say what he said. there are jews would choose to say what he said. there arejews who think... i do know who he is talking about because
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any number ofjews feel as i know about this and encouraged them to speak out as i do. there is a great deal of anxiety. it isn't that i feel that if i walked intojeremy corbyn in a room he would punch me on the nose and call me a dirtyjew, but i think what he would do is look sneeringly at my concerns, he would not take my point that there is a kind of anti— zionism which does morphing to anti—semitism. he wouldn't believe it. he has believed for a long time, the palestinian cause is a good cause, i don't dismiss all derive the palestinian cause, but it has been simplified and sentimentalised at the expense of many jews and sentimentalised at the expense of manyjews and settling many israelis and i think that should be taken on board and notjust sneered at and taken on board and notjust sneered atandi taken on board and notjust sneered at and i don't have any sense at all thatjeremy corbyn or those around him would do anything but sneer at the things i'm saying. we will interview, i hope, on the serb ——
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subject and others. one of your greatest concerns in recent days is social media platforms. i think you focused on twitter. on our culture and particularly what they are doing to our children. you have said twitter will make children is literate within 20 years. you don't believe that, do you? i am a novelist and a polemicist. there is a place that departs from reality. novelist and a polemicist. there is a place that departs from realitylj a place that departs from reality.” don't think i have departed from reality at all. i have been slightly misreported there. i don't think twitter... i wouldn't wait. i think it is totally foolish and i am not surprised that president trump... donald trump used it as a key vehicle for winning the presidency of the united states.” vehicle for winning the presidency of the united states. i am not going to bag a victory for the sake of victory. america is more stupid now that he is in power now than it was
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before and the idea there are 50 million people who want to know what is it that night, i want to know... but i am not talking about twitter. i was talking about the social media general and i'd leave that absolutely. the whole business of the internet from the mobile phone... iam not the internet from the mobile phone... i am not sneering at other people. the mobile phone has affected my memory, it's affected my capacity for concentration and are not the only... i hardly use it compare to some people. i sit there and look at my phone and i wonder about my phone and i can't read pages of prose the way i used to be able to and not doing all the other stuff. it is perfectly clear. i hate to break it to you, but maybe the younger generation is that at multitasking and using their brains than you are. it is a fair point. if it were true, i would say fine. i'm too old for it, my generation will pass away and how wonderful this revenue generation can do everything. they can't. they are not reading, they can't concentrate,
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they don't know the nature of the discourse they are reading. i often see people commenting on something i have written, do not know what it is, they don't know if it is only, ifi is, they don't know if it is only, if i mean it, if it is ironic. social media... if i may interrupt. iam social media... if i may interrupt. i am enjoying myself. we began with something interesting. you were saying in the early part of your writing life, you were too snobbish and it was only when you abandon that that she became your true self asa that that she became your true self as a writer. here is my thought about social media, whether it be facebook, twitter or whatever. you don't like it because there is still a residue about that elitism in you. if you flip the argument around, you could say that many people who are never going to read novels or the extended journalism that you write actually do receive information in a new way through the internet, through the social media platforms and is actually spreading knowledge, spreading the ability to express a personal opinion in ways that we
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have never imagined before. well, i wa nt have never imagined before. well, i want people, i want the very best that people thought has said to be available to people, to be able to do that you have to concentrate. the best things to have been written are difficult. many scientists writing about these problems now, and there are many of them, notjust elitist writers like me, are concerned about what the whole business of the social media and internet are doing to our memory. we can't remember things, can't connect what we read before with what we are reading now. the same people are getting information... information is not the most important thing. the thing that matters to me as a writer when you are reading something... the importance of literature and in art is its impersonality. in art, we can escape oui’ is its impersonality. in art, we can escape our merely mundane, political cells and we can find yourself, we can be surprising to find yourself, we can be surprised into finding something else. when we read a novel, ideally, we are open. we are reading a different kind of voice,
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hearing the words used differently. if the kids hear words used different social media, they go screaming mad. the director of the national literacy trust to studies these things in detail concludes, "digital technology can play a hugely important role in giving children and young people a route into reading and helping them develop their literacy skills." he says it can and i say it can do the opposite. i don't it can't. i don't say that what he is saying is a lie 01’ say that what he is saying is a lie or impossible. i'm saying it's having other fx as well that we should care about. we should care if people don't know when they are reading coming on their phone where it has appeared, what part of the newspaper it appeared, is it an article? sometimes they read things... the nature of the discord. at the point about internet surely the way people use it is that it is bottom—up. it is killing off the hierarchy and this would apply to the mainstream media, people like me as much as anybody. it is bottom—up
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ina way as much as anybody. it is bottom—up in a way that is challenging, yes, perhaps, potentially dangerous, but also hugely exciting and empowering. you are saying this is a wonderfully democratic movement, it is a wonderfully democratic movements will ——. wonderfully democratic movements will --. it wonderfully democratic movements will ——. it is only a great virtue of think it is a great idea. it seems to me you are losing faith in democracy very fate —— fast. seems to me you are losing faith in democracy very fate -- fast. look what democracy has done. it gave a regs it in our country, it gave us donald trump over there. they are hands you happen to disagree with but they are answers the people came up but they are answers the people came up with through the process of a democratic election. are you saying these days you prefer putin's managed democracy or china... no, no, ithink managed democracy or china... no, no, i think democracy is the best worst system that we have. i can't think of anything better. but that doesn't mean that we should not be made extremely anxious by it, and any philosopher who put his mind to democracy knows all along there is a
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secret rob leth democracy and that is the people. people often get things wrong. according to you, it is not so much the people, it is the result. as long as it makes the right decision. but who are you, no offence, to describe to me what the right *? offence, to describe to me what the right"? i don't know what offence, to describe to me what the right "? i don't know what the offence, to describe to me what the right"? i don't know what the right a nswer right"? i don't know what the right answer is but it is up to me as a citizen that cares about the country i live in and cares about the people in whose name we value democracy that they don't make a disastrous decision, and people make a disastrous decision... they will come a time, and election, where they will kick the bums out... in a referendum, you don't get another election. we are being told by people, the people have spoken and they have spoken forever. people have never spoken forever it sparked —— start with me, it starts with plato. he will be worrying about democracy for a long time. we are almost out of time. we cannot go
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over the ian ‘s and outs of regs it right now. we have to stay focused on you, last question. having live this long life, written these many books and indulge in so much political and cultural commentary, do you believe you have acquired wisdom? do you feel much wiser than you did as a writer setting out in his late 30s to write the great novel? i think i know a few things i didn't know before and i think i know how little i know now and i think i am wise enough to know that it is terrible folly to suppose that you are wise. i am prepared to admit that most of the time i am a fool. it are you more at peace with yourself? yes. that is a wonderful way to end. let's leave it there. thank you for being on hardtalk. thank you for being on hardtalk. thank you for being on hardtalk. thank you very much on —— thank you very much indeed. hi there.
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the weather's going to stay unsettled and showery for the next few days. certainly a bit cooler for the weekend, as well. the area of low pressure with the first named storm of the autumn season is now working across to europe. that's aileen. bringing some very strong winds to north poland, lithuania, latvia, estonia, with gusts reaching 70 kilometres per hour early in the morning. a blustery start to the day for us, with showers around. if you are heading out early, temperatures will be about 9—10 degrees celsius. across the far south of england, especially towards the south coast, sunshine for a time. but there's a strip of cloud coming down across the midlands, east anglia, and across wales, too,
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that will have heavy showers in it, and that's going to be pushing southwards as the morning goes by. so the sunshine in the far south will not last long. to the north, for scotland and for northern ireland, yes, there will be some sunshine to start the day. still, though, with that blustery wind making it feel cool around the coast. stornowayjust 9 degrees, but factoring in the strength of wind, it will feel a little chilly. as we go through the rest of the day, that band of cloud and showers pushes south across england before clearing. then the sunshine comes out across england and wales, that sunshine triggering one or two heavy showers. some of the showers will turn thundery. when the showers come along, they'll really drop the temperatures for a time. it'll be quite a cool day, in any case, across the north—west, temperatures of 13 degrees or so in glasgow. showers in the north of scotland could merge to form a lengthy spell of rain for a time. through the night—time, that band of showers will push south and across northern england and across wales, as well, still tied in with this
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weak weather front that is pushing its way southwards. going through friday, this will push the showers southwards across the midlands, east anglia, and into southern counties of england. along that line, there'll a lot of cloud, and some heavier showers. the sunshine comes out across the north across scotland, northern england and northern ireland. another cold day across northern parts for this time of year. just 12 celsius. factor in the wind, it will feel that bit cooler. that low is sending northerly winds across the uk. this area of low pressure will continue to feed in showers. the majority of the showers will be across central and eastern parts of england this weekend. elsewhere, particularly through the weekend, the weather becomes drier and brighter across the north—west of the uk. the winds continue to ease. we will have some cool weather, perhaps some overnight frost across sheltered parts of scotland this weekend. and that's your weather. hello. this is bbc news. i am david eades. our top stories: florida police launch a criminal investigation into the deaths of eight residents at a nursing home
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hit by hurricane irma. the public inquiry into the fire at grenfell tower in london opens shortly. at least 80 people died in the tragedy injune. the man dubbed the most hated man in america, disgraced drugs company executive, martin shkreli, is jailed in the us. ajudge says he posed a threat to the public. hello. i am sally bundock with the business stories. panic on the high street. it was britain's first bank run in 150 years. but a decade on, have the lessons of northern rock been learnt? plus the oil age may be ending, but what comes next? toyota is betting on hydrogen.
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