By Marcus Dysch
September 22, 2010
You do sometimes have to wonder what country people such as Na’ama Heller and Brian Gordon think they are living in – Israel? Saudi Arabia? Taliban-ruled Afghanistan?
The revelation – if you’ll pardon the pun – that Marks & Spencer had been urged to remove a lingerie advert from an advertising board next to a Sukkah shop in north west London shocked me.
Personally I am not offended by the image of the young lady in her underwear, but even if I was, I would not suppose it was down to me to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as shop manager Ms Heller did.
She complained that the image “was not acceptable by Jewish standards…it was totally inappropriate to have it placed there”.
Well, tough luck.
Ms Heller has chosen to live not in Mea Shearim or Riyadh, but in Britain and indeed in Edgware, one of the most ethnically diverse areas of London.
If she and her customers found the image offensive then they should have averted their eyes when entering and leaving the “Sukkah Mart”.
Backed up by Cllr Gordon – who regularly pops up to blow his own trumpet when supporting local Jewish causes – Ms Heller lodged her complaint with the ASA, and was swiftly, and correctly, given short shrift.
(Admittedly it is to M&S’ credit that they ultimately had the goodwill to change the poster to one of Twiggy in a coat. Had I been the advertising manager urged to cough up to change the image I’m fairly sure my response would have been somewhat less friendly.)
Every so often the media is swamped with (ridiculous) stories about opposition to, and fear over, the supposed threat of Sharia law coming to Britain.
Yet it seems some within the Jewish community are already exercising their own version.
They would do well to remember that they live in a modern, democratic country, where the media, advertising industry and others are free from government or religious control. At the same time, people are free to practice their religious beliefs in relative peace.
If they don’t like it they should make alternative living arrangements.