This week’s Uri Geller Jewish Telegraph column. Call back each week !
DAUBING: Uri with the antisemitic graffiti outside his home
CONTROVERSY is the cornerstone of my career. I built my reputation on the debates and arguments I provoked, and I learned early that it was far better for me if I revelled in the contradictions and lies my enemies spread.
Every time someone claimed that they knew how I bent metal or read minds, my bank account grew.
Every time I was dismissed as a charlatan, a fake fakir, a liar or a conjuror, more people bought my books and tuned in to my TV shows to see if they could catch me out.
It sounds cynical when I spell it out so bluntly, but I was always happy to stir up my detractors.
There would be plenty of witnesses who had been convinced by my demonstrations at point-blank range, and the see-saw shouting match between the two sides fuelled my fame.
After all, I’ve always been an entertainer. That’s how I make my money, how I provide for my family.
I could have shunned the limelight and devoted myself to being the subject of endless scientific research, but there isn’t much money in that. Ask any lab rat.
For 30 years or more I’ve taken a love-me-or-hate-me stance. I’ve got a pretty thick skin, and a close family, with a lot of good friends to back me up.
There are plenty of people who can’t stand the sight or sound of me, but that’s fine – let’s face it, I set myself up for it.
Nothing in my showbiz career could have prepared me, however, for the hatred that assaulted my senses as I walked the dogs in the fields around my home, just a couple of days before I was due to enter the Back To Reality house.
A wooden fence runs along part of my land. It’s hard to reach, and originally we put up the fence to shield us from prying eyes on the river, rather than to keep out trespassers.
The Thames is a more effective barrier to intruders than the fence itself. But someone had evidently taken the trouble to find this fence – and desecrate it.
In huge letters of red spray-paint, one word was spelled out: ‘JEW’.
I stood and gazed at it in rising anger. My first thought was to run to the gardener’s shed, grab a tin of woodstain and blot the word out.
But I quickly changed my mind – the graffiti was evidence. The police might need to see it. And anyhow, the harm had already been done: I’d seen the word and been shaken to the marrow, and that surely was what the vandals wanted.
Instead, I photographed the fence and called a journalist friend at Reuters, who was as shocked as I had been.
”That is terrifying,” he told me. ”Terrifying because it shows that Britain is becoming a racist country. People here have always taken a deep pride in being open to all religions and societies.
”That’s why fascism never took hold -that’s why ordinary people faced up to Oswald Mosley and his thugs in the streets of London before the war.”
He interviewed me swiftly, and within hours the story was all over the world. If antisemitic crime is truly beginning to take hold in the UK, I don’t want it to go unreported.
My main concern at this point was to tell my wife Hanna about the attack on our property, and to arrange for security procedures to be overhauled.
Last year, following a series of silent phone calls in the dead of night, and sightings of lurkers beyond our grounds, I invested in a surveillance system which records video footage of every inch of our land.
The pictures are military grade, the cameras ubiquitous. But they don’t yet take pictures of what is going on beyond the fences and walls – and that is a fact I am sure my vandal-stalker knew.
With the help of the police, who were prompt, courteous and well-informed as they invariably are, we made some adjustments to the security set-up.
Hanna pronounced herself fully confident that she would be safe while I was away.
”The people who do such a pathetic thing must be cowards anyhow,” she insisted. One thing is for sure: My wife is no coward. I am lucky to be married to such a defiant and courageous woman.
If she had not been 100 per cent happy, I could not have left my home to live in a TV studio for three weeks.
It’s some consolation to know that the CCTV set-up around my home is a match for the Back To Reality spy camera network. I will never understand what drives race hatred.
If the graffiti had read ‘Fake’ or ‘Fraud’, I would have laughed. I’m a performer who needs to provoke extreme reactions. But my religion and my Jewish identity have nothing to do with my act. I have never invited anyone to admire or despise me because I’m a ‘Jewish’ psychic or an ‘Israeli’ spoonbender.
I’ve had plenty of bad reviews down the years, and I’ve faced down hundreds of hecklers. It’s meat and drink to me. But this other kind of hatred simply turns my stomach.
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“The man is a natural magician. He does everything with great care, meticulous misdirection and flawless instinct. The nails are real, the keys are really borrowed, the envelopes are actually sealed, there are no stooges, there are no secret radio devices and there are no props from the magic catalogues.”
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Sir Elton John
“Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind”
“I Have watched Uri Geller… I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again.”
“Better than watching Geller bending silver spoons, better than witnessing new born nebulae’s in bloom”