Your blogs

  • Mazel Tov: Royal succession change at last

    Jennifer Lipman
    Oct 28, 2011

    It looks as though, finally, the UK's archaic laws on royal succession are to be scrapped. The 16 Commonwealth heads have agreed to change the law so that male and female heirs to the throne are treated equally.

    David Cameron says he will put it to parliament at the next session, when, one hopes, even the crustiest and most conservative members will accept it.

    The constitutional reform would also remove the ban on the spouse of a Catholic from taking the throne (a ban that was only in place for Catholics). Under the current system, had Kate Middleton been Catholic, Prince William would effectively have had to forfeit his right to the throne in order to marry her.

  • Thoughts on Gilad Shalit's release

    Jennifer Lipman
    Oct 18, 2011

    When Gilad Shalit was captured, most of us didn't have Facebook. There was no Twitter, no iPhone and certainly no iPad.

    Barack Obama was still a relatively unknown freshman senator from Illinois and Tony Blair was running this country. The economy hadn't collapsed just yet, Osama bin Laden was nowhere to be found. Newspaper websites were free to browse. The West Wing was still on air in Britain.

    While Gilad was in captivity - with almost no word from Hamas about his welfare - his peers were moving on with their lives. They were finishing their army service, going off to see the world. They were starting their studies, falling in love, perhaps even having children.

  • David Cameron, Durban and dancing at the UN

    Jennifer Lipman
    Sep 14, 2011

    Political life often seems to be something of a dance, a complicated balancing act in order to offend no-one, appease everyone and commit yourself to nothing.

    So kudos to David Cameron for (finally) deciding that Britain won't take part in the tenth birthday party of the Durban conference, an event supposedly about challenging racism that turned into the political equivalent of putting a kid in the middle of the playground and standing around pointing and mocking.

    Cameron said he doesn't want to commemorate a conference (actually, two, the 2009 review affair was also something of a hate-fest) associated with "open displays of unpleasant and deplorable antisemitism".

  • Where were you when........?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Sep 13, 2011

    As almost a lifetime critic of Israel's lack of public relations skills, I have watched even more aghast than usual as Turkey's Erdogan has made the running against Israel with his portrayal of her attack on the Turkish “humanitarian relief flotilla” to Gaza as something not short of an international crime. I will concede absolutely that, confronted with opposition. the Israeli commandos went into overdrive and did not stop to decide whether they should suffer casualties before responding to their attackers. But then this was no innocent `”humanitarian” sortie by well-intentioned Turks – and I do not rely on Israeli propaganda sources for my information. What's wrong with the Washington Post and why has Israel not drawn on what it had to say in an editorial in June last year? You don't know what I am talking about? Well, here's the editorial and if you did not know about the information it contains, phone your local Israel Embassy and ask why (all the words that follow are from the Washington Post editorial):

    Western governments have been right to be concerned about Israel’s poor judgment and botched execution in the raid against the Free Gaza flotilla. But they ought to be at least as worried about the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which since Monday has shown a sympathy toward Islamic militants and a penchant for grotesque demagoguery toward Israel that ought to be unacceptable for a member of NATO.



    On the opposite page today, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States makes the argument that Israel had no cause to clash with the “European lawmakers, journalists, business leaders and an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor” who were aboard the flotilla. But there was no fighting with those people, or with five of the six boats in the fleet. All of the violence occurred aboard the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, and all of those who were killed were members or volunteers for the Islamic “charity” that owned the ship, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).



  • Not in my lifetime

    Geoffrey Paul
    Sep 8, 2011

    I have always believed – sometimes, admittedly, in desperation – that what opponents, enemies even, address to each other in public does not truly reflect the life-and-death stuff of which they talk in private. Lives really depend upon this hidden intercourse. I am not sure of this any more, after ten hours this week spent in the company in London of old-hand Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. It became frighteningly clear after only a short while that they were not talking to each other. They were talking past each other. The Israelis talk, as they must, about security in depth. The Palestinians talk, as they must, about the degree of self-determination they require. A senior Arab spokesman insisted that , in Mahmoud Abbas, Israel now had an opportunity of negotiating with the most pragmatic Palestinian leader they were ever likely to encounter. The Israelis insisted that Abbas spoke for just a fragment of Palestine and that there was that other element, Hamas, which was sworn never to accept a Jewish State.The Palestinians spoke about a need for Israel to accept , at least in principle, the right of Palestinians to return to their former homes. The Israelis spoke about a need for the Palestinians to accept, absolutely, that Israel be recognised as the national state and home of the Jewish people. Sir Malcolm Rifkind told a joke (and he does not have great recognition as a joker): The Israelis and the Arabs sent a delegation to God. “God,” they said. “will there ever be peace between us.” And God replied: “Yes, my children, there will be peace between you – but not in My lifetime!.” It was hard to disagree.

  • From Oxford to Ramallah

    Geoffrey Paul
    Sep 3, 2011

    An unexpected spanner has been thrown into the intention of Ramallah to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN later this month. A leading Oxford academic and legal expert has warned that, by pushing ahead with their bid for recognition of a Palestinian state, the PLO leadership may well hazard any right of Palestinians to return to what is now Israel and disenfranchise every Palestinian living outside the area currently under the control of the Palestine Authority.

    Professor S Goodwin-Gill, a barrister and senior research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, in an opinion requested by a member of the Palestine National Council, a sort of Palestinian inner cabinet, has cautioned that:“Until such a time as a final settlement is agreed, the putative State of Palestine will have no territory over which it exercises effective sovereignty, its borders will be indeterminate or disputed, its population, actual and potential, undetermined and many of them continuing to live under occupation or in States of refuge.

    “While it may be an observer State in the United Nations, it will fall short of meeting the internationally agreed criteria of statehood, with serious implications for Palestinians at large, particularly as concerns the popular representation of those not currently present in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

  • Michele Bachmann: The (not) Jewish presidential hopeful

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 31, 2011

    As with every US Presidential election, the candidates are after the Jewish vote. (The fact that they'd also quite like to capture the Christian vote, the Muslim vote, the Humanist vote and the votes of the people who believe aliens walk among us, is not the point).

    Because we're not even in primary season yet, it's the many, many Republican hopefuls who are clearing their calendars to visit synagogues and community centres, hug Jewish babies and eat as much honey cake as they can stomach.

    Chief among them is Michele Bachmann. But apparently, she's already ahead in the race.

  • Fascinating Tosh

    Geoffrey Paul
    Aug 31, 2011

    I am ever fascinated by the world of the chassidim, especially when introduced to a dynasty of which I had no previous knowledge and which, in general, has managed to remain aloof from the outside world and struggles to keep it that way. So meet the Tosh (no joke, honest) and their venerable though ailing Rebbe, Meshullam Feish Segal-Lowy, great-grandson of the first Tosher Rebbe who sprang from a long rabbinic line and lived in the Hungarian town of Nyirtas, the last syllable of which provided the dynasty's title, Tas, sometimes Tash and most often Tosh.

    Now in his 90th year, the current rebbe lives in a town built around him and populated by several thousand of his followers. Named, not surprisingly, Kiryas Tosh, it was established in 1963 not in some Brooklyn suburb nor even in Israel, but, wait for it, in French-speaking Quebec, Canada, about a 30-minute drive from Montreal where its members previously lived. It is no surprise then that the main street of Kiryas Tosh is Avenue Beth Halevy.

    Rabbi Lowy took his followers to Tosh from Montreal so that he could preserve their life style and keep distractions at bay. He seems to have succeeded. Even in Catholic Canada, Tosh has one of the highest birthrates in the country. But is has not been without its heartbreaks. A fire last month destroyed a block of 18 apartments but caused no casualties. The local shomrim said all 200 flat-dwellers were rescued, 150 of them children.

  • Practise what you tweet? Not these activists

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 25, 2011

    I'm all for legitimate protest, so while I might view a group called UK Friends of Palestine & (dissident) Israel with suspicion, I wouldn't want to say they shouldn't have a platform.

    According to the mission statement on their twitter page, they want: "To raise awareness for non-violent actions to open Gaza and end the occupation."

    But, they add: "We work for equality, peace and one day lots more love again between Arabs and Jews."