Analysis

Barak is Israel’s de-facto foreign minister

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 21, 2010

No new strategic agreements or arms deals were signed during Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to Ankara on Sunday; he did not even get to meet the prime minister.

Still, the half-day trip was described as “very positive”. These days, any diplomatic contact between Israel and Turkey that does not end acrimoniously is seen as a definite success.

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Analysis: Trouble and strife is back for Bibi

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 21, 2010

In the remaking of the Bibi brand, a decade-long project that preceded Binyamin Netanyahu’s return to power last year, the Sarah Problem was a major headache.

Long before Israeli voters booted him out of office in 1999, the first lady’s image as a highly-strung, grasping, freebie-loving harridan was well engraved on the national psyche. Newspapers regularly chronicled her tantrums and ego trips, supplemented by rumour and innuendo.

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Analysis: A matter of context

By Rod Liddle, January 21, 2010

Context is everything. I’m a Millwall supporter and I do not know of a single fellow fan who could remotely be described as antisemitic. But looking at the stuff a few bloggers have pulled from one the club’s fan-sites, where I sometimes post, you would probably beg to differ. But then if you looked at the stuff on any football website — and especially those of the London premier league rivals, Spurs — you will find the same, and worse besides.

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Analysis: Say two cheers for the Pontiff

By Mark Solomon, January 21, 2010

The papacy of Benedict XVI has not been short on controversy, so whenever Joseph Ratzinger opens his mouth there is no lack of people ready to jump down his throat.

It is almost disappointing, then, when the Pope says just the right thing, as he did in his speech last Sunday. His well-crafted speech ticked all the important boxes, and even though the papacy is a political office where every utterance is spun with care, his address had the ring of sincerity and spiritual depth.

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Finally, good press for Israelis

By Tom Gross, January 21, 2010

Over the past week, Israel has been receiving its most positive TV coverage since the advent of cable news over two decades ago.

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A sinister scheme to devalue the Shoah is gathering steam

By Efraim Zuroff, January 7, 2010

The question of how Lithuania deals with its Holocaust past has simmered for 18 years, ever since it gained independence. But in the past few weeks it has become crucial, due to Lithuania’s campaign to obtain recognition that Communism is the equivalent of Nazism.

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Analysis: Will Straw toe line?

By Martin Bright, January 7, 2010

As the government swirls in a blizzard of plot and counterplot, most commentators agree that two key members of the Cabinet have risen above the fray — Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

There is, therefore, no excuse for them not to get down to business over the issue of who it is within this country’s judicial system who can issue arrest warrants for visiting foreign politicians accused of war crimes: local magistrates or the Attorney General. But can Mr Straw be persuaded to overcome his resistance to new legislation?

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Analysis: A revolution in Iran? Don’t get too excited

By Miriam Shaviv, December 30, 2009

For many Western pundits, the demonstrations against the Iranian regime on Sunday signalled the beginning of another revolution. This was Iran’s “Berlin Wall moment”, The Times enthused; the start of a “bloody endgame”.

Long-time observers noted that it took more than a year to unseat the Shah after demonstrations began in January 1978, and that the current regime seems determined to retain its grip on power through extreme violence, mass arrests and even rape. While the regime is clearly in deep domestic trouble, it could take months and even years to resolve.

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Analysis: No reason to think a consensus is at hand

By Simon Rocker, December 23, 2009

When, two years ago, an 11-year-old boy was rejected by Europe’s largest Jewish school, no one would have foreseen the consequences: three court hearings costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, the interference of the secular authorities in the affairs of a religious minority, and the forced overhaul of entry polices which had served Jewish schools for decades.

But the roots of the JFS conflict lie outside this country: they are part of a global battle over the definition of who is a Jew which has been gradually heating up in the post-war years and may well become fiercer yet.

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Analysis: The grown-ups are back in charge

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 23, 2009

The stage was set for a traumatic split. An arrogant Defence Minister had jeopardised 50 years of partnership between the yeshivahs and the IDF by telling one of the rabbis what he could and couldn’t say. Now they were going to assert their independence and show Ehud Barak that he would not be allowed to push them around.

Fifty seven rabbis entered the conclave on Sunday in an atmosphere of fiery petitions and speeches. Four hours later, they emerged with a surprisingly pragmatic joint statement, opposing political demonstrations within the army and praising its officers and generals.

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