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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


Analysis: This stuff really matters to the Labour government

By Martin Bright, December 17, 2009

If Tzipi Livni is a war criminal then she should stand trial at the International Criminal Court. Israel is not beyond judgment for its actions. If crimes against humanity were committed in Gaza by Israeli troops, then the war cabinet in which Ms Livni served as Foreign Minister should be held to account. The British government understands that and — although this may come as a surprise to some people — so does the Israeli government.

Ms Livni suggested as much herself in a speech on Tuesday following the news that she cancelled a trip to Britain for fear of arrest.


Analysis: A hypocritical stance

By Lisa Goldman, December 17, 2009

Last Passover, at a restaurant in Rishon Lezion in central Israel, the holiday special was fried calamari dipped in matzo meal instead of flour.

This combination — treif food with a nod to the Jewish festival — was not considered at all strange. In most parts of Israel, outside of Jerusalem and a few other Orthodox enclaves, the majority of Jews define themselves as secular or traditional.


Analysis: A losing battle for the rabbis

By Shmuel Rosner, December 17, 2009

It is a confrontation that was long overdue. Not the military against the religious hesder yeshivahs, nor the Minister of Defence against the rabbis. It is the battle between the clear-eyed and the confused, those who remember that military affairs should be decided by the political leadership and those who tend to pretend that all decisions can be the prerogative of rabbis; between those understanding that no military can function without a clear chain of command, and those pretending to have two chains of command.