It's not for us to play God

By Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, July 16, 2009

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, minister of one of the largest congregations, Finchley, told the US Council that rabbis were “deeply concerned” about the possible consequences of the JFS court ruling on Jewish schools.

He had himself once been a chairman of governors of a Jewish school when he had “inherited a situation.The previous authorities had accepted children who were not halachically Jewish.


Analysis: Obama turns on the charm

By Nathan Guttman, July 16, 2009

“It was a wonderful exchange of views,” said Andrea Weinstein, chairwoman of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “I felt at ease,” added Marla Gilson, Washington representative of Hadassah. “He was masterful,” concluded Ira Foreman, CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

The famous Obama charm definitely worked on leaders of the Jewish community in their first face-to-face meeting with the president on Monday afternoon.


Analysis: A conspiracy of silence

By Jean-Yves Camus, July 16, 2009

On Monday, the French Minister of Justice appealed the sentences given to 14 members of the “Gang of Barbarians”, who in 2006 abducted, tortured and murdered a young Jew, Ilan Halimi.

The jury decided that only two of the 25 convicted had acted out of antisemitic feeling. As a result, most received sentences that were considered too light by the French Jewish institutions and many Jewish citizens.

They are right.

The death of 24-year-old Ilan Halimi, a mobile phone salesman in Paris, is the worst case of anti-Jewish violence in France since 1945.


Analysis: We need focus on why he was killed

By Natasha Lehrer, July 16, 2009

There was never any doubt that the judge would condemn Youssouf Fofana to the longest possible prison sentence. The kidnap and murder of Ilan Halimi, which he masterminded, horrified France.

In the event, he was condemned to life imprisonment, with a minimum of 22 years to be served.

The trial had not been without its drama (it took place in camera, because many of the defendants were under age at the time of the crime, but has been described on a daily blog by the Nouvel Observateur journalist Elsa Vigoureux).


Jewish political commentators’ paranoia

By Marc Saperstein, July 16, 2009

"Have Americans unknowingly elected a pro-Islamist President?” This is how Richard Baehr concluded a recent article in the American Thinker.
The term “Islamist” designates a militant anti-democratic ideology, characteristic of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, using Islamic texts to justify holy war and terrorism. As President Obama is committing 17,000 additional American troops to combating Islamist forces in Afghanistan, Baehr’s rhetorical question appears patently absurd.


Biden did not give Israel a ‘green light’ to bomb Iran

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, July 9, 2009

What should be made of US Vice President Joe Biden’s recent comments on a possible Israeli military strike against Iran?

Mr Biden was interviewed on This Week, ABC’s Sunday morning show. He said that “Israel can determine for itself — it’s a sovereign nation — what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.”

Most commentators seem to think Biden was offering Israel a green light to attack.

He continued to say that Israel is “entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that.”


Who is the real man?

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s trip to London this week to meet American negotiator George Mitchell was unremarkable for any breakthrough on the thorny issue of settlement building. It was, however, a useful illustration of the real mindset of both sides in this uneasy relationship.

On the Israeli side, the fact that Mr Barak is the main representative in the country’s most vital strategic alliance is a sign of the dysfunctionality of Binyamin Netanyahu’s government — only 100 days after it was sworn in.


Let’s hope Israelis will start visiting

By Miriam Shaviv, July 2, 2009

A rethink of Beth Hatefutsot has been long overdue.

Although it was considered highly innovative when it opened in 1978 — because of the level of interactivity in its exhibits and its didactic approach — it had long become outmoded and outdated, and to most Israelis, irrelevant.

In 2003, after running into severe financial trouble, and temporarily closing, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was forced to declare it a “national asset”.


Jerusalem’s Shabbat wars fuelled by rabbis’ fear

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 2, 2009

This month’s “Shabbat wars” in central Jerusalem inspired in many a weary feeling of déjà vu.

Since the 1920s, when the first violent demonstrations took place against football matches organised by the British authorities, every commercial, cultural and sporting activity on Shabbat has proved a flashpoint.

For the past three weeks, the issue has been the opening of a municipal car park near Meah Shearim on Shabbat, sparking mass protests by the Charedi community.


Analysis: Bad timing for an economic upgrade

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 25, 2009

The decision last week by Morgan Stanley Capital Index (MSCI) to reclassify Israel’s economy from “emerging” to “developed” was greeted by Israeli economists with mixed feelings.

Everyone agreed that it was evidence of the improved regulation of local money markets and the robustness shown by the Israeli economy in the face of the global downturn. The Bank of Israel and other establishment sources saw it as an affirmation of their policies and a “coming of age” of the Israeli market.

Private-sector analysts were less certain.