Getting over my fear of flying… to Israel

June 18, 2009

I had always been fearful of visiting Israel. I had the opportunity to go three years ago on an interfaith trip and turned it down. I was scared of being caught in a terrorist attack, I was unnerved by what I imagined to be a constant and menacing military presence. And more than that, I was ignorant of what Israel had to offer.

I was still anxious when I landed at Ben Gurion airport recently with my group of teachers, arts educators and lecturers, excitedly discussing the nine-day programme ahead of us.


Bibi leaves lots of wiggle room

By David Harris, June 18, 2009

In the run up to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s remarks at Bar-Ilan University on Sunday, media speculation was intense but the overriding feeling was that precious little was to come.

Yet in the event, Mr Netanyahu did something few thought he would, and certainly not just two-and-a-half months into his premiership — he spoke of a “Palestinian state”.


Stocks and scares for salmon consumers

By William Sitwell, June 18, 2009

This month has seen the release of a film that hopes to do for fish what An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change.

End of the Line is produced by environmental journalist Charles Clover, whose book of the same name made considerable ripples. The movie, it is hoped, will produce a somewhat larger splash.

It’s beautifully shot, there’s great music and it’s all cut with powerful, dramatic footage of Charles and his cohorts travelling the world and challenging everyone from fishing companies to restaurants on the subject of sustainability.


Behind the eggs and the Dangers of PR

June 11, 2009

Much as many of us might have enjoyed the spectacle of Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party and one of its first two Euro-MPs, with egg on his face, this week’s mini-riot outside Parliament is not an example to be followed. It is bad enough that the racist party has gained respectability with its first parliamentary seats, not to mention a half-million pound boost to its coffers. The last thing anyone needs now is for Griffin and his cohorts to try to claim sympathy as the object of violent tactics.


The rabbis fear their followers

By Shmuel Rosner, June 11, 2009

Religious zealotry is not new to the strictly Orthodox, but the trick is always to know where to stop. Adding more rules, more boundaries, is easy. In days gone by, the great leaders of Orthodox Judaism were those able to ease restrictions, to limit new halachic stringencies — without losing their authority with the masses and with other rabbis.


Shalit clearly not Bibi’s priority

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 11, 2009

Two months into the Netanyahu government’s term and almost three years to the day since Gilad Shalit was captured from his tank on the border of the Gaza Strip, Israel still has no clear policy on how to secure his freedom from Hamas.


The old demons are back

By Denis MacShane, June 11, 2009

The European Parliament has never been friendly to Jewish causes and concerns. In its tolerance of Islamist extremist hate against Israel, the Strasbourg assembly has often been a “useful idiot” for Middle East politicians, who keep their antisemitism for consumption at home and use the language of resistance and liberation when meeting MEPs.

Now, however, the election of two British MEPs from the antisemitic BNP will help consolidate an antisemitic group in the European Parliament.


Hizbollah poll defeat is cold comfort for Israel

By Miriam Shaviv, June 11, 2009

The victory of the pro-American “March 14” coalition in this week’s Lebanese elections has been greeted with relief across the world, but for Israel, is merely the lesser of two evils.

To be sure, a Hizbollah victory would have been disastrous, lending legitimacy to an organisation dedicated to Israel’s destruction, putting it in control of Lebanon’s army and other organs of state — and bringing Syrian and Iranian influence ever closer to Israel’s borders.


This racist movement is not a joke

By Natasha Lehrer, June 4, 2009

Earlier in his career as a comedian, Dieudonné appeared in a double act with his childhood friend, the Jewish comedian Elie Semoun. Their act lampooned intolerance and bigotry of all kinds, and propelled them to fame. Their shows were sell-outs and Dieudonné made enough money to buy a theatre in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. No one was excluded from their remorseless satire — scientologists, intellectuals, journalists and neo-Nazis were all fodder for their irreverent and hugely popular shows.


The victims get a chance of justice

By Shimon Samuels & Sergio Widder, June 4, 2009

The evidence has long implicated Iranian officials in the July 1994 bombing of the Amia Jewish Centre in Buenos Aires, which left 85 dead and hundreds wounded. In 2006, State Prosecutor Alberto Nisman indicted former Iranian President Rafsanjani, ex-Foreign Minister Velayati and seven other suspects.

The president of Argentina at the time, Nestor Kirchner, and his wife, current President Christina Kirchner, both denounced Iran for its role in the attack in separate addresses to the UN General Assembly, resisting pressure from Tehran’s Latin-American ally, Venezuela.