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.


Analysis: The arsonists could ignite the entire area

By Uri Dromi, December 17, 2009

Just over a month ago, Jews all over the world commemorated that terrible night of October 8, 1938, when the Nazis burned down synagogues in Germany and Austria. On Kristallnacht, the macabre journey began, from burning of Torah scrolls to the burning of human beings.


Mosque attackers want a new intifada

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 17, 2009

There was something almost too neat about the arson attempt at the mosque in Yasuf on Friday morning. The nearby settlement of Kfar Tapuach, the graffiti in Hebrew, the choice of target. The Palestinians certainly had no trouble pointing out who they thought were the culprits. It was their neighbours, they said, who have been harassing them, they claim, for years.

But a week has gone by and the police and Shin Bet security service have yet to arrest any suspects.


The Board grows fangs at long last

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2009

Scrolling through the archive of press releases from the Board would leave you with the impression that its main activity in recent years has been paying courtesy calls on embassies around London.

But something appears to have changed in the past few weeks.

A series of statements on assorted issues suggests that British Jewry’s main representative body wants to be seen as more assertive and vocal. An organisation for which “concern” appeared to be the strongest word in its vocabulary, has now turned into “Angry, of Bloomsbury Square”.


Analysis: Grant is already in last-chance saloon

By Simon Griver, December 3, 2009

Most Israelis were convinced that the furor following Avram Grant’s appointment as Chelsea manager in 2007 was down to antisemitism and dislike of Israel. Grant himself insisted that objections were for purely professional reasons, and the generally positive reactions to his appointment as manager of Portsmouth last week bear this out.