Columnists

Free speech: the burning issue

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 21, 2010

Prior to the recent anniversary of the Islamist attacks on the World Trade Centre and other American targets, an obscure American pastor threatened to publicly burn copies of the Koran on the lawn of his church in Gainesville, Florida.

The publicity given to this (subsequently withdrawn) threat sparked worldwide condemnation. Other Christian communities in the neighbourhood were joined by leaders of Muslim and Jewish congregations in berating pastor Terry Jones and his self-declared "International Burn a Koran Day."

More..

A very Jewish book's appeal

By Jonathan Freedland, September 16, 2010

At least one Jew among us has begun the new year sweetly. Twenty-four hours before Rosh Hashanah, Howard Jacobson was named on the shortlist of the Man Booker Prize. "About bloody time" was my reaction. Incredibly, Jacobson - long placed by the critics in the first rank of British writers - had never made the shortlist before. (Almost as surprisingly, Jacobson thereby became the first Jewish man to have achieved the feat: Jewish women, including past winners Anita Brookner and Bernice Rubens, have tended to do better.)

More..

Union Jacks and Jills and Jews

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 16, 2010

By the time you read this, the 142nd meeting of the Trades Union Congress will have taken place in Manchester. These are troubled times for the trade-union movement. There are jobs to protect (not least in the public sector) and job-related benefits to be defended. The Labour Party - the creature (indeed the creation) of the trade unions - has recently suffered an electoral defeat, and is in consequent disarray. The brothers and sisters of the Labour movement are themselves divided over who to support as the party's new leader.

More..

Idling and ignorant in Italy

By David Aaronovitch, September 7, 2010

I write in a state of Jewlessness. In this small, southern seaside resort at the fag-end of the Italian national holiday season, there have been no Jews visible for over a week.

We are not talking here just about no bearded, hatted, kippah-ed, sidelocked, bewigged and Volvoed Jews. That can sometimes happen in parts of London.

More..

Can these rabbis be forgiven?

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 7, 2010

Five years ago, in the pages of this newspaper, a communal scandal was brought to your attention. Two Jewish children, born to Jewish parents, were denied entry into a leading Jewish school.

The reason for this denial of entry had nothing whatever to do with money, scholastic ability or shortage of school places.

More..

The left wins… rhetorically

By Melanie Phillips, September 2, 2010

Someone I met recently posed what I thought was an interesting question.

Like me, he had read and admired the moving interview in last Sunday's Observer with the Israeli novelist David Grossman, whose son Uri was killed when his IDF tank was hit by a rocket in the final hours of the aborted war with Hizbollah in 2006.

More..

Tribute to Tribune's lost world

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 2, 2010

I was distressed - devastated would be a more accurate description - to read that the future of the Jewish Tribune is in doubt. It is a publication for which I have a genuine, if perverse, affection. To be frank, I'm addicted to it. When it arrives I devour its contents from last page to first.

What is it about this weekly Anglo-Yiddish scandal sheet that so mesmerises me?

To begin with, it's the paper's steadfast refusal to separate fact from comment.

More..

To learn Hebrew, just have fun

By Miriam Shaviv, August 26, 2010

Parallel universes exist mostly in the realm of science fiction. But this summer, I was privileged to enter my own alternative reality. For four weeks, I got to see a life I could have lived but don't, a child I could have had, but don't. I got as close as I will probably ever get to bringing up Israeli children.

More..

A child rabbi? I don't think so

By Geoffrey Alderman, August 26, 2010

I once agreed to be a member of a panel set up by a synagogue to choose a new rabbi. To begin with all went well. Advertisements were placed in suitable newspapers. My fellow panel members and I drew up a shortlist of those applicants we intended to interview. There was one outstanding CV, that of a mature man, just turned 45, well qualified in terms of both his religious and secular education, and with excellent references.

We decided to interview him and another candidate, a much younger gentleman, scarcely 24, but also well qualified on paper, and also with excellent references.

More..

Johnny is not the rotten one

By Julie Burchill, August 19, 2010

I love Israel and I love Rihanna, so imagine my glee earlier this year on seeing a photo of her lying by the exact Tel Aviv swimming pool where I had been lounging just a few days before! I'm less fond of Lady Gaga so I wasn't quite as stoked to see her mooching around the Western Wall. And I can't stand Madonna so I wasn't overjoyed to see her strutting around the Promised Land.

But, hey, every little helps in the war against the half-wits seeking to demonise Israel through the medium of cultural boycott.

More..