Columnists

Abuse of freedom is not freedom

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 22, 2010

Last week, the Knesset gave preliminary approval to a bill aimed at curbing the activities of citizens of the Jewish state who advocate economic or academic boycotts against it. The bill has been jointly sponsored by Knesset members Zeev Elkin (Likud) and Dalia Itzik (Kadima). It therefore enjoys support across much of Israel's political spectrum - a rare occurrence - and its preliminary reading was approved virtually unanimously - an even rarer occurrence.

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Peace is for those who want it

By Daniel Finkelstein, July 15, 2010

Three days before he left office, President Bill Clinton received a message of congratulations from Yasir Arafat. "You are a great man," Arafat told him. But Clinton was having none of it. "I am not a great man," he replied. "I am a failure. And you made me one".

President Clinton has always been very clear where he believes the blame lies for the failure of the Camp David peace talks that took place 10 years ago this month. Arafat, and the Palestinian leadership, Clinton believes, missed a golden chance when they rejected, out of hand, the deal they were offered by Ehud Barak.

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Methodist breach not enough

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 15, 2010

I have never believed in withholding praise where praise is due. So I applaud the decision of the Board of Deputies to break off all dialogue with the leadership of the Methodist church.

But I have two reservations. The first is that this breach is not as comprehensive as it should be. The second is that other Christian denominations have not been included in the sanction.

The breach with the Methodists is to be welcomed not simply because they have enthusiastically embraced a report on the Middle East that is a catalogue of lies and half-truths.

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No more Mr (or Ms) Nice Guys

By Julie Burchill, July 8, 2010

It was Harold Wilson who famously said that British socialism owed more to Methodism than Marx. And on learning that the Methodists have joined the lefty herd in attacking Israel, I really did have to wonder if it was the tail that was wagging the dog or the dog that was wagging the tail this time round.

The dog being, in this case, the rabid, snarling cur of antisemitism, its straining leash held lightly in the heavy hand of its walker, anti-Zionism.

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Law snubbed by MP and a jury

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 8, 2010

Last week's acquittal of seven so-called "activists" who had been charged with having caused some £200,000 worth of criminal damage at a Brighton arms factory, must concern to all of us who wish to uphold the rule of law in this country.

What does it mean, to uphold "the rule of law"? Well, it involves us electing a parliament to make laws on our behalf, laws that we are all bound by - whether or not we like them.

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If Israel did listen to friends..?

By Miriam Shaviv, July 1, 2010

How seriously should we take the current groundswell of diaspora Jews declaring their friendship for Israel, and then begging it to change course before disaster strikes?

It is certainly a popular message. J Street, the doveish lobby in America, led the pack in 2008; then there was J Call, its European imitator. Last month we had writer Peter Beinart fretting that young American Jews were becoming alienated from the Jewish state because of its "illiberal" policies.

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Watchdog has no bite or sight

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 1, 2010

On June 11, the JC Diary included an item about a submission I had made to the Press Complaints Commission. As some of you have been kind enough to contact me about this, I'm going to explain why I complained to the PCC, and what its rejection of my complaint means for what the media here in the UK choose to report about Israel.

In its issue of March 28, the Sunday Times carried an opinion piece by Andrew Sullivan, an Oxford educated Catholic who is said to live in the USA and to be a "political conservative".

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Israel, listen to your friends

By Jonathan Freedland, June 24, 2010

If there's one thing we know about Israel, it is that it doesn't listen to its enemies. Those implacably hostile to the Jewish state can rant and rave, but Israel simply closes its ears. If anything, such criticism only makes the country dig in its heels, confirming its gloomiest, most isolationist instincts: "see, everyone really does hate us ­- all the more reason for us to retreat from the world, becoming the people that dwells alone".

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EU shechitah plan is troubling

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 24, 2010

Last week, the European Parliament approved a set of draft proposals designed to provide consumers within the EU with much more accurate information about the food products they buy. Among these is a regulation - still in draft - which, if endorsed by the European Commission later this year, will mean that shechitah-slaughtered meat that finds its way on to the general market will need to be labelled as "meat from slaughter without stunning".

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A Rose is a Rose is a Rose is etc

By David Aaronovitch, June 17, 2010

On the second leg of a train trip to Kiev, I began to think on the proposition that where you say something matters as much, if not more than, what you say.

The provocateuse was Professor Jacqueline Rose, whose very, very long article in the London Review of Books I was reading. Her piece - "J'accuse. Dreyfus in our times" - purports to examine what might be learned from the late 19th-century case of the Jewish officer in the French army, falsely convicted of treason and transported, and the subsequent scandal.

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