Columnists

Israel's impaired global vision

By Jonathan Freedland, April 1, 2010

The word of the hour is delegitimisation. Doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, but it has nevertheless become the vogue term of art for those defending Israel.

Critics no longer merely "disagree with" - or even "attack" - Israel; they now seek to undermine its very legitimacy as a state.

So hot has this topic become, the Jewish Leadership Council and Bicom are hosting a joint seminar on it this month. Their focus will be a report by Israel's Re'ut Institute that has already prompted a major think-in hosted by Israel's Foreign Ministry.

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Hacking off Hackney voters

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 1, 2010

Three weeks ago on this page, I addressed a serious communal problem, namely the tendency of our Charedi brethren to put their own interests above everything else. Citing several recent new stories, I referred to the seeming inability or unwillingness of Charedim "to consider their needs in the context of the needs of the wider society of which they are part."

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Bibi is wrong, Obama is right

By David Aaronovitch, March 25, 2010

As a general proposition, the following is true: democrats around the world prosper when an American president succeeds. The strengthening of Barack Obama as a consequence of his victory on health care reform, for example, will help him almost as much in Afghanistan as in Arkansas.

So we should badly want him to win. How strange then, in the wake of the administration's recent falling-out with the Israeli government, to find usually level-headed Jews taking the side of the right-wing coalition in Jerusalem, rather than that of the leader of the free world.

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Bibi is right, Obama is wrong

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 25, 2010

Three weeks ago, the American vice-President Joe Biden visited Israel in order to kick-start what were termed "proximity talks." What this odd phrase really means is that, rather than pressure PA President Mahmoud Abbas to talk face-to-face with Bibi Netanyahu, Mr Biden hopes to act as the go-between. He will talk to one side, and then to the other. And so on and so forth. Whether this is a sensible way of going about peacemaking is a pertinent question, but it is not one that concerns me at the moment.

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Can we trust Gordon Brown?

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 18, 2010

Politics - I keep telling my students - is a nasty business, in which principle counts for little and pragmatism - cynical and often heartless - counts for a great deal.

The late Michael Foot, for instance, was a man of principle, and therefore a very unsuccessful politician. Tony Blair, by contrast, was a survivor, a Thatcherite leader of an ostensibly socialist party. Behind him, waiting in the wings, was of course Gordon Brown, a professional student of politics as well as a consummate practitioner.

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Why truth beats diplomacy

By Melanie Phillips, March 18, 2010

The Obama administration's fury at Israel over the "insult to the US" of building more homes in east Jerusalem has provoked what is described as the worst crisis in US-Israel relations for more than three decades.

Leave aside, for the moment, the notable absence of "insult to the US" caused by the Palestinian Authority a day or so later, when it named a square after a terrorist "martyr" who not only slaughtered dozens of Israelis, but also in 1978 murdered the American niece of a US Democratic senator.

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Free speech is still important

By Daniel Finkelstein, March 11, 2010

I am sorry, but I can't". With these six words, Robert MacKenzie, Professor of Political Sociology at the London School of Economics, changed my life.

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Religion, or mere self-interest?

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 11, 2010

How far out does charedi outreach reach? Just how prepared are charedim to reach out to their Jewish brethren, and on what terms?

Here is a selection of the many news stories that have landed on my desk over the past couple of weeks:

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Foolish Jewish masochism

By Julie Burchill, March 4, 2010

When she was pregnant, Gwyneth Paltrow apparently told Jay Leno: "The Jewish part of me is superstitious about talking about it. So when people ask, 'are you going to find out about the sex of the baby?' or 'do you have weird food cravings?' I don't want to answer those questions." Oh, those superstitious and fearful Jews!

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Hooray for Catholic sex change

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 4, 2010

There is something profoundly depressing about the political jig that Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, was obligedto dance so publicly last week.

A portmanteau bill sponsored by his department is currently making its way through parliament. Among its provisions is the requirement that all taxpayer-funded schools teach pupils something about sex and contraception.

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