New ways of wishing 'gd Shbs'

By Miriam Shaviv, January 28, 2011

It is 11 years since a number of Israeli rabbis came out against their followers using the internet, and at least half-a-decade since they attempted to ban internet-enabled mobile phones.


Rules seem beyond our Ken

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 27, 2011

In principle, there is no reason why an active politician - one still involved in the cut-and-thrust of public life - should not also have a regular slot as a contributor to or even as a presenter of a television programme.


McCarthyism - Israeli style

By Jonathan Freedland, January 24, 2011

'An evil wave is sweeping over Israel" and the latest act of the Knesset "sends a warning signal: here is darkness."

Before you dash off a letter to denounce the authors of those words as hateful anti-Zionists bent on delegitimising the state of Israel, pause a moment. Because the first quotation comes from the Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and the second from Likud MK Benny Begin. What could have moved such fervent Israeli patriots to speak this way?


Going through the motions

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 24, 2011

Those of us who attended the boycott debate held at the London School of Economics last week were privileged to learn some valuable lessons about the boycott issue itself, the motives of those - including some Jews - who identify themselves as boycott sponsors, and the manner in which their arguments may be comprehensively confounded.

We were also given a demonstration of how, on an emotive issue, a civilised academic dialogue can nonetheless be conducted.


How they lost the (Zionist) plot

By David Aaronovitch, January 14, 2011

'See that bird, swooping low over the Arabian desert, my son? Spot that shark swimming the shallows of the Red Sea, beloved daughter? What do they have in common? No, no, no. Not that they're both vertebrates -everyone knows that. No - they're both Mossad agents, my children, that's what."


Abbas's ineffectual UDI threat

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 14, 2011

The current negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinian Authority are, if not actually dead, then certainly in a critical state exhibiting every sign of comprehensive systemic failure.

I say this in spite of the commendable optimism voiced earlier this month by Quartet representative Tony Blair, who told Sky News that direct talks between the two sides could start "within weeks."

Well of course they could. But how meaningful would they be?


Dubious claims of a peacenik

By Melanie Phillips, January 10, 2011

One of the great divisions among Jews is between those who believe the Palestinians are genuinely prepared to live in a Palestine state side-by-side with Israel, and those who believe that they are not. The former are scorned by the latter as dreamers or idiots, the latter denounced by the former as right-wing extremists and bigots.


Chief Rabbi as mythical hero

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 10, 2011

It was the celebrated historian A. J. P. Taylor who taught me a fundamental truth about my profession. Commenting more or less positively on a research seminar presentation I'd given, he remarked: "Remember, Geoffrey, that the historian's job is to destroy myth. Of course, it is far better to prevent myth in the first place."

It is in this spirit - prevention being better than cure - that I offer some thoughts triggered by the encomia that greeted the announcement that Lord Sacks is to retire as Chief Rabbi at his contractual retirement age in 2013.


I am more restive than festive

By Daniel Finkelstein, December 30, 2010

It was chaos. There were a lot of Jews about, and so of course it was chaos. We were inside 10 Downing Street - which is often chaotic but they keep it hidden in the side rooms and at the back, up the stairs.

On the surface, things are calm - "No, no, after you, Monsieur le President". This was chaos in the state rooms, at a public reception.

It was the annual Number 10 Chanucah party and every single guest was trying to sing the blessings using a different tune.


Pinteresque drama at school

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 29, 2010

The Yesodey Hatorah schools, Hackney, owe their existence principally to the efforts of the late rabbis Abraham Pardes and Shmuel Pinter. The kindergarten and primary schools are private establishments. But the secondary school is "voluntary aided", meaning that it is part-funded by the state and is expected to conform to certain state-mandated norms.