Columnists

JFS: Why are no heads rolling?

By Jonathan Freedland, January 7, 2010

It’s a new year, a new decade and a time when we are told to look forward, rather than back. Nowhere is this attitude stronger than among the leaders of British Jewry who, after one of the most appalling episodes in our communal history — the Supreme Court ruling that the admissions policy of JFS fell foul of the law on racial discrimination — are keen that we draw a line and move on.

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Unsavoury side of strict conversion

By Miriam Shaviv, December 30, 2009

Three children rejected from JFS, their parents’ conversions in doubt and their own Jewish identities in tatters. A legal ruling by a British court establishing “Who is a Jew” in a way at odds with the traditional Jewish definition. A community at risk of schism.

How did we get into this mess?

A scandal currently unfolding in New York, at first glance completely unrelated, may shed some light on the current farce.

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Me and my propaganda pals

By David Aaronovitch, December 30, 2009

On the Monday morning, I found out I’d been libelled by the Independent on Sunday. It was in one of those media gossip columns that proliferate these days because you can get cheap, young journalists to write pages of stuff without the expense of leaving the office.

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An unseemly public brouhaha

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 30, 2009

The now very public slanging match involving Michael Gross and David Newman, reported in the JC last month, represents, for me, a multiple sadness.

On November 16, Newman, the British-born professor of political geography at Israel’s Ben-Gurion university (BGU), appeared on the notorious Channel Four Dispatches pseudo-documentary that purported to examine the working and impact of “Britain’s Israel Lobby.”

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Aid to Livni is not pro-Israel

By Melanie Phillips, December 22, 2009

Five years ago, anti-Israel campaigners tried to arrest the then Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz for “war crimes” while he was on a visit to London.

Since then, a steady stream of senior Israeli officials have either narrowly escaped similar arrest in Britain through diplomatic immunity, or have had to cancel planned visits because such an arrest was all too likely.

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In defeat, JFS still won't learn

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 22, 2009

I was not surprised at the judgment of the Supreme Court that — in initially rejecting the application made on behalf of the child “M”— JFS and its religious authority, Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, had contravened the 1976 Race Relations Act.

It has to be said at the outset that the advocacy of the counsel representing “M”, Dinah Rose QC, was brilliant. Calmly and methodically, Ms Rose demolished the disingenuous arguments put forward by Lord Pannick on behalf of JFS.

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Labelling as sop to boycotters

By Daniel Finkelstein, December 17, 2009

‘The British government is opposed to any kind of boycott of Israel” says a spokesman for the British Embassy in Israel. Yeah, right. What do you think I am mate, an idiot? (Don’t answer that.)

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Israel's settlements are legal

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 17, 2009

What role, if any, does the present UK government see for itself as a peacemaker in the Middle East? Does it see itself as an honest broker, or has it already taken sides? Some developments over the past fortnight — which build on the lesson we must learn from the UK government’s refusal to condemn or even criticise the Goldstone report — do I think enable us to answer these important questions.

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My quest for the one true faith

By Julie Burchill, December 9, 2009

Earlier this year, I did something I had dreamed of since I was a child growing up in the very gentile English West Country; I attended a synagogue. After a few months, I stopped. It wasn’t them, it was me.

When I decided a few years ago that I wanted to put something back after having such a gorgeous, fun life for so long, my first thought was volunteering, which I did. This in turn led me to wonder why Christians carry out so much of the voluntary work in this country — a whopping 80 per cent.

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Minaret ban is really small fry

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 9, 2009

On December 1, a church in central London hosted an anti-Israeli Christmas concert. On the pavement outside, a participant in this event mouthed appalling anti-Jewish sentiments, which you can see and hear on a video posted on the JC website. What did the Board of Deputies of British Jews do? Nothing.

The following day, the website of the Jerusalem Post published graphic film of a Palestinian Arab stabbing a Jewish soldier at a West Bank checkpoint. What was the reaction of the Board of Deputies? There was none.

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