Columnists

Tories' Euro links make sense

By Daniel Finkelstein, November 5, 2009

In the late 1980s, when I was still in my 20s, I was sent on a diplomatic mission. I failed. And it wasn’t only because I am not the diplomatic type.

I was sent to Luxembourg, you see, by former Foreign Secretary David Owen to investigate the possibility of the Social Democratic Party (by that time tiny) joining the European People’s Party. The EPP, the group of Europe’s Christian Democrats, was meeting to agree upon its programme and I spent a couple of days meeting its key figures. Then I sat down with party officials and we got to the point.

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JFS is inclusive - exclusively so

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 5, 2009

Last week, in a packed Supreme Court, I heard learned counsel advance arguments against and for the view of the Court of Appeal that, in acting on an edict handed down by the United Synagogue’s Chief Rabbi and so refusing a child (“M”) admission to JFS, that school had breached the 1976 Race Relations Act.

That this is an important case needs no emphasising. But, if anyone doubted its significance, the presence in that court room of the world’s press (to say nothing of communal representatives of every shade of opinion) ought to have settled the matter.

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Israel sleepwalks into PR hell

By Miriam Shaviv, October 28, 2009

For supporters of Israel, it was like a punch to the gut.

Last Thursday night on Question Time, BNP leader Nick Griffin told the country that the BNP was the only party to support Israel in its war “against the terrorists” during Operation Cast Lead.

This was possibly the worst public relations blow to Israel in this country since Operation Cast Lead itself, perhaps longer. Mr Griffin has just ensured that anyone who supports Israel, or its right to defend itself, can be linked to the BNP. The association might take years to shake off.

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Shimon, stay out of politics

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 28, 2009

During the recent Succot festivities, an extraordinary meeting took place in the succah of rabbi Yosef Elyashiv in Jerusalem. Rabbi Elyashiv — now in his hundredth year — is a talmudic sage without equal in the Charedi world. As spiritual leader of the Degel Hatorah party (now part of United Torah Judaism, which has two seats in the current Knesset) he also naturally wields a certain amount of political influence within as well as beyond Jewish state.

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A big blind eye to extremism

By Jonathan Freedland, October 22, 2009

Here’s one accusation I never thought I’d have to make: I’m worried that we Jews are not sensitive enough about antisemitism. Oh, I know we’re super-vigilant about the threat from the Arab and Islamist extremes and I know, too, that we scour every sentence in the liberal media for the smallest hint of bias. Rightly so.

Yet when a menace looms so large it could blot out the sun, somehow we fail to see it — even when the source of the danger is that part of the world where antisemitism wreaked its most lethal havoc.

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Board packs a (puny) punch

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 22, 2009

There’s nothing like a good row to clear the air — and I welcome the revelations of recent discord between the Board of Deputies and other communal interests.

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How can we trust Kaminski?

By David Aaronovitch, October 15, 2009

Could I have been one of the “Eurofanatics” who was only raising the Kaminski case (as I did in The Times a fortnight ago) in order to embarrass the Conservative Party?

The editor of the JC would seem to think so, since he admitted no other category of critic in his pugnacious assault on the “smear tactic” used against Mr K, who turns out to be a friend of the Jews (or Israel, which is held to mean the same thing).

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Items to usher in a good year

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 15, 2009

It is time — I thought as I recovered from Yom Kippur — to reflect upon some recent good news stories. So, now we are into a new year, let me share with you some of these stories and invite you to join me in savouring the optimism that they project.

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Goldstone's human wrongs

By Melanie Phillips, October 8, 2009

In the theatre of the absurd that now passes for international relations, a Jewish human-rights lawyer takes the side of those who wage genocidal war against the Jews.

This is in turn deemed profoundly unhelpful to a “peace process” that is attempting to reward with territory others waging the same genocidal war — albeit with better manners — against the same Jews, a process that now expects those Jews to make concessions to their assailants, who will themselves be exempt from making reciprocal gestures to their victims.

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Every chief needs a rich patron

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 8, 2009

‘While the Chief Rabbi prepares to don his ermine… speculation is growing over who is likely to succeed him as mainstream Orthodoxy’s spiritual supremo.” So ran the introduction to Simon Rocker’s reflections (JC, September 25) on the gossip now beginning to gather momentum, triggered by the realisation that Professor Lord Sacks has only three-and-a-half years remaining of his contract as Chief Rabbi of “the United Hebrew Congregations”. Who — if anyone — will succeed him?

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