Columnists

Bias within 'impartial' body

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 24, 2009

Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, is a much-published academic, the recipient of numerous awards.

On January 11, her signature appeared, along with the signatures of other lawyers, below a letter in the Sunday Times that was highly critical of Israel’s military action in Gaza. The signatories deplored Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel. But these attacks did not, protested the signatories, justify Israel’s military response, which, in the view of the signatories, amounted to “aggression, not self-defence.”

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We were once the 'maniacs'

By Jonathan Freedland, September 17, 2009

Terror suspects, caught by police surveillance, boast of the blood-curdling havoc they hope to wreak. “The corpse of an enemy smells nice”, they hiss. In messages addressed to the British public, they say the deaths they plan are “retribution you have so justly earned.” After all, insist the killers, “For many years we have suffered humiliation.”

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Firemen ignore the real fires

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 17, 2009

This week, the Fire Brigades Union asked the Trades Union Congress to support a motion exhorting the massed ranks of the British trades-union movement to endorse a policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel. Under the motion, the TUC would have to promote a boycott of goods and services originating from Israel, and do its damndest to encourage divestment from companies operating in the territories. Additionally, the TUC would be obliged to reconsider its relationship with the Histadrut, its Israeli counterpart.

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Let's cut out the shul snobbery and be grateful

By Miriam Shaviv, September 10, 2009

In the past two years, I have been to shul no more than a dozen times. A crisis of faith? Not at all. Because my neighbourhood has no eruv, and I have very young children, I rarely go to services on Shabbat — when I would not be able to carry or push them — and attend, instead, on Yomtov, when the restrictions don’t apply.

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How to insult successfully

By David Aaronovitch, September 9, 2009

The other week I appeared in a documentary on US TV which, among other things, demolished some of the conspiracy theorists’ cherished notions of how Bush brought down the twin towers eight years ago today. My role was to explain how otherwise sane people believed insane things. Soon the emails started to arrive. Let me take two to stand for the rest.

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This JFS mess was avoidable

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 9, 2009

I have read few documents in the field of Anglo-Jewish history more miserable in tone and more immature in content than the “Certificate of Religious Practice”, which is now required from all parents who wish their children to be considered for admission to the JFS in September 2010.

Only applicants scoring at least three points in answer to a series of questions will be given “priority” status. Has your child attended synagogue (apparently any synagogue, however informal, will do) on the High Holy Days — Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (two points)?

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Obama's dangerous strategy

By Melanie Phillips, September 3, 2009

The farce over doorknobs for centrifuges masks the fact that President Obama’s whole Middle East strategy is in the process of imploding.

Obama has been pressuring Israel to freeze every brick and widow-frame of all settlement construction as a precondition for the US “getting tough” with Iran. This has caused Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to walk a diplomatic tightrope. But it is arguably President Obama who has the rope around his own neck.

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BNP case is of special concern

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 3, 2009

Last October, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, David Davies, addressed the annual conference of the National Black Police Association. Mr Davies had apparently been invited by mistake — the NBPA had meant to ask the former shadow Home Secretary, David Davis. No matter, Mr Davies is a special constable.

The speech he gave clearly arrested his audience — so much so that, while some gave him the slow handclap, others simply walked out.

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Bevis Marks: a very fishy row

By Jonathan Freedland, August 27, 2009

They say there’s no war so bitter as a civil war, to which we can surely add an amendment. There is no broiges quite so acrimonious as a synagogue broiges. If you want a row that has fear, loathing and everything in between, look no further than a bust-up in a shul.

The sensible JC columnist would steer well clear. It’s impossible to write about a synagogue dispute without one faction — sometimes both — denouncing you in the following week’s letters page for totally misunderstanding the entire business. Still, every rule is made to be broken — so here goes.

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I'm ashamed to be British

By Geoffrey Alderman, August 27, 2009

This has not been the best of months for the standing and reputation of the British judicial system. On Thursday 6 August, the UK justice secretary, Jack Straw, announced that he had decided to release from prison, on compassionate grounds, one Ronald Biggs. Exactly two weeks later the Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, announced that he had decided to release from prison, on identical grounds, Mr Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi.

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