Columnists

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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A muddled view of extremism

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 3, 2009

I do hope that the rumours circulating around Whitehall are true, and that Gordon Brown is indeed preparing to announce the conferment of a life peerage on Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain. I hope it is true for three reasons.

First, there can be little doubt that the peerage recently bestowed upon Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has not gone down well in all parts of the Muslim world.

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Why I wish I had said Kaddish

By Miriam Shaviv, December 3, 2009

Last week was my mother Judy’s first yahrzeit. She died, aged just 57, following a long illness and was buried, at her request, in her beloved Israel. The family is — naturally — still reeling from our loss, still getting used to a new reality. How we miss her grace and good humour, her courage, her insights, her love for us all. It has been a very long year.

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Casually caustic 'diplomacy'

By Jonathan Freedland, November 26, 2009

If every great stereotype should be lived up to, then the retired panjandrums of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been fulfilling their duty admirably. The stereotype, cherished fondly by British Jews down the ages, is of the FCO man as “Arabist”, innately hostile to Israel and with perhaps a less-than-charitable attitude towards — how shall we put it? — those of the Mosaic persuasion.

No doubt today’s Foreign Office would reject the caricature, noting that they serve happily under a Jewish Foreign Secretary. But the ex-diplomats don’t all seem to have got the memo.

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