Columnists

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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How not to handle international blood libel

By Miriam Shaviv, August 27, 2009

Last week, Aftonbladet, a Swedish tabloid, carried a story alleging that the IDF killed Palestinians in order to harvest their internal organs.

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It is right to expose Wiesenthal

By Daniel Finkelstein, August 20, 2009

‘Simon Wiesenthal’s reputation is built on sand. He was a liar and a bad one at that. From the end of the war to the end of his life, he would lie repeatedly about his supposed hunt for Eichmann as well as his other Nazi-hunting exploits.

“Wiesenthal would also concoct outrageous stories about his war years and make false claims about his academic career.”

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A wedding guest’s discourtesy

By Geoffrey Alderman, August 20, 2009

On Sunday August 9, a marriage ceremony took place in London’s East End. The bride was an investment banker and her groom the director of a training company and there were around 800 guests.

By all accounts (and there have been many accounts, since the wedding to which I refer was reported across the national press and on radio and television), this was a glitzy, upper-middle-class affair.

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Irresponsible immobile rabbisc

By Geoffrey Alderman, August 6, 2009

On July 22, the Beth Din of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations issued an encyclical on the subject of mobile telephones. The encyclical itself is — naturally — in unvowelled Hebrew.

So we can be sure that, as originally promulgated, it was neither meant for nor intended to be read by the generality of Jews in this country. No; its primary target audience consisted merely of a subset of practising Orthodox Jews, the word “practising” here denoting the observance of rules and regulations over and above those prescribed in the Torah and the Talmud.

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The ironies of hating oneself

By David Aaronovitch, August 6, 2009

I was faffing around in the end of the 19th century, for reasons connected with another project, when I came across the name of Otto Weininger. Some readers will already know of the young Viennese Jew who converted to Christianity in 1902, published the book Sex and Character in the summer of 1903, and killed himself four months later, but I hadn’t encountered him before.

To modern ears, the striking thing about Weininger is not his pseudo-scientific stance on sexuality — that was common to his period, and is not unknown today.

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Calling Jews Nazis is offensive but not racist, and should be allowed as part of a debate about Israel

By Daniel Finkelstein, July 23, 2009

I have recently begun a campaign (my grand name for writing a post on my blog) against the misuse of the prefix “pre-”.

I noticed that private hire cars now appear on the streets with a London Transport sign and the words “pre-booked only”. I have tried pre-booking a cab, but always just end up booking it instead. Pre-book, pre-order, pre-prepared. It is pre-preposterous.

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UK’s arms ban: pure hypocrisy

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 23, 2009

Earlier this month, the British government appeared to take the first step towards the imposition of an embargo on the export of United Kingdom-manufactured military equipment to Israel.
That is not how the news was meant to look. Indeed, it now seems that the decision was not meant to be in the public domain at all.

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Don’t sneer at Madoff’s wife

By Miriam Shaviv, July 16, 2009

Why does Ruth Madoff inspire such vitriol? According to the New York Times, the wife of fraudster Bernie Madoff, who is now serving a 150-year sentence for running a massive Ponzi scheme, is “the loneliest woman in New York City”.

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So Gaza was disproportionate

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 16, 2009

Earlier this year, two military operations were undertaken in two of the world’s most volatile conflict zones. In the first, Israel launched a large-scale incursion into Gaza, following months of rocket and grenade attacks against Israel by Gaza’s Hamas government and by independent Islamist militias that Hamas was unable or unwilling to control.

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