Columnists

Big test of settlement attitudes

By Jonathan Freedland, June 4, 2009

By all accounts, Barack Obama is a keen and skilful poker player. That’s useful to know because he’s about to call the bluff of Israel and many of its supporters around the world.

That much became clear last week when Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, told Israel that the President “wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions” but an end to all settlement expansion on the West Bank. Period.

Obama himself has rammed the point home. He wants a “freeze on settlements”: no qualifiers.

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HSA’s policies need attention

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 4, 2009

The Hospital Savings Association (HSA) was founded in 1922, long before the establishment of the National Health Service. The HSA was then merely one of a large number of quasi-charitable bodies — many of them associated with the trade-union and friendly-society (including Jewish friendly-society) movements — that provided access to quality medical care in return for a modest weekly outlay. In the case of the HSA, this outlay amounted to three (old) pence per week. At that time, workhouse hospitals catered for the poor, and private hospitals for the well-to-do.

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Gay soldiers, a rabbi and Mr X

By David Aaronovitch, May 28, 2009

There is a secret life of headlines. Most of the specific complaints that are ever made to me about what I write have something to do with what I didn’t write: the headline. A large amount of what people imagine they read in my columns exists in the headlines, and not in my copy. And so it is with news stories, too.

Of course, the headline above this column, which I haven’t read and can hardly imagine, will be impeccable. But elsewhere?

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It’s not Zionism that fuels hate

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 28, 2009

A question that has often arisen in recent times is: what are the causes of contemporary anti-Jewish prejudice? It is a big question, and it would require a great deal more space than a newspaper column to answer it in any depth.

Nonetheless, simply because a question has been asked before doesn’t mean it should not be asked again. Just because I’m a simple newspaper columnist doesn’t mean that I should not attempt some sort of answer. Besides, I confess that I have an ulterior motive in troubling you again with this topic.

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Why I am rooting for Ahmadinejad

By Miriam Shaviv, May 28, 2009

Most Westerners do not know who they want to win the Iranian presidential elections on June 12. But they certainly know who they want to lose: the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz wants Ahmadinejad prosecuted for “incitement to genocide”. Liberals line up to slam him as an “extremist” who stands in the way of a détente with the United States. And the Americans themselves have told Israel to tone down their anti-Iranian rhetoric until after the elections, because it might give Ahmadinejad a boost.

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Boycotting Limmud failed. So why again with JCoSS?

By Miriam Shaviv, May 21, 2009

Certain generals, it is said, always fight the last war — using the tactics that provided victory in the past in order to fight new battles, even when completely inappropriate. But our United Synagogue rabbis are blundering even further — fighting the last war, even though it was one they lost.

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Proper Jewish pride, by George

By Melanie Phillips, May 21, 2009

Against the current backdrop of rampant anti-Israel and anti-Jewish prejudice, we find ourselves once again asking the age-old question: why are people antisemites? What is it about the Jews that makes some people hate us so much?

But we might also ask ourselves the reverse question: why are other people philosemites? Why should certain people have such a deep love for the Jews? And what might be learned about the Jews from such love?

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Why Bibi and Obama cosied up

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 21, 2009

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu met US President Barack Obama in one of the most minutely choreographed get-togethers in the history of diplomatic relations. The President can claim an overwhelming mandate to break with the policies of the Bush era. The Prime Minister can claim an overwhelming mandate to protect Israel’s interests in the international arena.

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All religions are not the same

By Daniel Finkelstein, May 14, 2009

Here’s the argument. I will lay it out for you as simply and as swiftly as I can. I am a Scientologist. Well, no better than a Scientologist. Religions are man-made, and there is no reason to favour their claims to moral authority or special protection. And what demonstrates this is our attitude to new religions.

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Slaughtering of the opposition

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 14, 2009

The decision by the European Parliament last week to legalise Jewish religious slaughter —shechita — in all EU member states is a victory for religious freedom. It also reflects a remarkable pooling of efforts by a disciplined coalition of pro-shechita lobbies: the European Jewish Congress, the Conference of European Rabbis, and last but by no means least, Shechita UK.

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