Columnists

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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Palestinians don’t want a state

By Miriam Shaviv, May 7, 2009

Do the Palestinians really want a state? It seems like a rhetorical question. The Palestinian struggle for self-determination has been a feature of international politics for decades and a Palestinian state has been the ultimate goal of negotiations with Israel since the Madrid Conference in 1991.

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Beware ‘ethnic’ lists for MPs

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 7, 2009

Last November, I devoted my column to a consideration of the Speaker’s Conference that had been summoned to “consider, and make recommendations for rectifying, the disparity between the representation of women and ethnic minorities and disabled people in the House of Commons and their representation in the UK population at large”.

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A very futile boycott attempt

By Jonathan Freedland, April 30, 2009

Tricky business, boycotts. Take the case of Omar Barghouti. In 2004, the graduate of Columbia in New York helped found the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel campaign, urging scholars and researchers around the world to cut ties with Israel’s universities. But, as reported in last week’s JC, Barghouti is studying for a doctorate at… Tel Aviv University.

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No rabbi can ‘represent’ us all

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 30, 2009

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, soon to step down as head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has never been afraid to speak his mind. But some off-the-cuff remarks he made over the recent Passover/Easter period are likely to have set several cats among the pigeons, though I doubt that his Eminence will have realised this at the time.

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Gilad Atzmon's discordant notes

By David Aaronovitch, April 23, 2009

Here’s a story in which I take no pleasure. Some time ago, I was asked to participate in a “debate” on antisemitism at a respectable literary festival. The other speakers were to be Denis MacShane MP and the radical Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe. Though the debate’s topic was unclear, with a book due to be published on conspiracy theories, I happily agreed.

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Beis Medrash Elyon School, behave!

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 23, 2009

Beis Medrash Elyon is an independent secondary school for boys. It was established in 2001 and currently has on its roll some 45 or so pupils. Most of its teaching staff are part-time. It is an Orthodox Jewish faith school; indeed five years ago it took the trouble of obtaining special designation by the UK government as one of a select number of independent schools that are permitted “to take account of certain religious considerations in making specified employment decisions which relate to teaching staff”.

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When ‘friends’ can be enemies

By Melanie Phillips, April 16, 2009

The response of Chas W Freeman, the short-lived chairman-designate of the US National Security Council, to being forced to resign recently after protests over his lobbying activities for Saudi Arabia and China and his extreme antipathy to Israel, was not merely to pin the blame on that all-purpose scapegoat, “the Jewish lobby”, or even its modern version, “the Israel lobby”. He came up with another variation on the theme.

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Israel’s dubious Irish visitor

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 16, 2009

Shortly before Pesach, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams announced that he planned to visit Israel over the festive season and that he intended to “meet with all sides and urge all sides to end all armed actions and to engage in meaningful dialogue.”

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