Columnists

I can see why people voted BNP

By Daniel Finkelstein, June 18, 2009

It was well past two o’clock in the morning and I had been sitting on a hard, small stool for more than five hours. I couldn’t put my feet down properly on the ground, nor could I stand up, because I was live on the BBC European Election results programme. At any moment, someone might ask me why I thought Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer party had found favour among Slovaks. Things couldn’t get any worse. And then they did.

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Women rabbis? Why ever not?

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 18, 2009

Avraham Weiss is one of the most dynamic Orthodox rabbis to have emerged in the post-Holocaust era.

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Obama shows he really means business

By Alex Brummer, June 11, 2009

Amid the British media’s blanket coverage of the Labour Party’s disintegration, few other stories have broken on to the front pages or into leader columns. An exception was President Obama’s much-hyped Cairo address. This even managed to unify those papers which cast a very critical eye over Israel’s actions in the Middle East with those that tend to take a more balanced view.

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The real Obama ultimatum

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 11, 2009

Did Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo on June 4 signal a looming confrontation with the government of Israel?

As an example of political rhetoric, the speech was a tour-de-force. It confirmed — if confirmation was needed — that the US President is a great orator. It also confirmed the President as a risk-taker, and a courageous one.

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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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