Columnists

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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Who runs Israel doesn’t matter

By Daniel Finkelstein, April 7, 2009

It seems like an age ago, and I suppose in a way it was another age, but watching President Obama in London last week reminded me of the previous occasion when a new US President visited the city for the first time.

George W Bush was not then quite the villain for the left that he subsequently became. And even though liberals weren’t that fond of him even then, there was a feeling of a new era and some hope attended his visit.

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Labour’s spineless tactics

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 7, 2009

A year or so from now we shall be experiencing a general election. When polling day comes around, Labour will be defending a majority of 67 seats. On the basis of current trends, this could be wiped out, but it is well known that there is generally a swing back to the governing party (“better the devil you know”) on the actual day of the poll.

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A shabby shul magazine story

By Miriam Shaviv, April 2, 2009

Britain’s one-time oldest man, Harris Shoerats, died in 1984 aged 111. Explaining his longevity in a radio interview, he said: “First, I am a lifelong vegetarian. Second, I begin each day with a glass of whisky. And third, I never got involved with the politics of my local synagogue.”

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Wrong way to attack the BNP

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 2, 2009

In two months’ time, the country will go to the polls to elect members of the European Parliament. The British National Party has high hopes that it will register its first Euro-election success at these contests, building on its recent local election victories and the election last year of its first member of the London Assembly.

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