Columnists

Chanucah v Xmas: no contest

By Daniel Finkelstein, December 23, 2008

Slade were wrong. Yes: “Here it is, Merry Christmas”. But not everybody is having fun.

Every year at Christmas time, I have the same discussions with my colleagues. How can I be doing nothing — nothing — to celebrate the great day? They find it hard to believe that I do not mark the birth of Christ at all. Not even by putting a little pine tree in my lounge.

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The JLC got nothing from Brown

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 23, 2008

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary took it upon themselves to meet a delegation from the Jewish Leadership Council. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are extremely busy people and for either of them — let alone both — to set aside time to meet the supposed representatives of what is numerically one of the smallest of Britain’s ethnic minorities, comprising much less than one half of one per cent of the UK’s total population, can mean only one of two things.

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Religious courts have a place

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 18, 2008

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Nothing could better illustrate the truth of this dictum than the recent launch of a campaign to suppress all religious tribunals in this country. And nothing could better support Alderman’s oft-repeated contention that the greatest enemies of religious freedom are those who disguise themselves as champions of individual rights.

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I have a dream — a new shul

By Jonathan Freedland, December 11, 2008

If you want to mark the festival of lights with a hernia, I have just the gift for you. Weighing in at a scales-busting 14lbs, A Book of Jews, featured in last week’s JC, is a magnificent treat of a photo album, packed with portraits of every Jew you’ve ever heard of — and plenty that will have you saying “Him? Never!” (Boris Becker anyone?) It will have you swelling with pride: all those scientists (Einstein), artists (Chagall) and swimmers (Spitz). But there is the odd cause for pause, too, thanks to the assorted gangsters, villains and no-goodniks who also make the cut.

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Faith schools minus the faith?

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 11, 2008

Amid all the current doom and gloom, do you fancy some light relief? If so, and you have access to a computer, may I recommend that you read the Runnymede Trust’s recent report entitled Right to divide? Faith Schools and Community Cohesion?

On the face of it, this document is no joke. Among its conclusions is the warning that current provision for learning about religion “is too often poor in schools without a religious character”. Well, I’ll say Amen to that.

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Gethsemane’s stereotype Jew

By David Aaronovitch, December 4, 2008

This is a strange one, this row about Sir David Hare’s Gethsemane and the Jewishness or otherwise of its devilish (though charming) character, Otto Fallon. I think the saga, with its attendant accusations of antisemitism, is telling us something, but what on earth is it?

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C of E sanctioned Israel hate

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 4, 2008

Should you, by any chance, have been in the vicinity of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, on the evening of Wednesday 26 November last, you might perhaps have heard one of the most blatant pieces of anti-Israeli propaganda to have come from the bowels of the Established Church of England in modern times.

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Appease Syria — court disaster

By Melanie Phillips, November 27, 2008

Along with other British Jews, I have heard the Prime Minister speak movingly in public of his attachment to Israel, forged at his father's knee in the Scottish manse where the people of the book were revered and their attachment to their ancient land cause for sympathy and support.

Yet, at this moment of intense and escalating danger for Israel, his government has nevertheless chosen to suck up to its enemies.

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A quota on Jewish MPs?

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 27, 2008

Earlier this month, the House of Commons resolved to established a "Speaker's Conference" - in effect, an all-party committee of inquiry chaired by the Speaker - 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".

Whatever the detailed outcomes emanating from this investigation, its conclusions have the potential to affect adversely the status of Britain's Jewish citizens.

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I say silence the Shabbat siren

By Daniel Finkelstein, November 20, 2008

I had to read the story twice to be sure I had understood it correctly.

In Stamford Hill, a "Shabbat siren" has been announcing the arrival of the Sabbath. Actually, I'd better be precise. It is not, strictly speaking, a siren. It is "a selection of music and songs being played over a number of loudspeakers". Apparently, those who established it want to make the area "more like Jerusalem".

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