Columnists

The BNP respectable? Hmmm

By David Aaronovitch, January 8, 2009

I begin the goyishe new year with the shattering observation that people are odd. If we are very unlucky, we might find out in the next 12 months just how odd. This generalisation is attached to a story, of sorts. About a month ago, following the leak of the membership lists of the British National Party, I wrote in The Times that respectability would always be denied to an organisation that contained, at its core, a collection of genuine antisemites and equally authentic criminals and convicts.

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Jews who are no longer Jewish

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 8, 2009

Of all the columns I have written for this page, none has caused a greater outcry than that published on 3 August 2007. This addressed the question of whether or not it was possible for Jews to engage in a meaningful dialogue with Muslims. Referring to the Koran, and to the very early history of the Islamic faith, I observed that Islam had been founded “in part, on an explicit anti-Jewish discourse”.

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Out of tune fiddling on the roof

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 30, 2008

Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, the location of the bizarre end-of-term production of Fiddler on the Roof reported in the JC of December 19, is a prestigious, much-sought-after state school. As its website proudly proclaims, it was the first sixth-form college in the country to be awarded Ofsted’s “designated outstanding” status, by virtue of being assessed as outstanding in all inspection categories.

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Durban II: a sick, cynical farce

By Melanie Phillips, December 30, 2008

A few days before 9/11, the UN hosted an appalling explosion of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred at an obscenely named “human rights” conference in Durban, South Africa.

While the worst of these gross libels and Nazi-style caricatures were expressed by the NGOs attending the conference, the official governmental declaration also made its underlying anti-Israel agenda clear.

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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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