Items to usher in a good year

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 15, 2009

It is time — I thought as I recovered from Yom Kippur — to reflect upon some recent good news stories. So, now we are into a new year, let me share with you some of these stories and invite you to join me in savouring the optimism that they project.


Goldstone's human wrongs

By Melanie Phillips, October 8, 2009

In the theatre of the absurd that now passes for international relations, a Jewish human-rights lawyer takes the side of those who wage genocidal war against the Jews.

This is in turn deemed profoundly unhelpful to a “peace process” that is attempting to reward with territory others waging the same genocidal war — albeit with better manners — against the same Jews, a process that now expects those Jews to make concessions to their assailants, who will themselves be exempt from making reciprocal gestures to their victims.


Every chief needs a rich patron

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 8, 2009

‘While the Chief Rabbi prepares to don his ermine… speculation is growing over who is likely to succeed him as mainstream Orthodoxy’s spiritual supremo.” So ran the introduction to Simon Rocker’s reflections (JC, September 25) on the gossip now beginning to gather momentum, triggered by the realisation that Professor Lord Sacks has only three-and-a-half years remaining of his contract as Chief Rabbi of “the United Hebrew Congregations”. Who — if anyone — will succeed him?


Cameron’s neo-con heritage

By Daniel Finkelstein, October 1, 2009

I call it his “Heir to Irving strategy”. Not its conventional name, I admit, but I think it fits.

I am not the first person to notice that David Cameron’s conservatism is not what we have been used to from the Conservative Party.

His talk of community, of voluntary action, of civil society; his attempts to explain why he is a progressive; his insistence that there is more to life than money; his emphasis on the need to lift people out of poverty. They seem odd themes for a Tory.


Excusing Iran is a fatal flaw

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 1, 2009

At one level, no one need be the least bit surprised at either the tone or the content of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s most recent speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation.

Not once during that speech — apparently — did Ahmadinejad mention Israel or the Jews.

“It is no longer acceptable”, the Iranian President insisted — “that a small minority would dominate the politics, economy and culture of major parts of the world by its complicated networks”.


Dancing to a different tune

By Miriam Shaviv, September 24, 2009

The first time I watched Dirty Dancing, as a teenager, I completely missed its Jewish undertones.

Swept up in the music and the moves, and of course, completely in love with Patrick Swayze — who died last week, aged 57 — I naturally rooted for middle-class “Baby” to overcome her parents’ prejudices and get together with her working-class dance instructor, Johnny Castle.


Bias within 'impartial' body

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 24, 2009

Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, is a much-published academic, the recipient of numerous awards.

On January 11, her signature appeared, along with the signatures of other lawyers, below a letter in the Sunday Times that was highly critical of Israel’s military action in Gaza. The signatories deplored Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel. But these attacks did not, protested the signatories, justify Israel’s military response, which, in the view of the signatories, amounted to “aggression, not self-defence.”


We were once the 'maniacs'

By Jonathan Freedland, September 17, 2009

Terror suspects, caught by police surveillance, boast of the blood-curdling havoc they hope to wreak. “The corpse of an enemy smells nice”, they hiss. In messages addressed to the British public, they say the deaths they plan are “retribution you have so justly earned.” After all, insist the killers, “For many years we have suffered humiliation.”


Firemen ignore the real fires

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 17, 2009

This week, the Fire Brigades Union asked the Trades Union Congress to support a motion exhorting the massed ranks of the British trades-union movement to endorse a policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel. Under the motion, the TUC would have to promote a boycott of goods and services originating from Israel, and do its damndest to encourage divestment from companies operating in the territories. Additionally, the TUC would be obliged to reconsider its relationship with the Histadrut, its Israeli counterpart.


Let's cut out the shul snobbery and be grateful

By Miriam Shaviv, September 10, 2009

In the past two years, I have been to shul no more than a dozen times. A crisis of faith? Not at all. Because my neighbourhood has no eruv, and I have very young children, I rarely go to services on Shabbat — when I would not be able to carry or push them — and attend, instead, on Yomtov, when the restrictions don’t apply.