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Being rude is not a crime

By Stephen Pollard, October 1, 2009

Some of my best friends are Jews. Of course. And given what you're reading at the moment, so are yours. Here’s the thing: my friends have, on occasion, annoyed me. No big deal. Friends do that to each other sometimes. And what with some of them being Jews, that means that I’ve been annoyed by Jews.

Do you know what? I think I might have sworn at them. Bloody Cohen. I’ve probably even used the f word. And I expect that they’ve been offended by my language.

Here’s my question. Should I have been prosecuted because they took offence?

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This man transformed the world

By Stephen Pollard, September 24, 2009

Can I share with you one of the most terrifying moments of my life? I was giving a talk on ‘the protean Left’ at a seminar in Washington, DC. As if the other panellists — Fred Barnes and Eric Breindel — were not daunting enough, what reduced me to a palpably gibbering, sweaty, nerve-wracked hulk was the sight that greeted me in the front row.

Lined up before me were every one of my intellectual heroes: Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, Gertrude Himmelfarb and Irving Kristol. And they were focussed on one thing: me.

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Be fair, give unions their due

By Roger Lyons, September 24, 2009

There has been confusion and anger over the past week about the criticism of Israel by the TUC at its annual conference last week.  The initial picture does look negative, but when you look at the final motion, and understand how trade unions develop policy, its final bark is probably much worse than its bite.    

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Coping with the yomtov feet of endurance

By Naomi Greenaway, September 24, 2009

Last week, during a break from Israel-bashing, the Trades Union Congress championed the plight of air stewardesses, bank clerks and receptionists who are forced to wear high heels to work.

They should only know what we female shul-goers endure over the High Holy-Days — long walks, steep stairs and those never-ending Amidahs. Add in obstructed vision from under a hat brim and perhaps a child or two hanging off each appendage, and the trolley dolly’s slow totter up the aisle hanging off a drinks cart begins to look like a walk in the park (and they don’t even do any of the cooking).

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Let this year be a really new one

By Ned Temko, September 24, 2009

Maybe it’s the time of year. But, after a few years’ gentle withdrawal from most things communal — a period when my Jewish sensitivities were as often engaged by Spurs as by a siddur — I was powerfully struck by a message from the Chief Rabbi in last week’s JC.

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Israel watches diplomatic chess game with alarm

By Tim Marshall, September 17, 2009

The weather turns, the leaves begin to fall, a new diplomatic season is upon us.

The first day of term is always the beginning of September. World leaders return from Kennebunkport, Provence and the Aegean to be pestered by special advisers over their contributions to the UN General Assembly.

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Try being positive? How depressing

By Simon Round, September 17, 2009

Hey, it’s Rosh Hashanah. A new year is on its way and, boy, is it going to be a good one. The recession is so last year, world peace is on its way and we’re all going to get really rich and save the planet in the process.

No, I have not been forgetting my medication. I know this kind of unbridled optimism makes me sound a little, er, unusual. I also realise that the only other people in the country as relentlessly optimistic about the future are Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling — and no one believes them either.

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Why has liberal Britain deserted Derek?

By Martin Bright, September 17, 2009

One man’s long and heroic struggle for justice has gone largely unreported. Derek Pasquill is a former Foreign Office civil servant who was responsible for a series of leaks in 2005 that revealed the full extent of the influence of the Muslim Council of Britain and other Islamist institutions within Whitehall.

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A vital message: put children first

By Lord Jonathan Sacks, September 17, 2009

There is one aspect of our prayers on Rosh Hashanah that is as unexpected as it is profound. The first of Tishrei is, as we say in our prayers, the anniversary of creation. Hayom harat olam: “Today, the universe was born”. Logically, therefore, the reading of the Torah should be the first chapter of Bereishit: “In the beginning, God created.” The haftarah might be Isaiah 45 with its declaration: “It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it.”

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At our AGM, we're making big decisions about biscuits

By NWJew, September 17, 2009

I’m not going to pretend that our synagogue annual general meetings are the friendly, supportive events that the rabbi hopes for, in vain, each year. However, he ought at least to be relieved that only a tiny fraction of the membership bother to turn up for this ancient and honoured ritual, often referred to as “bashing the lay leadership and taking a barely concealed sideswipe at the spiritual leader while you’re at it”.

I suspect that my shul is similar to yours and that the following portraits of AGM stalwarts will be familiar.

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