Heads in the sand can't work

By Norman Lebrecht, January 20, 2011

Last Saturday, the Guardian devoted a two-page spread to Linda Grant and her new novel, We Had It So Good, which is drawing the kind of praise most writers don't see before their obits. Grant has been involved with the paper for much of her adult life and the article was generally affectionate - until the interviewer hit upon her late-onset love for Israel, at which point the narrative went into an extraordinary contortion to explain that she was still a good person, really.


Bless you, thank you, goodbye

By Peter Rosengard, January 17, 2011

Last Tuesday morning I went to get a tube of toothpaste from my chemist, off Bond Street. A handwritten sign in the wood-framed olde worlde shop window read: 'We wish to thank all our loyal customers…' They'd closed down. Unbelievable! They'd been there forever. I was last there on Christmas Eve.

"Yoshi," I'd said to the man behind the counter. "Which is the Colgate toothpaste? The one without the red or the blue stripe in the middle - the pure white one?"

"I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know? You've been selling toothpaste since you were a teenager."


Perils of in-flight hechshers

By Michael Freedland, January 17, 2011

These days, when air fares are going up with every yard that a plane rises into the deep blue yonder, there is one boast that the airlines still love to make: "If you have a dietary requirement, we'll meet it. Vegetarian? We'll get it. Gluten? Of course. Halal? Salaam, if not salami. Kosher? Absolutely."

That is, they'll absolutely put it down in their records. But actually getting a piece of kosher meat on a tray is a matter frequently laden with difficulty.


Deputies' bloody Sunday?

By Simon Rocker, January 17, 2011

It is two months since UJIA chairman Mick Davis took the community by surprise with the vehemence of his critique of the Israeli government. He said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lacked the courage to advance the peace process, described some Knesset bills as offensive and warned that Israel faced becoming an apartheid state if there were no two-state solution.


Acts like this destroy democracy

By David Newman, January 13, 2011

The delegitimisation of Israel reached a new peak last week with continued attacks on its democracy. But this time the damage was not done by private groups or foreign governments and anti-Israel lobbies. This time the worsening of its reputation as a state which values democracy and freedom of speech was caused directly by members of the Knesset.

No, not by Arab MKs critical of the occupation, but by extreme right-wing MKs, self-proclaimed super-patriots who falsely portray themselves as its defenders.


Time to hold these groups to account

By Gerald Steinberg, January 13, 2011

Politicised NGOs funded by European governments have powerful impacts on Israeli domestic politics and on the conflict. For many years, their influence was protected from debate but, last week, the Knesset voted to establish a committee to examine this controversial issue.

A credible and non-partisan evaluation of foreign government funding for political NGOs is long overdue. Whether the Knesset framework will meet these criteria remains to be seen.


Why I'll be backing the Year of the Bagel

By Chris Huhne, January 13, 2011

The festival of Tu B'Shvat is a celebration of continuity.

Commitment to the future is one of the Jewish community's many strengths. For this reason I am delighted to have the opportunity to show my support for the Year of the Bagel, part of the Big Green Jewish Campaign, launching on Tu B'Shvat.


Dangers of ignoring the contrasts in Euro hatreds

By Benjamin Weinthal, January 13, 2011

It is now a commonplace in Europe to regard antisemitism and the more recent phenomenon, "Islamophobia", as much of a muchness. Yet there are important historical distinctions between the hatred of Jews and anti-Muslim prejudice. While European Muslims are without question subject to discrimination and violence, no reasonable observer could claim that they face the prospect of a Final Solution-style extermination plan.


Why Murdoch's BSkyB bid really is worrying

By Deborah Lipstadt, January 7, 2011

I know many Jews who, in European terminology, would be classified as "centre left." They believe that the domestic and foreign policies of the Republican Party bode poorly for America. They abhor Sarah Palin and fear the Tea Party and what they consider to be its rather simplistic world view. Irrespective of where they live, their daily paper is The New York Times.


The BBC's fantasy extremists

By Stephen Pollard, January 6, 2011

Imagine for a moment that you're a BBC reporter. You're on the Sunday programme, the Radio 4 early morning religious affairs show. In September, it'll be a decade since the events of 9/11. You've been asked to look at the impact on the relationship between Islam and the West.

So what do you focus on? The alliance between the hard left and Islamists? Maybe. The rise of radical Islam on campus? Perhaps. The failure of some in the West fully to grasp the threat? Possibly.