It’s hard to be a Jew, especially in a recession

By Simon Rocker, January 8, 2009

The harsh winds of recession have started to make an impact on the Jewish community. Donors have cut back pledges, synagogue bodies are laying off staff and one institution has already gone to the wall. MST College, in North-West London, which specialised in teacher training for strictly Orthodox schools, closed at the end of last month.

MST may not be the only casualty. Despite the falling Jewish population, the number of Jewish charities has been increasing at more than five per cent annually in the UK in recent years.


Don’t turn away — Jesus was ours

By Howard Jacobson, January 8, 2009

So Ahmadinejad — in his Christmas Day address to the British public — thinks Jesus would have been on his side. I have news for him. Jesus would no more have been on his side than the Holocaust never happened. Jesus was a patriotic Jew — not quite the freedom fighter Jews living under Roman occupation were hoping for but a prophet of the Jewish people, a devout believer in the Jewish God and stringent preacher of His law, a fierce ethical polemicist, a lover of peace but in so angry and ironic a spirit that it sometimes feels the opposite of peace.


Mason, Rotarian, Jew… Hamas wants you dead

By Denis MacShane, January 8, 2009

For all the coverage given by the media to events in Gaza, one crucial element has, mostly, been ignored: the Hamas Chater, adopted in 1988. To start at the beginning: it is one of the most antisemitic, Jew-hating political statements ever published.

It states: “Our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by …the Arab and Islamic world.”


So Israel isn’t trendy this year

By Tracy-Ann Oberman, January 8, 2009

I mark the passing of the years by the reaction of secular folk to news of my holidaying in Israel. In the mid-1970s, school friends would be wide eyed at the exotic holidays taken by my family. In those days, travelling further than Spain was unheard of in my neck of the woods, so to fly to a tiny country in  the Middle East was the equivalent of back-packing in the Himalayas today.

In the ’80s, when I said I was going to Israel, university acquaintances eyed me accusingly as if I was a war criminal for even contemplating such a holiday destination. Tut tut.


Saudi peace plan: still the only show in town

By Daniella Peled, December 30, 2008

It is the peace plan that refused to die. While the Annapolis process has been and gone, the Road Map is a distant memory, and Gaza is on fire, somehow the Arab League Initiative remains the perennial best-seller of the jaded peace industry.

First proposed by the Saudis in 2002, it presents an apparently simple deal: Israel gets peace with 22 Arab states in return for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.


Not all is égal in the land of égalité

By Natasha Lehrer, December 30, 2008

Last Monday, after a Chanucah party held in the American Church in Paris by our delightful ecumenical synagogue Kehilat Gesher, my seven-year-old son won a plastic magen David. He put it in his pocket and promptly forgot about it. At school the next day, he rediscovered the magen David during playtime and showed it to his best friend, who told the teacher that my son had a religious symbol in his pocket. My son was duly reprimanded for his misdemeanour and the magen David (made in China) was confiscated.


Wanted: lessons in discipline

By Simon Round, December 30, 2008

A lot of people seemed surprised this week at a report claiming that male teachers had more problems with rowdy schoolchildren than their female counterparts.

Take it from someone who once went to school: this is no surprise.

Ok, so maybe JFS in the mid-70s wasn’t a genuine inner-city sink comprehensive, but there were still more than a couple of pupils who would today be described as “challenging” and were in those days labelled “psychos”.


Bowen, BBC and bias: a case of selective myopia

By Stephen Pollard, December 30, 2008

This week’s JC is full of analysis of the background to the Gaza military operation. But I have to confess that there is one explanation for Israel’s air strikes we have not offered to our readers. It is that put forward by the BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, on Saturday: “The failure of Israel, with its high-tech army, to stop relatively crude rocket fire has become a political embarrassment for Israeli leaders.”


Settlers’ cause is a welcome victim of violence

By Josh Freedman Berthoud, December 23, 2008

The events surrounding the eviction of Hebron’s “House of Contention” last month marked a new low in Israeli settler violence. Angry mobs ran riot throughout the city, enacting a “price-tag” policy of retribution on local Palestinians. Three men were shot at close range, cars and olive groves set alight and, in one reported incident, a group of settlers torched a home in which a large family cowered, as private security guards looked on. Of course, such nationalistic attacks would not be complete without the destruction of the enemies’ most sacred sites.


Babylon means more than exile

By Jeremy Isaacs, December 23, 2008

Few major displays open in London whose subject intersects with Jewish history. Babylon, the archaeological-historical tour de force at the British Museum, is such a show.

The exhibition does several things, and all well. Using archaeological findings, corroborating eye-witness testimony, it tells the story of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. The main interest of this from the Jewish point of view is the capture of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the Temple in 587 BCE precisely, followed by the Israelites’ Babylonian Exile.