Israel must now introduce real civil marriage

By Nathan Jeffay, March 25, 2010

The spin has been dizzying. "Today, the Knesset took a historic step forward," claimed coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin of Likud. MK David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, insisted that the Knesset had "succeeded in cracking the wall that existed for 62 years."

Rotem it was who introduced the measure provoking such excitement - a law, now approved by the Knesset, allowing civil marriage for some Israelis.

But this was not history in the making; no walls were being cracked. This was cynical Israeli politics at its worst.


A bad law against Holocaust denial

By Adam Lebor, March 25, 2010

Bismarck once said that no-one with an interest in laws or sausages should watch either being made. Hungary's new law banning Holocaust denial proves the Iron Chancellor right. The country's Socialist-led government has tried for years to get the legislation on to the statute books. This month it finally succeeded.


Hanger hassle gets my back up

By Peter Rosengard, March 18, 2010

Last Tuesday morning, I felt an ache in my lower back. As I've never had back pain in my life, naturally I feared the worst.

"Could it be cancer of the bottom?"  I asked my doctor on the phone.

"Have you done anything unusually strenuous?" he asked.

"Yes, come to think of it doctor, I did do something strenuous. I got out of bed today and brushed my teeth. Are you kidding?"

He booked me an urgent appointment with a Harley Street physio.

An hour later, Georgina, a brisk middle-aged woman, greeted me at her consulting-room door.


The holy land's unholy democracy

By Lawrence Joffe, March 18, 2010

Israelis have always proudly dubbed their country, "the only democracy in the Middle East". Despite wars, crises and the challenge of absorbing millions of immigrants, all citizens can vote, regardless of origin, and debate is vigorous, not least in the press. Nor has Israel ever suffered a military coup.


Danny boys - a firm Irish and Jewish kinship

By Rory Fitzgerald, March 18, 2010

The Irish writer Brendan Behan once remarked: "Others have a nationality. The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis." That may be a little harsh, but he was on to something.

These two ancient peoples were destined to wander the world as outsiders, knowing suspicion and derision wherever they went. Through it all, both maintained tight and close bonds with their own kin, even in the farthest corners of the earth.


Back those who stand up for us

By Stephen Pollard, March 18, 2010

In the year and a half I have had the honour of editing the JC, I have been able to meet all sorts of fascinating and admirable people (not, of course, that fascinating always goes hand in hand with admirable). And in my trips to speak at various synagogues and organisations I have realised that pretty much everyone has an idea for improving the paper (such as getting a new editor); and many think that if only the Jewish community would behave as they want it to, all our problems would be over.


President Peres is turning against Bibi

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 11, 2010

Two or three times a day, Shimon Peres stands in the President's mansion, receiving groups of blushing beauty queens, farmers and international parliamentarians. Each group gets its share of smiles, joint photographs and the standard joke, always some reference to the great man's age.

In the absence of a royal family, only the 86-year-old mega-statesman can lend grandeur to the informality of Israeli official events.

But no one ever expected him to be just a figurehead. The man eternally branded by Yitzhak Rabin as "a tireless schemer" could not stop playing politics even if he tried.


The smart way to make cutbacks

By Simon Round, March 11, 2010

Both politicians and economists are currently wrestling with the problem of how to reduce Britain's enormous overdraft.

We have been getting nasty letters from global bank managers threatening to downgrade our credit rating and maybe even to repossess the Isle of Wight or Guernsey.

Labour reckons the best way to reduce the deficit is to carry on spending money that we don't have (which is also my instinct in times of crisis). The Conservatives boringly say we should make cuts and be prudent.


A Jewish lesson for Jon Venables

By Keren David, March 11, 2010

In all the thousands of words written and broadcast this week on the case of Jon Venables, one family has been conspicuously silent. I very much hope that the parents and sister of Sharona Joseph will not object to me writing about their loss, 22 years after her murder at the hands of an older child. I do so because I believe their wisdom and experience has much to offer the current rancourous debate.


Jews with the blues might benefit from booze

By Gerald Curzon, March 11, 2010

Melancholy, depression, misery - Jews have long been thought to be prone to the blues. An old story tells of a Jew who sighs: "We are born weeping. Tsores follows tsores. Body and mind fail. In the end, we die. Better not to have been born", to which his friend adds: "But who can be so lucky? One person in ten thousand…"