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.


Time to articulate our hurt in the war on hate

By Dr Winston Pickett, December 23, 2008

As Jews, we tend to be a surprisingly timid lot when it comes to expressing outrage — at least publicly. We shy away from what Americans call “playing the grievance card” — or what the British tellingly refer to as “special pleading”, with all that phrase’s overtones of deference and supplication.


Be more Jewish, do Christmas

By Simon Round, December 23, 2008

A lot of Jews do Christmas. A great percentage of them feel slightly guilty about it — and a small proportion of the ones who don’t observe the festival feel that they are missing out on something, particularly when they see the M&S ads and watch Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen.

However, practically all of us mark New Year’s Eve in some way — either by sharing a drink with friends, going out for a meal or drinking 10 pints of a vodka-based punch and sleeping under somebody’s car in a street in Hainault (although to be fair, 1992 was not a typical year).


‘Imagine This’ failed because it wasn’t great art

By John Nathan, December 18, 2008

Tomorrow night, a skillfully staged, well-performed musical with a good, original score and which has reportedly received nightly standing ovations since it opened one month ago will close. Why? The assumption is because too many people thought the West End stage is no place to deal with the show’s subject — the Holocaust. Last week, Eliane Glaser described how Holocaust museums increasingly attempt to attract the public to their exhibitions by taking the “risk of entertainment”.


Travel on Shabbat works for me

By Tony Bayfield, December 18, 2008

If there is one term I would love to abolish from the community’s vocabulary, it is “non Orthodox”. I hate it because it implies that people like me are against things rather than in favour of a positive, distinctive expression of Judaism called Reform.


Ukraine: why we should worry

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 18, 2008

There is a little grave in a vast cemetery on the outskirts of Kiev that stands out from its dilapidated and rundown surroundings. It is swept daily and fresh flowers are arranged in a vase. In March, hundreds of Ukrainian nationalists will make their annual pilgrimage there to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the death of 13-year-old Andrei Yushchinsky and the last major blood libel case in Europe — the Beilis Trial.


Q: does Israel prefer the JC or the Guardian?

By Stephen Pollard, December 18, 2008

Here’s your starter for ten: name the British newspaper the Israeli government feels most antagonistic towards. The Guardian? Only last week, we reported that the paper which regularly gives a platform to anti-Israel propagandists refused to publish a letter from the Israeli Embassy’s press secretary pointing out that one of its guest columnists was Hamas’s London representative.

Well, no. It’s not the Guardian.


Festival of lights is a festival-lite

By Hadley Freeman, December 18, 2008

With maturity comes the death of happy illusions — this is a truism most people older than five learn, usually after they’ve spotted a Santa Claus sneaking off to have a quiet fag in their local shopping mall. But I truly do believe, without any self-pity or self-centred grandstanding, that Jewish kids have it worse than most.