Comment

Being ‘foreign’ in today’s Britain

By Amanda Craig, March 26, 2009

Unlike writer Rhoda Koenig’s friend, as described in her New Statesman article earlier this month, I have never been told at a dinner party that, “if you’re Jewish you can’t be British”. But I am all too aware of what it is like to feel foreign in today’s Britain. Having my father’s Scottish surname, and the Scottish red hair to boot, gives me the experience of being both insider and outsider — which is somehow crucial to the development of a great many writers in this country.

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Our charities are doing well. Give them a break

By Barry Frankfurt, March 19, 2009

It seemed all too familiar. A UK charity had promised a significant sum and then failed to deliver. The charity argued that the intended recipients had not given it the undertakings required. The would-be beneficiaries said they had been promised the cash and were in desperate need.

Sound familiar? No, it’s not JNF-UK, whose tribulations the JC has extensively reported, but Sentebale, the charity set up by Princes William and Harry, which had promised £30,000 to a children’s home in Lesotho.

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Young need hope, not judgment

By Tracy-Ann Oberman, March 19, 2009

Worryingly, I have recently found myself spiritually in tune with Daily Mail readers. I tut at the sight of young people on the streets. I sigh at the hopelessness of hoodies and their anti-social behaviour. I despair at 14-year-old fathers and even younger “baby mothers”. Oy, what sort of society is this when children have no respect for adults? This week I left my judgmental comfort zone and went to Pelton, County Durham, where my prejudices were severely challenged.

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Let’s treat all bigots equally

By Douglas Murray, March 19, 2009

The Home Office decision to bar Hizbollah spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi from the UK is a victory for common sense. It is more than a month since a colleague of mine at the Centre for Social Cohesion noticed that Moussawi was due to come to London to address a seminar on political Islam at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

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How to make a drama out of an Israeli crisis

By John Nathan, March 19, 2009

Last week, Britain’s most influential political playwright, Sir David Hare, presented Wall — his one-man, 40-minute foray into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — at London’s Royal Court Theatre. He has been here — and there — before. It was at the Royal Court, in 1998, that Hare performed Via Dolorosa, his earlier monologue about the conflict.

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So what were the gains in Gaza?

By Geoffrey Paul, March 19, 2009

Even before I type this first sentence, I see the heads shaking in disapprobation, the eyebrows raised as they only can be in response to criticism of Israel within this traditionally supportive community — where, if Israel can make any mistakes, it is wise not to say so lest you upset your family.

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Time to invoke Shylock in defence of Israel

By Eric Lee, March 12, 2009

I call it “my Shylock moment” and it’s happening more and more. I’ve had the opportunity three times in the last few weeks to represent the Israeli point of view in public debates. As you can imagine, it’s not an easy task. The audiences — two British universities and at a TV studio in London — are overwhelmingly hostile.

The questions repeat themselves, as do my answers. And every time, there’s one person whose question is a little bit different; this is what triggers the Shylock moment.

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Is kibbutz the answer to angst?

By Simon Round, March 12, 2009

I was really pleased to read this week that at last someone is doing something to help our teenagers. A headmaster in Tyneside has suggested that rather than make teens get up early, they should be allowed to start their education at 11 am, which would have a “profound impact” on learning.

This proves what I have long suspected — that teenagers are in most respects very different to real people. Apparently teenagers are programmed to wake late and their performance peaks later in the day.

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Israel’s dangerous attitude to human rights

By Hagai El-Ad, March 12, 2009

Israeli and world media have reported widely on the undemocratic values of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party. The mainly critical coverage has focused almost exclusively on Lieberman himself, his ethos, and his slogan: “No loyalty, no citizenship”.

Yet nearly 400,000 people voted for his ideas. Israel’s electoral system reveals societal trends in a lucid way, and the recent elections have exposed the nation’s darker undercurrents.

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This Pope can bring us together

By Catherine Pepinster, March 12, 2009

When Pope Benedict XVI goes to Israel in May, his visit to Yad Vashem will no doubt be forensically examined — by Catholics, by the world’s media, and by Jews in particular. What Benedict says, his gestures, his demeanour, will all have significance.

Not that he is the first Pope to make the trip — John Paul II made it before him — but given recent events, most notably the return to the Catholic fold of the Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson and the controversies over the possible beatification of the Second World War Pope, Pius XII, the visit will be crucial.

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