Gaza One, Miami Five: it just doesn’t add up

By Eric Lee, August 13, 2009

If you visit the website of Britain’s largest trade union, Unite, you’ll find a list of campaigns the union supports. Those campaigns are almost always the kinds of things you’d expect the giant manufacturing trade union to support, such as saving jobs at Vauxhall, building affordable housing, and protecting the NHS.

But in the middle of all these there’s one campaign that seems a bit out of place – a campaign in support of the Miami Five, who are Cuban spies jailed in the USA.


Paying a high price for homesickness

By John Krivine, August 13, 2009

More than one million Israelis have left the country — a phenomenon bearing the cryptic title “yeridah”, (meaning to go down, thus being the antithesis of aliyah, which means, literally, to go up).

The cost to the State of Israel of educating one Jewish child runs at about US$100,000. Multiply that by a million plus and you have a lot of zeros.


Music can play key peace role

By Tracy-Ann Oberman, August 13, 2009

On our first date Husband and I established that we had lots in common: we had both taken the road less travelled, routes not normally associated with nice Jewish boys and girls; we were both artistic; both had lost our dads far too young. And we were both passionate about Israel, the peace process and supporting it in any way we could.

Over the last five years we have talked often about how to initiate an arts-based project that would combine Israeli and Palestinian young people in dialogue through creativity.


Rabbi, you may bore us but stay out of politics

By Jenni Frazer, August 13, 2009

A lot is asked of our rabbis. We want them to be Moshes of all trades: orators, teachers, social workers, visitors to the sick and bereaved.

We want them to be wise and understanding, erudite and spiritually uplifting. And should they have dashed off an academic paper or a book or three, so much the better.

What we — or at least, I — very much don’t want, is a rabbi who is political.

Last week, Rabbi Natan Asmoucha — the rabbi of Britain’s oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks — ran into trouble with the executive of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation.


Forcing Bibi’s hand is just not cricket

By Tim Marshall, August 13, 2009

It has taken time, but now President Obama is going for a leg break in the first test. Success unlocks an ambitious strategy for the whole Middle East. Failure could turn it into ashes.

A conversation with a US Defense Department adviser threw up a gem: “Obama’s policy on settlements is simple. He means to break Bibi’s legs.”

The strategy is basically this: with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on crutches over settlements, you go on to win a series of compromises.


Carry on camping? I doubt it

By Miriam Shaviv, August 13, 2009

By the time you read this, I will have spent a week in a tent.

That is a sentence I never thought I would write. Given the choice between a five-star hotel and a camp site with portaloos, I would definitely plump for the hotel. But in the spirit of these austere times — when cheap is chic — this year, we are joining two other families in a muddy field somewhere in the New Forest.

The irony, of course, is that it has not turned out to be a cheap holiday at all. For the general population, camping might mean back-to-basics, but Jewish camping is a different business altogether.


Jerusalem’s district of disputes

By Geoffrey Alderman, August 13, 2009

The district of Sheikh Jarrah lies in the north-east quarter of Jerusalem. Beyond it rises the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University, reached by a highway that was, in 1948, the scene of the massacre of 78 Jews — many of them doctors and nurses — by Arab terrorists.

Today, the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood houses the headquarters of Israel’s police service, the ministry of justice, and the British consulate.


Why Alderman is wrong about the Naqba

By Sir Jeremy Beecham, August 13, 2009

For nearly 2,000 years, Jews have commemorated the catastrophe of the destruction of the Temple with a day of fasting, Tisha B’Av. It is ironic, therefore, that the very next day, this year, Geoffrey Alderman should criticise the use of the term naqba — Arabic for “catastrophe” — by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in reference to the events of 1948.


The Beth Din spoiled my wedding

By Matt Getz, August 13, 2009

I have led a thoroughly Jewish life. I went to a Jewish day school, sang my barmitzvah portion with gusto, was a member of my synagogue choir and Bible team. My forebears were all born and grew up observant Jews in the shtetlach of Latvia and Lithuania. Jewish weddings, funerals, even brisses, have been a part of my life for as long as I remember.

So when the time came for me to get married, there was no question: we were going to have a Jewish wedding — chuppah, odd Aramaic incantations, breaking glass, even Israeli relatives dancing the hora.


Our family broiges — at least we’re talking

By NWJew, August 13, 2009

A wonderful thing happened. I recently re-established contact with a part of my family generations after a disputed will split three siblings forever. One went to Israel, another to America, and the third remained in the East End of London.