Patten's record a real concern

By Alex Brummer, February 25, 2011

One of the Tory great and good, Lord Patten of Barnes, is about to be handed the chairmanship of the BBC Trust. The chance of presiding over the BBC and its £3.2 billion budget is clearly one he could not resist.


Trains that run on crime

By Alex Brummer, November 19, 2010

There are few more potent images of the Shoah than The Cattle Truck, immortalised in Jorge Semprun's 1960s novel. Yet, only now, seven decades after the transports of Jews from every corner of Europe to the death camps, are the railway authorities being forced to come to terms with their Nazi past.

The French state railway, SNCF, has for the first time publicly expressed its regret for conveying Jews to Nazi death camps in the Second World War. Previously, SNCF had claimed that it had been "forced" into the deportations by Nazi occupiers.


Israel's unreported war

By Alex Brummer, October 7, 2010

One of the great features of a civilised state is the willingness to accept that mistakes can be made and investigate them.

At times, the Israeli authorities may have to be dragged kicking and screaming into probes - as in the celebrated case of the shooting of student photographer Tom Hurndall in 2006. But, like all democracies, Israel is sensitive to political and diplomatic pressure.


Fast? I can't even diet properly

By Venetia Thompson, September 21, 2010

With every year that passes, just as I am starting to feel a bit more Jew-ish than the year before, I run slap bang into Yom Kippur and realise that perhaps I'm not ready to embrace my Jewish roots after all. This year was no exception. It's the fasting. I love the idea in theory, but I simply can't do it. So this is my confession: I'm Venetia Thompson, and I can't manage 25 hours without (in order of importance) coffee, wine, mascara, or my patent leather Manolo Blahnik stilettos. Not to mention butter.


Tea Party may help Israel

By Alex Brummer, September 21, 2010

The arrival of the Tea Party as an American force has shaken the US political establishment. It is a sea change, compared by commentators such as Gerald Seib in the Wall Street Journal as similar to the arrival of the conservative movement headed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.


EU corridors of prejudice

By Alex Brummer, September 7, 2010

Of all the institutions in Germany, the Bundesbank, the nation's central bank, is the one which likes to think itself above politics. It may be less powerful than before the creation of the euro, but its influence on the European Central Bank and economic policy is considerable. The last thing the Bundesbank needed was a renegade member - in the shape of Thilo Sarrazin, 65, a former top finance official in the Berlin city government - spouting off.


The dangers of a Wikimedia

By Alex Brummer, August 26, 2010

Wikipedia is one of those websites which quietly has changed the way that people interact with the internet. For journalists, academics and ordinary consumers, it is often the first port of call for research. It is an organic encyclopaedia which for many providesan early draft of history.

It also defines events. It was academics debating on Wikipedia who decided that the 2006 conflagration between Israel and Hizbollah should be officially known as the 2006 Lebanon War.


Up in arms over Saudi deal

By Alex Brummer, August 12, 2010

The disclosure by the Israel-friendly Wall Street Journal that the Obama Administration is preparing to sell advanced Boeing F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia should not come as a major surprise. In recent months there have been unconfirmed reports in the American and Israeli media that a deal of this kind was in the offing. Nevertheless, it will lead to anxiety in Washington, Jerusalem and beyond.


When the blogs don't work

By Alex Brummer, July 15, 2010

It used to be that journalists told it as it was and did their best not to be emotionally involved in stories. The late Richard Dimbleby famously reported on the horrors of a liberated Auschwitz using stark language but without shedding a tear.

But when Yasir Arafat died in November 2004, BBC correspondent Barbara Plett was lachrymose on From Our Own Correspondent. It may be no accident that not long afterwards she was given a different beat.


Flotilla: media's big omission

By Alex Brummer, July 1, 2010

Amid the mountain of hostile media coverage following the raid on the Gaza flotilla last month, little was made of the personal accounts of the IDF forces involved. Yet what is absolutely clear from this testimony - which is available on major websites, including the BBC - is that what the soldiers most feared was the permanent capture of one of their colleagues.

The detention of 23-year-old Gilad Shalit - who is now at the start of his fifth year of Hamas captivity - on June 25, 2006 provides a stark reminder of the extenuating circumstances surrounding the botched Israeli boarding.