Geoffrey Paul

Beyond Babel

By Geoffrey Paul, August 26, 2010

It has taken 62 years but, at last, 200 Israeli schools from Haifa northwards, including 42 which are religious, are to start teaching the country’s second official language, Arabic, to students in grades seven to ten. And the promise is that the programme for teaching Arabic will soon be adopted by schools across Israel. “Too little and too late,” one prominent Israeli Arab academic commented to me. It is he who has also pointed out that a remarkable percentage of Hebrew speakers today are Israeli Arabs or Arabs under Israeli governance.


Not the White House lawn again!

By Geoffrey Paul, August 24, 2010

I am not happy to be resuming blogging in a pessimistic mood (after time off with a broken arm). But I just cannot work up any enthusiasm for the pending direct talks about Israel-Arab peace which the US is promoting. Whether you read the stars or the tea leaves, none of the signs are in the right place. Unless the apathy which has seized most of Israel also extends to the settlers. Mr Netanyahu’s room for manoeuvre is small indeed.


Our man in Amman

By Geoffrey Paul, April 13, 2010

One must suppose that Britain's envoys abroad speak in the name of their Government. It is enlightening, therefore, to read this blog by HM Ambassador to Jordan:

and, if you are not quite sure you really understood what he was saying, read the comments on his blog which follow....His local readers had no doubts.


Parting shots

By Geoffrey Paul, April 11, 2010

It was impossible, of course, for the Mother of Parliaments to go into pre-election recess without finding the opportunity for some parting salvoes fired in the direction of Israel. The Noble Lords set aside time for what they desctibe as "a short debate" sparked by a question from Lord Dykes of Harrow Weald (once Hugh Dykes MP who flip-flopped from the Tories to the Lib Dems and whose expenses claims - according to the SundayTimes - are based on the fact that his main home is in, wait for it, Normandy).


If Not Now, When?

By Geoffrey Paul, March 24, 2010

For about 18 months, a group of mainly Harvard professors from various academic disciplines have been meeting weekly for two hours to discuss the Israel-Palestinian conflict and ways out of it.  They call themselves the Boston Study Group on Middle East Peace.  They set their sights on a publication stressing the role of U.S. foreign policy, and basically arguing toward more proactive, persistent and resolute engagement on the part of the U.S. toward a two-state solution.


Some of his best friends

By Geoffrey Paul, March 17, 2010

Aren't we fast tipping over the edge from hysteria into psychopathology when the brother-in-law of the Israeli Prime Minister labels the President of the United States an anti-semite? Hagai Ben-Artzi told Israel Army Radio: "Think about it. If you had heard of someone who for 20 years sat in church and heard anti-Semitic sermons and didn't get up to leave after two weeks, wouldn't you think he identifies with it? As a politician running for presidency he had to hide it, but it comes out every time and I think we just have to say it plainly: 'There is an anti-Semitic president in America'."


The Fifth Question

By Geoffrey Paul, March 16, 2010

Do you want something to think about over Passover? How about this - there are 400,000 Jewish students on campus in the USA at any one time.

The chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, who is more aware of what is going around the US Jewish community than any one else, reports: "Young people don't feel an innate connection with Israel anymore."

Fifth question for Passover: What is the implication of this?


Kaddish at night

By Geoffrey Paul, March 11, 2010

Being insomniac has its rewards. Some time in those long hours before the dawn, at which point you are liable annoyingly to fall asleep, the BBC World Service (which carries on when Radio4 closes down at 1 a.m.) had a fascinating programme, commentated by Rabbi Naftali Brawer, on the probable origins, efficacy and place of the kaddish in Jewish life. It was without doubt one of the best things on Judaism the BBC has done in recent years.


Karpe Diem (or very fishy)

By Geoffrey Paul, March 9, 2010

If the Jewish world collapses suddenly, it will be the result of no Iranian missile, Islamisr terrorist attack or fascist onslaught. It will be because victory has gone to the aptly and wonderfully named Rabbi Karp in his efforts to have salmon declared treif (not kosher). Can you imagine, salmon, or lox, that mainstay of every Jewish social gathering, from an engagement to a circumcision, the highlight of synagogue breakfasts, the major ingredient of picnic lunches on the beaches of all five continents, the quick consolation, with hard-boiled eggs, for mourners - salmon not kosher?


How odd!

By Geoffrey Paul, February 19, 2010

The Times yesterday had a picture of penguins waddling through Hadassah Bay, near Stanley, in the Falkland Islands.

The BBC this morning reported that the winner of the women's snowboarding competition at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver was a blonde, blue-eyed Australian named Torah Bright.

What's going on here. I think we should be told....


No dialogue today, thank you

By Geoffrey Paul, February 10, 2010

Pope Benedict's forthcoming visit to the UK is bound to stimulate discussion about Christian-Jewish relations in the UK. The fact of the matter, here as almost everywhere else in the world. is that contacts on the Jewish side with Christian partners in dialogue are almost entirely handled by Reform and Liberal rabbis and lay leaders.


Have faith in education

By Geoffrey Paul, February 2, 2010

It's not just members of the US rabbinate who have engaged in public spats about faith education. Another aspect of the topic features in The Times' correspondence columns today where Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, the minister of Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, takes a swipe at Rabbi Jonathan Romain, the ubiquitous rabbi of Maidenhead Reform Synagogue.


How is it for you?

By Geoffrey Paul, January 21, 2010

Do you feel under "constant attack"?


How do you plead?

By Geoffrey Paul, January 19, 2010

Three IDF rescue teams and an IDF field hospital have been working around the clock seeking for survivors and digging out the dead from the rubble of Port du Prince. International observers have praised their tireless efforts. Perhaps, suggests my friend Martin Green, someone in the UK would like to seek warrants for their arrest as war criminals....


The Man Who Was

By Geoffrey Paul, January 15, 2010

Have you been reading Ben Macintyre in The Times re-telling, with fascinating new detail, the amazing wartime story of the successful British bluff which duped the Nazis into thinking the Allies were going to invade Greece and the Western Mediterranean rather than Sicily ?


Philistines? What, Us?

By Geoffrey Paul, January 13, 2010

Does something still linger in our genes of the biblical prohibition against making graven images? I must confess to being confused by - on the one hand - portraits of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, which are ubiquitous in the homes and meeting places of his followers, and those frequent, alien, media shots (Brooklyn, Mea Shearim, New Square) of chasidim, hands to faces, trying to avoid the image-making ability of the camera lens. And all the wedding pics, and barmitzvahs, etc etc and mug shots of rabbis which accompany their contributions to this and other newspapers. What gives?


Cost of (Jewish) living

By Geoffrey Paul, January 11, 2010

My old friend and colleague Gary Rosenblatt, who is editor and publisher of undoubtedly the best Jewish newspaper in the US, the New York Jewish Week, has struck a number of chords with his recall that a 60-year old report into Jewish defence agencies - like the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee - recommended a number of mergers for reasons of communal sense and communal economy. As Gary notes, nothing came of the extensive study, and it has remained a footnote of 20th-century American Jewish life.


Laugh darn you laugh!

By Geoffrey Paul, January 9, 2010

It is so bleak and miserable out there so let me share a good smile sent to me by my much-revered and endearing rabbi:
Did you hear about the dyslexic invited to a toga party who went dressed as a goat.....


The Jewish Advocate

By Geoffrey Paul, January 6, 2010

If you have been following The Times' correspondence this week on Pope Pius XII and the Jews, you will have seen references to Pinchas Lapide, who is cited without exception in every Catholic defence of Pius's wartime attitude towards the Jews and their Nazi persecutors. Lapide is the sole source for claims that Pius saved at least 700,000 Jews from the Nazis, a claim for which there has never been any proof and which is even an embarrassment to some of those Catholics who claimed Pius was a defender of the Jews.


No angels here

By Geoffrey Paul, January 5, 2010

The end of December is not the time for a Jew to go in search of church architecture (some would day it is never the time), but, having heard much of Sherbourne Abbey's fan vaulted roof - a really splendid creation of man - and being nearby, I dropped in to have a look. But, in the end, it was not the vaulting which engaged me, but something much closer to the ground: a nativity sccene such as can be seen in many venues at this time of the year. But this one was different. Down the centre was a stark, wooden divider. But let the accompanying church notice explain: