Geoffrey Paul

Lord Jakobovits's legacy of dignity

By Geoffrey Paul, November 5, 2009

Ten years after his death, his community is harvesting some of the fruits Immanuel Jakobovits planted in often rocky and indifferent earth during the 24 years of his Chief Rabbinate. His vision of a community committed in all its parts to living a full Jewish life, not just in practice but in spirit, may never be realised. But there is today an unparalleled search at every level for Jewish education.

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Wrong end of the hose

By Geoffrey Paul, September 17, 2009

While the UK Fire Brigades Union, long-time experts in matters of foreign policy, as we must all be aware, were busy whipping up their comrades to support a boycott of Israeli goods, the Egyptian Petroleum Ministry was planning to increase Egypt's gas exports to Israel to 120 trillion British thermal units in the coming year, a major increase in supply over the current year. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Egyptian gas is used by Israel in its manufacturing industry. So is the Fire Brigades Union, and its foreign policy savvy TUC allies, now going to extend its boycott to Egypt?

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What was that you said?

By Geoffrey Paul, August 24, 2009

Academia does not necessarily (some would say, at all) breed commonsense. But even Bar Ilan's Ephraim Inbar should have known better, on the eve of his Prime Minister's visit to the UK, than to tell the Today programme in essence that Britain was no longer a power that really mattered in the Middle East and was just carried along in the American slipstream. Professor Inbar was introduced as an advisor to Mr Netanyahu. I hope he has not advised him what to say when he meets Gordon Brown this week.

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Sheryl and Bernie: An American Tale

By Geoffrey Paul, August 21, 2009

New York's Jewish establishment is panting in anticipation of publication next week of a tell-all memoir of her 20-year affair with fraudster Bernie Madoff by former top Jewish civil servant Sheryl Weinstein. One astonishing fact which emerged pre-publication from inside the covers is that, during her association with Madoff, the unsuspecting Weinstein was chief financial officer of Hadassah, the American arm of the Women's International Zionist organisation, Wizo. As such, she was party to investment decisions by the Wizo board which poured many millions into Madoff's schemes.

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Don't look now...

By Geoffrey Paul, August 4, 2009

New neighbours are moving in. Their goods and chattels have arrived aboard a huge pantechnicon. It has travelled all the way from the Czech Republic. The name of the moving company, written in large letters, is GOLEM. The company can be reached at a website in the Czech Republic which begins “www.Golem...” Should we be worried?

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How clever?

By Geoffrey Paul, August 3, 2009

I have read and tried to work my way through the history and legal argument about the properties in East Jerusalem from which, this week, Arab families have been forcibly evicted and into which Jewish settlers have been allowed to move. I must confess that I still do not know who was right. What I do know is that, in terms of public relations, Israel has shot herself in the leg again by sending in the police to enforce its rights.

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Jewish cossacks

By Geoffrey Paul, July 21, 2009

Time and again in accounts of Cossack raids on their Jewish or Polish neighbours, we read of men on horseback, wielding fiery touches, setting fire to fields and crops and terrifying the local populace. I recalled these accounts with a prickle of horror when I read today's Israeli press reports of between 1,500 and 2,000 Arab olive trees being set on fire by horseback riding settlers from the ever-troublesome West Bank Jewish settlement of Yitzhar. It is from this place, you may recall, that Israel paratroopers were withdrawn a few years ago after clashes with settlers.

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Auschwitz 'corrective'

By Geoffrey Paul, July 15, 2009

It is not very often you read a “corrective” about the Holocaust that makes you sit up and say, Yes, that's right. I hadn't seen it that way. But I have just had such an experience with the July 16 issue of the New York Review of Books. There, Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale and specialist in Eastern Europe, claims that by 1943 and 1944, when most of the killing of West European Jews took place, “the Holocaust was in considerable measure complete . Two thirds of the Jews who would be killed during the war were already dead by the end of 1942.

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Luck of the Irish

By Geoffrey Paul, July 9, 2009

Perhaps the felon who fought extradition to Ireland because he did not like onions in his food will make do with the multiplicity of cans of Hebrew National soups which have had to be withdrawn because they have unannounced celery, mustard or soya in their content. I myself had a notion of what criminality must feel like when, having trawled through Tesco's fruit and vegetable bargains this morning, I espied a private treat (my wife is a working gal), a tin of Hebrew National barley soup and put it in my trolley for a private, unannounced lunch.

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Don't switch off yet

By Geoffrey Paul, June 19, 2009

Of course, it had to happen one day. A reform synagogue in Virginia podcasts all its religious services and, reports the rabbi of Temple B'nai Shalom in Fairfax Station, “It's been fantastic for our members, especially the elderly, people with chronic illness and those serving in the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and foreign service assignments.” Why, people even “take services on their vacations and on business trips...our teens listen to the podcasts even when they are not away.” I cannot imagine this will ever catch on with the United Synagogue.

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After Tehran, Cairo - but different

By Geoffrey Paul, June 14, 2009

Egypt is not exactly a bastion of democracy in the Middle East. Although President Mubarak, now in his fifth term, authorised a multi-party system of presidential elections in 2005, matters were so rigged that almost nobody else had a chance of winning. He would probably win once more if he stood again when his term ends in 2011. But he will then be 83.

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Madness

By Geoffrey Paul, June 8, 2009

In the week that marked the anniversary of the D-Day landings and a war in which the UK lost nearly half a million soldiers and civilians in the struggle to defeat Nazism, UK electors send two members of the British National Party to join their representatives in the European Parliament. Is there a national streak of insanity?

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Also look the other way...

By Geoffrey Paul, June 7, 2009

Some friends of Israel, and many Israelis themselves, have been so forensic in picking through references to Israel in President Obama's Cairo speech that, to quote him from a press conference statement in Paris on Saturday, while “I've discussed the importance of a cessation of settlement construction...

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The last word

By Geoffrey Paul, March 25, 2009

I thought I had heard everything until someone sent me a tape of part of a speech by Nadia Matar, co-founder of “The Women in Green.“ These Jewish settler ladies, as you will know, are committed to fighting by every means for the incorporation of the West Bank – Judea and Samaria – within the State of Israel and the disenfranchisement of any Arab crazy enough to stay there.

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Lord Help Us....

By Geoffrey Paul, March 23, 2009

Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Centre, is a Tel-Aviv based lawyers' organisation that utilises legal proceedings and lawsuits around the world to fight international terrorism, its leaders and their financial patrons on behalf of terror victims. It declares itself fully independent and not affiliated with any political party or organisations. I have no reason to doubt it does good work and it is probably a sustainable argument that, in the murky world where it operates, good taste is not a criterion.

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Something to look forward to....

By Geoffrey Paul, March 19, 2009

Here's something with which to cheer your children: Jewish, Muslim, and Christian fundamentalists will gain significant ground against their liberal and secular counterparts by 2050, even surpassing them in some cases. This is the view of Eric Kaufmann, a fellow of the Belfer Centre which is part of the J F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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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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America's Muslims

By Geoffrey Paul, March 8, 2009

Gallup has completed the first ever nationally representative in-depth analysis of how American Muslims see themselves and their status in the US. What Gallup has not been able to do is establish just how many Muslims there are in the States. Estimates vary widely from 1.2 million to as many as 8 million. What Gallup did discover is that 35 per cent of the Muslim population is Afro-American, 28 per cent describe themselves as “white” and 18 per cent say they are of Asian origin.

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Mourning marathon

By Geoffrey Paul, February 26, 2009

We need a new short prayer for funerals. The two I have been to most recently, although they took place in the open, involved neither burial nor, plainly, cremation. In fact, rather than calling them funerals it would be more appropriate to term them farewells to the departed. They were conducted at the back of an open hearse kitted out with a sophisticated public address system over which tributes to the departed were directed at the closed box within and to family, friends and surprised passers-by in the street.

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