Martin Bright

Working for the JC has changed the way I think

By Martin Bright, January 30, 2014

When I saw the scenes this week from Paris of protesters demonstrating about Jewish influence in France, I was reminded of an encounter during a visit to Yad Vashem a few years ago.

My guide that day was a young British man who had made aliyah, fought in the IDF and now worked for an Israel advocacy organisation.

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Finding nuance in religious debate? I’ve got quite a job

By Martin Bright, January 24, 2014

We all have our dream jobs, and editing a publication analysing the role of religion in conflicts around the world is mine.

I never imagined for a moment anyone would offer me the role, so I was delighted to be approached by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to work on a new website on religion and globalisation.

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Analysis: A gargantuan figure — but his role in Sabra and Shatila diminished him

By Martin Bright, January 16, 2014

The massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut in September 1982 remain the darkest stain on Ariel Sharon’s reputation.

Hundreds and possibly thousands of Palestinians were murdered by Lebanese Christian Phalangists while the Israeli army stood by.

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Why myth-makers still fight the battle of Masada

By Martin Bright, January 9, 2014

I have spent the past few weeks reading about Masada.

I won’t need to remind readers of this paper of the significance of the Jewish people’s last stand against the Roman occupiers following the destruction of the temple. Nor will I need to tell them of the importance of the story to the construction of Zionist identity or, indeed, the state of Israel.

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Better fascist than gay in football

By Martin Bright, January 2, 2014

The premiership footballer Nicolas Anelka has identified himself as a fascist sympathiser. It really is as simple as that.

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For festive cheer, look to Bradford

By Martin Bright, December 23, 2013

I wanted this column to be full of seasonal cheer, I really did. I wanted to sing of the joys of multicultural inter-faith dialogue, despite my scepticism.

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Don’t need no education? Shallow Waters really does

By Martin Bright, December 19, 2013

When I was growing up, Roger Waters and his band Pink Floyd were considered self-indulgent rock dinosaurs by any self-respecting hipster.

Punk rock was supposed to sweep aside this sort of pretentious nonsense and replace it with snappier, more politically engaged song-writing.

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Netanyahu snub insults anti-apartheid heroes

By Martin Bright, December 12, 2013

As I write, I am watching the inter-faith prayer at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, is invoking the universal message of forgiveness contained in the story of Joseph in Genesis. With Joseph in a position of authority in Egypt, his brothers, who sold him into slavery, fear retribution.

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Bedouin plan critics have a point

By Martin Bright, December 6, 2013

Last week’s “day of rage” against Israeli government plans to move tens of thousands of Bedouin Arabs in the Negev desert to purpose-built settlements was predictable enough.

Even more predictable was the letter to the Guardian from musicians, artists, fashion designers, activists and, naturally, Jemima Khan opposing the so-called Prawer-Begin plan.

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Iran analysis: It’s possible to hope with eyes open

By Martin Bright, November 28, 2013

Looking at the picture of EU foreign minister Cathy Ashton standing between representatives of the Iranian and American governments in Geneva late on Saturday night, it is easy to let the word “appeasement” slip from the lips.

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Why we should mourn Denis MacShane’s fall from grace

By Martin Bright, November 22, 2013

What are we to make of Denis MacShane’s fall from grace? This week, the former Europe Minister pleaded guilty to filing nearly £13,000 of false expenses claims from his think tank, the European Policy Institute.

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Tariq Ramadan was an odd choice for the Orwell Prize lecture

By Martin Bright, November 15, 2013

When I first heard that Tariq Ramadan, the world’s most charming Islamist, had been invited to give the prestigious Orwell Prize lecture, I thought it was some kind of joke.

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Convicted in Bangladesh - what it means in the UK

By Martin Bright, November 7, 2013

This week one of Britain’s most prominent Muslim leaders was found guilty of war crimes during Bangladesh’s war of independence from Pakistan in 1971.

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Crucial report will help fight abuse of politicians

By Martin Bright, October 30, 2013

We like to reassure ourselves with the idea that UK election campaigns are a model of propriety: a mixture of healthy, robust knockabout and charming amateurishness.

Despite recurring stories in recent years about postal-vote fraud, it is probably still safe to say that our elections remain among the least corrupt in the world.

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Norman Geras - the man who changed the way I think

By Martin Bright, October 24, 2013

Following the news of the untimely death at the age of 70 of thinker, teacher, writer and pioneering blogger Norman Geras, I have been re-reading his essay, The Contract of Mutual Indifference, first published in 1998.

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Why did Alastair Burt lose his job?

By Martin Bright, October 18, 2013

Reshuffles are a funny business. At times during the New Labour years it seemed as if the ministerial cards were thrown in the air for the mere amusement of the Prime Minister.

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Time to recognise Kurds are victims of genocide, too

By Martin Bright, October 10, 2013

In August, the Prime Minister gave an interesting response to a question from the campaigning Harlow MP, Robert Halfon, about intervention in Syria.

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Daily Mail should be ashamed for its vicious slur on Ralph Miliband

By Martin Bright, October 3, 2013

There has always been a dark undercurrent to some of the criticism of Ed Miliband. He is just a little too intellectual, too metropolitan, too “north London” for some tastes.

Add to this mix his refugee, Marxist father with a dubious loyalty to Britain, and the ingredients are all there for the kind of vicious attack published by the Daily Mail this week.

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Party over for political Friends of Israel groups

By Martin Bright, September 23, 2013

When my old friend Sunder Katwala was head of the centre-left Fabian Society he had one of his many bright ideas.

Tired of the sniping and bitterness that had poisoned the debate over the Middle East in Britain, he suggested that no senior Labour politician should appear at a meeting held by Labour Friends of Israel unless it was jointly held with Labour Friends of Palestine.

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Why Nick Clegg is in the wrong job

By Martin Bright, September 17, 2013

It has always been something of a mystery why Nick Clegg didn’t demand a serious job for himself in government, settling instead for a seat around the Cabinet table and the meaningless title of Deputy Prime Minister. A Coalition deal that looked canny for the Lib Dem leader at the outset now looks like electoral poison.

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