Martin Bright

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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Why Ed Miliband needs Habonim Dror

By Martin Bright, September 12, 2013

As we enter the party conference season, thoughts inevitably turn to political leadership. These are not good times for the men who head up our major parties.

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Why the Syria vote was all about Iraq

By Martin Bright, September 3, 2013

The events of the past week should leave no one in any doubt that the Iraq War is the defining event for the present political generation.

Neither 9/11 and the rise of Islamic extremism, nor even the economic crisis, which both have had more direct and visible consequences on the streets of Britain, have scratched scars as deep as the decision to go to war in 2003.

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The tiny village fanning the flames of Sephardi culture

By Martin Bright, September 1, 2013

Tensions over Gibraltar and the ongoing economic crisis mean these are strange times to be visiting Spain as a British tourist. Neither issue has been mentioned to us since we arrived here last week, but then the Spanish have a reputation for keeping silent about inconvenient aspects of their history.

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Why Finchley is a litmus test for Labour’s election hopes

By Martin Bright, August 23, 2013

One of the first things to strike the outsider who comes into contact with Britain’s Jewish communities is the way the ultra-local is often combined with the uber-global.

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The irrational hatred behind brutal acid attack

By Martin Bright, August 16, 2013

The coverage of the acid attack in Zanzibar has been hard to fathom at times.

Reporters have struggled to find a rational explanation for the atrocity in which the attackers planned to disfigure two young women at the very beginning of their adult lives.

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I’m a huge fan. I even got to the end of his novel, and it’s officially unreadable

By Martin Bright, August 8, 2013

Bob Dylan provided the soundtrack to my adolescence.

Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed — the great triumvirate of misery brought angst-ridden enlightenment to that bedroom in a cul-de-sac on a new-build housing estate in a West Country dormitory town.

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Truth about the British at Auschwitz

By Martin Bright, July 31, 2013

Regular readers of this newspaper will remember the series of articles we ran last year about E715, the British prisoner of war camp at Auschwitz.

A handful of memoirs of the POWs at Auschwitz have been published, including Denis Avey’s controversial bestseller, The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz. But the full story of the 20,000 soldiers interned in the camp has never been told.

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Nuance: still small voice of journalism

By Martin Bright, July 25, 2013

When I first started work in the Observer newsroom in 1996, I remember expressing my view in an editorial meeting that a certain story demanded a degree of nuance. I don’t remember the story but I do remember the reaction of a senior colleague, an experienced foreign reporter. “Nuance”, he spat at me. “There are the good guys and the bad guys. We are against the bad guys.

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When interfaith friends fall out

By Martin Bright, July 19, 2013

I am not a religious person, although I have come close to some sort of reverie at times when in the presence of the culture of the great faiths.

I am easily seduced by a well-proportioned cathedral, mosque or synagogue. In Jerusalem, the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre all do it for me. But I am not a person of faith. I just can’t fake it.

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Qatada wins if we drop the Human Rights Act

By Martin Bright, July 11, 2013

It is nearly 14 years since I first met Omar Mahmood Abu Omar, the man known to the world as Abu Qatada.

He was sitting on the carpeted floor of a book-lined room in north-west London, every bit the picture of a man of Islamic learning. I remember him as a jolly, avuncular figure, gently spoken and charismatic.

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Battle for the Jewish community in Syria is lost

By Martin Bright, June 28, 2013

It is now over a decade since I met Mouffak in the Aleppo souk. This young Syrian was a trader in objets d’art and he had a unique sales pitch: “If you come and see my shop, I’ll show you my synagogue”.

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Pet Shop Boys Israel tonic

By Martin Bright, June 21, 2013

Those of us who have struggled over the years to argue against a cultural boycott of Israel have been put to shame this week by a 1980s pop-synth duo better known for their commentary on nightlife and consumer culture than their analysis of global geopolitics.

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Farewell from a front-row seat at impressive displays of solidarity

By Martin Bright, March 7, 2013

This is my last Bright on Politics column.

After three-and-a-half years at the JC, I will leave with a lump in my throat, so please forgive me if this piece is a little sentimental or, dare I say it, schmaltzy.

When I started work at the paper, some of my former colleagues warned me I was consigning myself to a backwater. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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John Kerry's visit teaches Hague about patronising platitudes

By Martin Bright, February 28, 2013

The new US Secretary of State, John Kerry, honoured the UK with a visit at the start of his first diplomatic tour in the post and dished out a lesson in how it feels to be a small nation patronised by a superpower. There was ample briefing in advance that the focus of his discussions with the UK government would be Syria and the stalled Middle East peace process.

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Ward affair erodes support for LibDems after Tonge

By Martin Bright, February 21, 2013

The David Ward affair continues to rumble on, driving a further wedge between the Liberal Democrats and the UK Jewish population. The party has acted to give the Bradford East MP what Nick Clegg has described as a "yellow card". But it is unclear what purpose this was intended to serve.

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