Martin Bright

Initiatives like these are arguments against boycotts

By Martin Bright, August 19, 2010

The other week I spent the evening in a beautiful garden in east Jerusalem listening to sublime music that brought together the best of the traditions of western, Arabic and Jewish music, ancient and modern.

It was a unique event, bringing together two of the most prominent musicians in the region, one Jewish, one Palestinian. Also performing for a small audience of friends and invited outsiders was a group of rappers from the Shuafat refugee camp. Everyone agreed that it was an astonishing moment.

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Jerusalem culture season planned

By Martin Bright, August 5, 2010

A Jerusalem Season of Culture, an annual event to promote the arts of the city is to be launched next summer.

The event is part of a drive by the artistic community in Jerusalem to show an alternative perspective of a city often associated with division, violence and religious fanaticism.

Figures in the political, business and cultural worlds in Jerusalem are also keen to remove the Israeli capital from the shadow of its more hedonistic neighbour Tel Aviv.

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Cameron's comments are a measure of Israel's PR failure

By Martin Bright, July 29, 2010

David Cameron's description of Gaza as a "prison camp" during a visit to Turkey may have caused deep offence in Israel and parts of the Jewish community around the world, but the Prime Minister can be safe in the knowledge that his comments are relatively uncontroversial elsewhere.

Like most British politicians of his generation, Mr Cameron has no great knowledge of foreign affairs. But ignorance cannot explain why the Ankara speech did not make the usual diplomatic nod towards Hamas extremism and the threat to Israel's security.

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Analysis: Fallout puts strain on new coalition

By Martin Bright, June 10, 2010

The new government's pro-Israel stance has been sorely tested by the fiasco of the raid on the Gaza flotilla. William Hague is said to have been taken aback by the level of anger from Conservative MPs after news of the deaths of the operation broke last week. The deaths of nine Turkish nationals and the presence of British activists made Israel's actions impossible to defend in the immediate aftermath.

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Livingstone, you have libelled me. Apologise

By Martin Bright, May 27, 2010

Dear Ken:

I was shocked to see that you had called me “a bit of an Islamophobe” on the Iranian state TV channel Press TV in an interview with Andrew Gilligan. There is no evidence for your claim, which is highly defamatory, deeply upsetting and potentially dangerous.

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Analysis: Amnesty was not set up to bash Israel

By Martin Bright, May 21, 2010

Amnesty has taken a curious turn recently. Its credibility was damaged when it sided with an organisation campaigning for Guantanamo detainees in a dispute with its own official, Gita Sahgal, a respected women's rights campaigner.

In doing so, it appeared to suspend its strict rules on the groups with which it associates its brand.

Amnesty should defend the rights of those abused in the pursuit of the war on terror. But it should not promote them at the expense of longstanding activists such as Sahgal.

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Israel champion Burt is Middle East minister

By Martin Bright, May 21, 2010

The appointment of Alistair Burt as Middle East Minister in the Foreign Office sends as clear a message as possible about the direction of the new government in the region. Mr Burt is listed as an officer in the parliamentary group of Conservative Friends of Israel and has been passionate in campaigning for visiting rights to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas for the past four years.

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Analysis: This was a victory for all those who elect hope over hatred

By Martin Bright, May 13, 2010

Labour, Liberal Democrat or Tory, Jewish or non-Jewish: a string of results from last week's election should be wholeheartedly welcomed by people who care about British democracy.

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Jew and Muslim are Conservative co-chairs

By Martin Bright, May 13, 2010

A Jew and a Muslim have been appointed joint chairs of the Conservative Party in a bold attempt to establish David Cameron’s credentials as a modernising leader who can reach out across British society.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a 39-year-old lawyer from Dewsbury, who was shadow communities spokeswoman, will serve as Britain’s first Muslim Cabinet member.

She leapt to public prominence after her combative performance on Question Time alongside BNP leader Nick Griffin.

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Election 2010: Political Editor Martin Bright's Analysis

By Martin Bright, May 7, 2010

As I said in the comment pages of the JC this week, the Jewish vote is as diverse as the people that make it up.

That said, there is no doubt that this election will have been of huge interest to individual Jewish voters.

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Muslim group's 'vicious abuse' of candidates

By Martin Bright, May 6, 2010

A Muslim organisation which campaigns against candidates who support Israel has been reported to the equalities watchdog for intimidating behaviour.

The Community Security Trust raised its concerns about the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) in a meeting with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission before the election, and received an assurance that its activities would be closely monitored. Such has been the intensity of the MPAC campaign that the CST decided to take up the issue with the EHRC as soon as the polls closed.

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So, then, who is a Jewish voter?

By Martin Bright, May 6, 2010

The three main political parties pursued Jewish voters with something approaching religious fervour during the election. The pages of this newspaper provide a clear testimony to this. Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all gave thoughtful answers to a series of questions posed by the JC, while a series of senior politicians gave interviews and wrote pieces aimed at reassuring the community that their parties had Jewish interests at heart.

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Party leaders stake their claims for Jewish votes

By Martin Bright, April 29, 2010

The three major political parties this week made their pitch for the vote of JC readers in a series of exclusive articles and interviews involving senior politicians.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg told us that his party's criticism of Operation Cast Lead stemmed from a concern that Israel was damaging its international reputation.

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William Hague: The full JC interview

By Martin Bright, April 29, 2010

Was the idea of the new alliance with new parties in the European Union yours?

We knew we would create a new group. Obviously, it wasn’t our intention to sit unaligned in the European parliament. The whole point of leaving it was to have a new group with a different outlook in some ways on Europe to the EPP, which is federalist grouping, which is why the Conservative Party has never been comfortable in it.

Nor have the Czech Party, the ODS. So we wanted to create a new grouping and that grew naturally from David Cameron’s pledge.

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Nick Clegg: The full JC interview

By Martin Bright, April 29, 2010

What would you do to kick-start talks in the Middle East in order to bring about a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict?

Clearly President Obama has the most leverage over the parties in the peace process. There is a limit to what we can do on our own, but I would like to see the UK and the EU supporting the initiatives being taken by the Americans.

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Anti-Israel Iraqi billionaire's dinner with Nick Clegg

By Martin Bright, April 22, 2010

A controversial Iraqi-British billionaire who funds one of the UK's most strongly anti-Zionist websites organised a banquet in honour of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, and a fundraiser for Susan Kramer, the party's candidate in the high-profile seat of Richmond Park.

Nadhmi Auchi, 73, was convicted of fraud in the giant French Elf-Aquitaine oil company trial in 2003 and given a suspended sentence, although he is seeking to appeal the verdict.

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Gordon Brown: His JC interview in full

By Martin Bright, April 22, 2010

What would a new Labour government do to kick-start talks in the Middle East in order to bring about over a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict?

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Gordon Brown: Tory extremists betray British values

By Martin Bright, April 21, 2010

Gordon Brown has accused the Conservatives of compromising British values and British influence by allying with “marginalised” figures in Europe accused of holding extremist antisemitic and homophobic views.

In a fiercely worded attack in an interview with the JC, the Prime Minister said the Opposition leader had abandoned the mainstream grouping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in order to appease a section of “fanatical” Eurosceptic backbenchers.

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Karen Buck: the full interview

By Martin Bright, April 15, 2010

Westminster is a very diverse community. Is it not divisive to concentrate on the interests of one group?

Westminster is indeed a very diverse part of London and contains many communities. The vast majority of my correspondence with constituents has been, as one would rightly expect, in English but I feel it is important to try to reach out to people within each of the different communities in Westminster by whatever means is most appropriate.

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Labour candidate accused of "dishonest and dangerous" letter

By Martin Bright, April 15, 2010

A Labour candidate has been accused of running a "dishonest and dangerous" campaign to woo Arab voters in her constituency, by playing up her support for the people of Gaza and misrepresenting her opposition to the war in Iraq.

Karen Buck, Labour's candidate in the newly-formed constituency of Westminster North, sent out a letter in Arabic to residents condemning the "collective punishment" of Palestinians in Gaza and describing the situation as "abhorrent".

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