Martin Bright

Analysis: Just how Jewish is the Big Society?

By Martin Bright, October 22, 2010

The full consequences of the Comprehensive Spending Review will take some time to digest. But one implication of the cuts is that the concept of the Big Society will immediately move from the realm of think-tank utopianism into the hard reality of delivery on the ground.

Whether the so-called "third sector" will have the capacity to cope with the fall-out from 500,000 job losses predicted by the government is yet to be seen.


How Labour feared a BNP Barking win

By Martin Bright, October 21, 2010

A new film to be screened next month will reveal the extent of Labour Party fears that the British National Party would seize the seat from the long-serving MP Margaret Hodge at this year's general election.

The Battle for Barking, a feature-length documentary for More4, shows that Labour strategists believed white working-class voters were deeply sympathetic to the BNP's anti-immigration message, and in parts of her constituency 70 per cent of voters were considering voting for the far-right party.


Picking apart Miliband's shadow appointments

By Martin Bright, October 14, 2010

It's tempting to play "spot the Zionist", "spot the Islamist appeaser" or even "spot the closet antisemite", whenever a new list of political appointments is released. The list of Shadow Ministers published this week is an open invitation to do just this. There is no doubt thata Labour front bench with John Denham as Home Secretary and Sadiq Khan as Foreign Secretary would be


Analysis: Tories mend fences as Labour digs holes

By Martin Bright, October 7, 2010

Change is always unsettling and this season of political conferences has ushered in all the uncertainty that inevitably follows a general election. Fringe meetings at the Conservative Party conference were infused with an atmosphere of near- panic as desperate lobbyists scrambled for the ear of ministers, while trying to second-guess the coalition plans in advance of the comprehensive spending review.


Interview: Michael Gove

By Martin Bright, September 28, 2010

On Israel security:
Its position will be strengthened by doing properly by its neighbours

On faith schools:
They equip people brilliantly for multi-cultural 21st century Britain

On air travel:
I'll follow Tony Blair's example and have a couple of pints first

There was one matter I had been wanting to clear up with Michael Gove for some time. I had heard that the Conservative Party's most consistent and passionate defender of Israel had never travelled to the country itself.


Analysis: Does Ed Miliband have any foreign policy?

By Martin Bright, September 28, 2010

So we have Britain's first Jewish leader of the Labour Party, and yet Ed Miliband's position on a key series of issues for the Jewish community remains something of a mystery. On Israel, the wider Middle East, radical Islam, the security of the Jewish community in Britain, his views are at best opaque, if not quite a closed book.

I spoke to two former Labour foreign ministers at party conference this week and they both said they had no idea what Ed Miliband thought about foreign affairs, and had never heard him talk about Israel or the peace process.


Analysis: What the Big Society may mean for Israel

By Martin Bright, September 21, 2010

I have been observing the "Big Society" at close quarters this summer, establishing a small charity helping the long-term unemployed find work in the creative industries. I also spent a week visiting artists and writers in Jerusalem, where I was struck by the gulf in liberal intellectual opinion between Israel and Britain.

But the most memorable conversation I had recently was with a prominent member of the UK Jewish establishment who told me of his serious concerns about the future.


Interview: Lord Carlile

By Martin Bright, September 17, 2010

Before this year's election, Lord Carlile probably had more recent experience of dealing with the business end of government than any other Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords.

As the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation for the past nine years, Alex Carlile QC monitored the Labour government's fight against Islamic extremism at close quarters.


Jenny Tonge lost us two seats, says Lib Dem peer

By Martin Bright, September 17, 2010

A leading Liberal Democrat believes Baroness Tonge's views on Israel may have helped to lose the party two seats at the general election.

Lord Carlile says that reaction to his fellow Lib Dem peer may have cost vital votes in the north London seats of Hampstead and Kilburn, and Islington South and Finsbury.

"My belief is that remarks taken as antisemitic had a significant effect on the results in those two very marginal north London seats," he said in an interview with the JC this week.


Yad Vashem's big British error

By Martin Bright, September 2, 2010

I recently lost my rag at Yad Vashem.  I didn't shout and stamp my feet. I'm not that crass. Being British, I just quietly fumed and grumbled to a friend who was with me. But I was properly angry, not just on my own behalf but that of my whole country.  Why? Because my guide, a senior curator at the museum, had chosen to lump Britain in as part of her sweeping picture of European capitulation in the face of the Wehrmacht.

"Look how they all surrendered," she said, pointing with a series of thrusts of her finger at the map of Europe with a look of  disgust.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.