Daniel Finkelstein

Tutu and a badly slipping halo

By Daniel Finkelstein, September 7, 2012

"If you like the president's politics, you probably like his voice and appearance as well". So writes social psychologist Daniel Kahneman in his wonderful book Thinking Fast and Slow. The Nobel laureate used the example to introduce his readers to the "Halo Effect".

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Why I support gay marriage

By Daniel Finkelstein, June 14, 2012

We Jews like to pray. We spend hours at it. And we've been doing it for thousands of years. Granted, it's in Hebrew so most of us are a bit hazy on the detail. And we aren't big on decorum, or even sometimes on appropriate behaviour.

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United by Galloway and Le Pen

By Daniel Finkelstein, May 3, 2012

On the night David Cameron entered 10 Downing Street, I wrote about the deal he had done with the Liberal Democrats. It seemed to be a significant moment in the development of the centre-right, postponing the day when Labour could annex the entire Lib Dem support.

That now looks correct in retrospect. Correct, but incomplete.

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Dr Williams is special (I think)

By Daniel Finkelstein, March 22, 2012

When I heard the news of the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, my thoughts went back to the beginning, to that day at the end of February 2003 when Dr Rowan Williams was enthroned.

I had wandered through to the features department at The Times to ask their advice about a tricky problem I had encountered, only to find that everyone was glued to the television.

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Dr Williams is special (I think)

By Daniel Finkelstein, March 22, 2012

When I heard the news of the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, my thoughts went back to the beginning, to that day at the end of February 2003 when Dr Rowan Williams was enthroned.

I had wandered through to the features department at The Times to ask their advice about a tricky problem I had encountered, only to find that everyone was glued to the television.

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This banker baiting worries me

By Daniel Finkelstein, February 9, 2012

Let me try something out on you. It may turn out you don't feel as I do. But I have a hunch that more of you will share my uneasiness than won't. It's about Fred Goodwin. In fact, it's about the whole banker thing.

We Jews may be more likely to perceive that the BBC is biased against Israel but, on common-or-garden political issues, we feel pretty much like our non-Jewish neighbours.

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Hitchens got it wrong on Israel

By Daniel Finkelstein, December 29, 2011

It doesn't seem all that long ago that, at a Jewish Book Week event, I met Christopher Hitchens. We parted with him saying that we should get to know each other better. But we never did. He went home to the United States and before we could meet up, he fell ill. I will always regret it. Friends of mine, who knew him well, attest that he was great company.

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Conspiracy of nonsense on Libya

By Daniel Finkelstein, November 28, 2011

I had just finished reading a book by the sociologist Duncan Watts when I heard over the weekend that Saif Gaddafi, the son of the former Libyan leader, had been captured and arrested. The book was called Everything Is Obvious When You Know the Answer.

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How I became a Jewish convert

By Daniel Finkelstein, October 18, 2011

Towards the end of his career, the late, great Jack Rosenthal wrote a television play called Eskimo Day, about the feelings of dislocation and emptiness that come when you see your children off to university, letting them go out into the big world without you. Quite a lot of people reading this column have, I suspect, experienced Eskimo Day in the past month.

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Religion's role in the rioting

By Daniel Finkelstein, September 2, 2011

'Why didn't they steal ping pong tables, then?" was the response of the journalist Tony Parsons to the idea that the London riots had been caused by cuts to youth services.

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Pick a rabbi who speaks for us all

By Daniel Finkelstein, July 22, 2011

Look, you're welcome to tell me this is none of my business. But until you do, I'm just going to get on and say my piece. I hope that's all right. I want to chip in about the choice of a new Chief Rabbi.

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Cultural roots of antisemitism

By Daniel Finkelstein, June 10, 2011

About 10 years ago, I did something I could never have imagined doing. I started writing a weekly football column for The Times. Admittedly, it is rather a quirky one.

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Overcome abuse? Yes we can

By Daniel Finkelstein, March 21, 2011

So anyway, I want to tell you about two encounters I had this week with the community. Encounters that don't seem to be related, but are.

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Palestinian leaks' positive side

By Daniel Finkelstein, February 9, 2011

I have just started reading a book on political hypocrisy. It has started rather well but I haven't got to the point yet. You see, the back cover promises that, by the time I get there, the book will have explained why hypocrisy is not as bad as it is usually painted. It is an honourable part of liberal democratic tradition, apparently. I hope that is right because, otherwise, I've just wasted a lot of time reading about Thomas Hobbes. But I bet Julian Assange is even keener than I am to learn that hypocrisy has its plus points.

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I am more restive than festive

By Daniel Finkelstein, December 30, 2010

It was chaos. There were a lot of Jews about, and so of course it was chaos. We were inside 10 Downing Street - which is often chaotic but they keep it hidden in the side rooms and at the back, up the stairs.

On the surface, things are calm - "No, no, after you, Monsieur le President". This was chaos in the state rooms, at a public reception.

It was the annual Number 10 Chanucah party and every single guest was trying to sing the blessings using a different tune.

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Net threats and court conduct

By Daniel Finkelstein, November 18, 2010

I have received only one proper death threat. And it wasn't very nice. It was during the 1997 General Election campaign when I was working for the Conservative Party, masterminding its biggest defeat since 1832. When I called the police, the officer asked me, as I called him from inside Tory HQ as we headed for a Labour landslide, whether I could think of any reason why someone might not like me. I said that, if I racked my brain, I was sure I could.

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Oh what a beautiful building

By Daniel Finkelstein, September 21, 2010

When I was a boy, they built some shops round the corner from my house. They looked like rather a good thing to me. But what did I know? I was only a boy. And I was biased in any case, since the new stores provided one of the few places I could go without crossing a road.

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Beware of chain-letter blight

By Daniel Finkelstein, August 12, 2010

The Judaic Studies programme of the University of Kentucky offers a course designated as "History 323: The Holocaust". I found this out last week for a rather odd reason, and I thought you would like to know.

Every so often over the past three years, you see, I have been receiving emails about the teaching of the Holocaust. Perhaps you have, too. And I have been ignoring them. But now I realise that perhaps I shouldn't have.

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Peace is for those who want it

By Daniel Finkelstein, July 15, 2010

Three days before he left office, President Bill Clinton received a message of congratulations from Yasir Arafat. "You are a great man," Arafat told him. But Clinton was having none of it. "I am not a great man," he replied. "I am a failure. And you made me one".

President Clinton has always been very clear where he believes the blame lies for the failure of the Camp David peace talks that took place 10 years ago this month. Arafat, and the Palestinian leadership, Clinton believes, missed a golden chance when they rejected, out of hand, the deal they were offered by Ehud Barak.

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Will a Jewish template work?

By Daniel Finkelstein, June 3, 2010

It can't be on Israel again - they'll have had plenty of that. And the general political stuff won't work with this audience. We can take questions on that, but that's all. Why don't we go down the charity route?

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