Daniel Finkelstein

Cameron’s neo-con heritage

By Daniel Finkelstein, October 1, 2009

I call it his “Heir to Irving strategy”. Not its conventional name, I admit, but I think it fits.

I am not the first person to notice that David Cameron’s conservatism is not what we have been used to from the Conservative Party.

His talk of community, of voluntary action, of civil society; his attempts to explain why he is a progressive; his insistence that there is more to life than money; his emphasis on the need to lift people out of poverty. They seem odd themes for a Tory.

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It is right to expose Wiesenthal

By Daniel Finkelstein, August 20, 2009

‘Simon Wiesenthal’s reputation is built on sand. He was a liar and a bad one at that. From the end of the war to the end of his life, he would lie repeatedly about his supposed hunt for Eichmann as well as his other Nazi-hunting exploits.

“Wiesenthal would also concoct outrageous stories about his war years and make false claims about his academic career.”

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Calling Jews Nazis is offensive but not racist, and should be allowed as part of a debate about Israel

By Daniel Finkelstein, July 23, 2009

I have recently begun a campaign (my grand name for writing a post on my blog) against the misuse of the prefix “pre-”.

I noticed that private hire cars now appear on the streets with a London Transport sign and the words “pre-booked only”. I have tried pre-booking a cab, but always just end up booking it instead. Pre-book, pre-order, pre-prepared. It is pre-preposterous.

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Analysis: What David can learn from us

By Daniel Finkelstein, June 25, 2009

Here’s why most politicians accept speaking invitations: they are asked by someone they know and they don’t think quickly enough of a reason why not.

But when you are Leader of the Opposition, accepting a speaking invitation is a big deal. Not just for you; there is also your speech writing team, your press office and your physical advance team who check that you are not about to walk past a shop sign saying F Raud and Sons, and aren’t sharing a platform with someone who gives money to the BNP.

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I can see why people voted BNP

By Daniel Finkelstein, June 18, 2009

It was well past two o’clock in the morning and I had been sitting on a hard, small stool for more than five hours. I couldn’t put my feet down properly on the ground, nor could I stand up, because I was live on the BBC European Election results programme. At any moment, someone might ask me why I thought Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer party had found favour among Slovaks. Things couldn’t get any worse. And then they did.

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All religions are not the same

By Daniel Finkelstein, May 14, 2009

Here’s the argument. I will lay it out for you as simply and as swiftly as I can. I am a Scientologist. Well, no better than a Scientologist. Religions are man-made, and there is no reason to favour their claims to moral authority or special protection. And what demonstrates this is our attitude to new religions.

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Who runs Israel doesn’t matter

By Daniel Finkelstein, April 7, 2009

It seems like an age ago, and I suppose in a way it was another age, but watching President Obama in London last week reminded me of the previous occasion when a new US President visited the city for the first time.

George W Bush was not then quite the villain for the left that he subsequently became. And even though liberals weren’t that fond of him even then, there was a feeling of a new era and some hope attended his visit.

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Sailing: Welcome to nappy valley

By Daniel Finkelstein, April 2, 2009

I have to take it on the chin. If God decided to have another go with that flood thing, He wouldn’t pick me as Noah. I don’t think that it is so much because of my moral failings, which are many. It is more that he would correctly calculate that I would be rubbish at the helm of the Ark.

I’ve always admired Noah. All those hours at sea with the animals fighting like cats and dogs in the back.

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Medical journal made me ill

By Daniel Finkelstein, March 5, 2009

Dear Editor of the British Medical Journal,

I have just taken delivery of your February 28 edition and have, as usual, been enjoying its contents. There were two compelling papers on the “Effectiveness of nurse delivered endoscopy” and you entertain your readers also with a meta-regression analysis of randomised controlled trials on the association between change in high density lipoprotein and cardiovascular disease morbidity.

Oh, and you devote more than seven pages to complaining that Jews send you too many emails.

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Israel itself is their real target

By Daniel Finkelstein, January 29, 2009

When HL Menken was editor of the New Yorker, he hit upon an excellent way of dealing with the huge number of letters he received every day. Whatever the correspondent said — praise, complaint, advice, insult — he or she would receive the same reply: “Dear Sir (or Madam), You may be right. Yours HL Menken”.

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Chanucah v Xmas: no contest

By Daniel Finkelstein, December 23, 2008

Slade were wrong. Yes: “Here it is, Merry Christmas”. But not everybody is having fun.

Every year at Christmas time, I have the same discussions with my colleagues. How can I be doing nothing — nothing — to celebrate the great day? They find it hard to believe that I do not mark the birth of Christ at all. Not even by putting a little pine tree in my lounge.

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I say silence the Shabbat siren

By Daniel Finkelstein, November 20, 2008

I had to read the story twice to be sure I had understood it correctly.

In Stamford Hill, a "Shabbat siren" has been announcing the arrival of the Sabbath. Actually, I'd better be precise. It is not, strictly speaking, a siren. It is "a selection of music and songs being played over a number of loudspeakers". Apparently, those who established it want to make the area "more like Jerusalem".

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How we’ll beat natural hostility

By Daniel Finkelstein, October 23, 2008

We all knew it would happen, didn't we? The question of whether it would didn't come up. We just instantly knew. So I want to ask a different question, the question "why?" And then I want to put this to you - are we all that much better?

The moment Lehmans went belly-up we knew there would be people who would blame it on the Jews. And when Congress rejected the President's bailout plan, we all just waited for the newsreaders to point out that a new plan couldn't be agreed because of Rosh Hashanah, and for the conspiracy nutters to get to work with that.

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Don’t be so hard on evangelicals

By Daniel Finkelstein, September 26, 2008

We are too dismissive of Sarah Palin's religious convictions


The President leaned back in his swivel chair and stared at the ceiling. He stared so long that the silence became embarrassing for his speechwriters. Then, finally, he leaned forward and, using his trademark phrase for dictating to his secretary, he said: "Dorothy, take a law."

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Obama could be bad for Israel

By Daniel Finkelstein, August 21, 2008

I'm tired. It's been seven long, long years and I'm tired. It's so tempting just to lay my head down and rest. Got a pillow, anyone?

It is difficult to understand fully the aims of the 9/11 conspirators, what they were hoping to achieve by blowing up the twin towers. But if one of their objectives was to undermine the unity of the West, then they have succeeded, and succeeded dramatically.

For those of us in Europe determined to argue for solidarity with America and the need for a robust liberal internationalism, it has been a hard, long, rough ride.

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Our media strategy is wrong

By Daniel Finkelstein, July 18, 2008

You can’t batter anti-Israel bias out of journalists. But psychology offers a neater solution


In August 1961, on the A6 in the woods near Mauden in Bedfordshire, a terrible crime was committed. A man was shot and killed in his car and his girlfriend, having been raped, was also shot. She spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

I need to tell you all about it in order to help you the next time you complain to the media about bias against Israel.

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The atheists can’t have Einstein

By Daniel Finkelstein, June 20, 2008

Even if he was conflicted about religion, Albert Einstein did not dismiss God

The crowds were enormous. They lined the streets even in the depths of night; they filled the theatres; they cheered and cheered. His US tour was an extraordinary success. A sell-out. A smash.

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The BNP victory is a calamity

By Daniel Finkelstein, May 9, 2008

The election of the BNP to the London Assembly threatens clear thinking across the political board

‘Blimey.”

I sent this one-word text message to a member of the Tory high command as the results from the local elections came in and it became apparent that what had seemed almost impossible a few months ago had come to pass — Boris Johnson would be the next mayor of London.

“I think you mean cripes!” came the reply.

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Religion and politics do not mix

By Daniel Finkelstein, April 4, 2008

The Catholic Church’s victory over the Embryo Bill is a blow for freedom.

At my age, Martin Luther King Junior was dead. Before the age of 38, he had led the boycott against apartheid on the buses of Alabama, become leader of the civil-rights movement, marched on Washington and told his audience that he had a dream, spent many nights in jail and won the Nobel Peace Prize.

And then, exactly 40 years ago today, he was assassinated.

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