Geoffrey Alderman

So Gaza was disproportionate

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 16, 2009

Earlier this year, two military operations were undertaken in two of the world’s most volatile conflict zones. In the first, Israel launched a large-scale incursion into Gaza, following months of rocket and grenade attacks against Israel by Gaza’s Hamas government and by independent Islamist militias that Hamas was unable or unwilling to control.


Can the Board speak for us all?

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 9, 2009

What does the future hold for the Board of Deputies of British Jews as it approaches its 250th birthday?

It is being said that, for the first time in its history, the Board’s leadership is now left-of-centre — not in any narrow, party-political sense but rather as a measurement of the leadership’s perceived position in relation to a range of communal issues.


Could the whole sorry, not to say costly, mess have been avoided?

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 2, 2009

The time has surely come to pin the tails firmly upon the donkeys to which they rightfully belong.

To judge by my electronic mailbag, British Jewry is in a state of confusion over the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of “M,” whose mother was converted by a non-Orthodox Beth Din and whose application for admission to the JFS was, on that basis, vetoed by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks.


Are all Jews in the news ours?

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 25, 2009

Did you know that David Cameron has Jewish roots? I must confess I didn’t until I read an item in last week’s Jewish Tribune. I was aware of Cameron’s direct descent from William IV and William’s fecund mistress Dorothea Jordan, and that Cameron is therefore a distant cousin (a fifth cousin, twice removed, to be exact) of our present Queen — though on the wrong side of the sheets (a fact upon which the Tribune was naturally silent).


Women rabbis? Why ever not?

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 18, 2009

Avraham Weiss is one of the most dynamic Orthodox rabbis to have emerged in the post-Holocaust era.


The real Obama ultimatum

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 11, 2009

Did Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo on June 4 signal a looming confrontation with the government of Israel?

As an example of political rhetoric, the speech was a tour-de-force. It confirmed — if confirmation was needed — that the US President is a great orator. It also confirmed the President as a risk-taker, and a courageous one.


HSA’s policies need attention

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 4, 2009

The Hospital Savings Association (HSA) was founded in 1922, long before the establishment of the National Health Service. The HSA was then merely one of a large number of quasi-charitable bodies — many of them associated with the trade-union and friendly-society (including Jewish friendly-society) movements — that provided access to quality medical care in return for a modest weekly outlay. In the case of the HSA, this outlay amounted to three (old) pence per week. At that time, workhouse hospitals catered for the poor, and private hospitals for the well-to-do.


It’s not Zionism that fuels hate

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 28, 2009

A question that has often arisen in recent times is: what are the causes of contemporary anti-Jewish prejudice? It is a big question, and it would require a great deal more space than a newspaper column to answer it in any depth.

Nonetheless, simply because a question has been asked before doesn’t mean it should not be asked again. Just because I’m a simple newspaper columnist doesn’t mean that I should not attempt some sort of answer. Besides, I confess that I have an ulterior motive in troubling you again with this topic.


UK faith schools are not divisive

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 27, 2009

The riots that took place in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham in 2001, followed by the terrorist attacks in the USA later that year and in London in 2005, combined to bring about fundamental changes in British educational policy and in the manner in which British citizenship is officially articulated. In concluding that all these events involved Islamist extremists, we need not ignore the genuine grievances of, particularly young, Muslims.


Why Bibi and Obama cosied up

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 21, 2009

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu met US President Barack Obama in one of the most minutely choreographed get-togethers in the history of diplomatic relations. The President can claim an overwhelming mandate to break with the policies of the Bush era. The Prime Minister can claim an overwhelming mandate to protect Israel’s interests in the international arena.


Slaughtering of the opposition

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 14, 2009

The decision by the European Parliament last week to legalise Jewish religious slaughter —shechita — in all EU member states is a victory for religious freedom. It also reflects a remarkable pooling of efforts by a disciplined coalition of pro-shechita lobbies: the European Jewish Congress, the Conference of European Rabbis, and last but by no means least, Shechita UK.


Beware ‘ethnic’ lists for MPs

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 7, 2009

Last November, I devoted my column to a consideration of the Speaker’s Conference that had been summoned to “consider, and make recommendations for rectifying, the disparity between the representation of women and ethnic minorities and disabled people in the House of Commons and their representation in the UK population at large”.


No rabbi can ‘represent’ us all

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 30, 2009

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, soon to step down as head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has never been afraid to speak his mind. But some off-the-cuff remarks he made over the recent Passover/Easter period are likely to have set several cats among the pigeons, though I doubt that his Eminence will have realised this at the time.


Beis Medrash Elyon School, behave!

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 23, 2009

Beis Medrash Elyon is an independent secondary school for boys. It was established in 2001 and currently has on its roll some 45 or so pupils. Most of its teaching staff are part-time. It is an Orthodox Jewish faith school; indeed five years ago it took the trouble of obtaining special designation by the UK government as one of a select number of independent schools that are permitted “to take account of certain religious considerations in making specified employment decisions which relate to teaching staff”.


Israel/Palestine: a clash of arms and opinions

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 16, 2009

Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989
By Mark LeVine
Zed Books, £14.99

‘A Senseless, Squalid war’ — Voices From Palestine 1945-1948
By Norman Rose
The Bodley Head, £20

There is no shortage of books purporting to explain the origins and history of the conflict between Israel and the Arab world. By way of justification for adding to this ever-burgeoning library, Mark LeVine, of the University of California, promises a “fresh and honest” account of the collapse of the peace process initiated at Oslo in 1993.


Israel’s dubious Irish visitor

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 16, 2009

Shortly before Pesach, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams announced that he planned to visit Israel over the festive season and that he intended to “meet with all sides and urge all sides to end all armed actions and to engage in meaningful dialogue.”


Labour’s spineless tactics

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 7, 2009

A year or so from now we shall be experiencing a general election. When polling day comes around, Labour will be defending a majority of 67 seats. On the basis of current trends, this could be wiped out, but it is well known that there is generally a swing back to the governing party (“better the devil you know”) on the actual day of the poll.


Wrong way to attack the BNP

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 2, 2009

In two months’ time, the country will go to the polls to elect members of the European Parliament. The British National Party has high hopes that it will register its first Euro-election success at these contests, building on its recent local election victories and the election last year of its first member of the London Assembly.


A film director’s tunnel vision

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 26, 2009

There is something distinctly menacing about the speech made by film director Ken Loach at the launch, in Brussels earlier this month, of the so-called Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

The Russell Tribunal was established in the late 1960s by the philosopher Bertrand Russell. Its aim was to investigate war crimes alleged to have been committed by the Americans in Vietnam. It was asked to widen its inquiries to cover war crimes allegedly committed by the Communist regime of North Vietnam and by that regime’s client army that operated in South Vietnam. It refused to do so.


Children need this protection

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 19, 2009

Three years ago, Parliament enacted a wide-ranging Childcare Act, which addressed, among other things, the lamentable lack of professional training for those to whom the care of young children is entrusted in crèches and nurseries.

It was once the case that more or less anyone could set up a nursery, and employ more or less anyone to do the caring. This is no longer legal. All “settings” in which young children are cared for outside the home must (since last September) be regularly inspected by Ofsted.