Geoffrey Alderman

A laughable interfaith initiative

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 5, 2009

Although we shall not be celebrating Purim until next week, some Jews have decided that the revelries associated with this most anarchic of festivals should actually commence as soon as the month of Adar has been ushered in.

This was the suggestion made to me by a senior communal rabbi after reading a press release issued by the Board of Deputies on February 25 — the first of Adar. He thought it could only have been intended as a Purim spiel – and, frankly, so did I, until the Board confirmed that we were wrong.

More..

Foul play needs firm response

By Geoffrey Alderman, February 26, 2009

In recent weeks, the JC has reported on a wide variety of semi-hysterical manifestations grounded in an undoubted (though limited) public disquiet in this country following Israel’s military action in Gaza. These manifestations have ranged from genuine humanitarian concern at the incidence and intensity of civilian casualties to an outrageous manipulation of this concern for the sole purpose of pushing a scarcely disguised anti-Jewish agenda.

The recent production staged at the Royal Court Theatre — Seven Jewish Children — clearly sits at this latter end of the spectrum.

More..

Beware Lord Ahmed’s bigotry

By Geoffrey Alderman, February 18, 2009

On January 26, Baron Ahmed of Rotherham exercised the privilege of his position as a member of the House of Lords to ask the government “whether any British citizens are serving in the Israeli Defence Force or the Israeli Defence Reserves”.

How the government could possibly know this is a moot point, because British citizens are under no obligation to inform the government where they are going when they leave the UK; in any case, their first port of call might not be their final destination.

More..

Why I worry about the JNF

By Geoffrey Alderman, February 12, 2009

The Jewish National Fund is almost as old as the Zionist movement. The Fund was established in 1901 to purchase and develop land in Turkish-controlled Palestine. The monies used for this purpose were derived partly from wealthy philanthropists and partly from the pennies collected in the famous “blue boxes” that graced the mantelpieces of even the poorest Jewish households.

More..

Review: Major Farran’s Hat

By Geoffrey Alderman, February 12, 2009

By David Cesarani
William Heinemann, £20

On May 6 1947, Alexander Rubowitz, a teenage member of “Lehi” — “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”, — was abducted in Jerusalem by a “special squad” of the Palestine Police, led by Roy Farran, who later interrogated and murdered him.

More..

Troubling Irish lesson for us all

By Geoffrey Alderman, February 5, 2009

Sometimes it is salutary to step back from our own communal preoccupations and try to capture a wider view of the society in which we British Jews live. With that end in mind, I propose to consider an extraordinary event that took place in Belfast last week.

More..

The Jews who wish others dead

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 29, 2009

Now that an uneasy truce has descended upon Gaza and southern Israel, it is time to consider some of the uglier domestic repercussions of the recent conflict. By “domestic”, I mean here, in the United Kingdom, where it seems to me that Israel’s action has unleashed an anti-Jewish demon that lay, like some slumbering reptile, waiting for its moment to pounce.

More..

Outrage that is highly selective

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 22, 2009

In the aftermath of the London transport bombings of July 2005, a number of respected leaders of Islamic communities in the UK, whilst condemning the bombings without reservation, called nonetheless for an official inquiry into their cause.

More..

How Gaza reveals home truths

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 14, 2009

In every cloud there is at least one silver lining. In the present conflict in Gaza, there are several.

More..

Jews who are no longer Jewish

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 8, 2009

Of all the columns I have written for this page, none has caused a greater outcry than that published on 3 August 2007. This addressed the question of whether or not it was possible for Jews to engage in a meaningful dialogue with Muslims. Referring to the Koran, and to the very early history of the Islamic faith, I observed that Islam had been founded “in part, on an explicit anti-Jewish discourse”.

More..

Out of tune fiddling on the roof

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 30, 2008

Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, the location of the bizarre end-of-term production of Fiddler on the Roof reported in the JC of December 19, is a prestigious, much-sought-after state school. As its website proudly proclaims, it was the first sixth-form college in the country to be awarded Ofsted’s “designated outstanding” status, by virtue of being assessed as outstanding in all inspection categories.

More..

The JLC got nothing from Brown

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 23, 2008

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary took it upon themselves to meet a delegation from the Jewish Leadership Council. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are extremely busy people and for either of them — let alone both — to set aside time to meet the supposed representatives of what is numerically one of the smallest of Britain’s ethnic minorities, comprising much less than one half of one per cent of the UK’s total population, can mean only one of two things.

More..

Religious courts have a place

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 18, 2008

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Nothing could better illustrate the truth of this dictum than the recent launch of a campaign to suppress all religious tribunals in this country. And nothing could better support Alderman’s oft-repeated contention that the greatest enemies of religious freedom are those who disguise themselves as champions of individual rights.

More..

Faith schools minus the faith?

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 11, 2008

Amid all the current doom and gloom, do you fancy some light relief? If so, and you have access to a computer, may I recommend that you read the Runnymede Trust’s recent report entitled Right to divide? Faith Schools and Community Cohesion?

On the face of it, this document is no joke. Among its conclusions is the warning that current provision for learning about religion “is too often poor in schools without a religious character”. Well, I’ll say Amen to that.

More..

C of E sanctioned Israel hate

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 4, 2008

Should you, by any chance, have been in the vicinity of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, on the evening of Wednesday 26 November last, you might perhaps have heard one of the most blatant pieces of anti-Israeli propaganda to have come from the bowels of the Established Church of England in modern times.

More..

A quota on Jewish MPs?

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 27, 2008

Earlier this month, the House of Commons resolved to established a "Speaker's Conference" - in effect, an all-party committee of inquiry chaired by the Speaker - 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".

Whatever the detailed outcomes emanating from this investigation, its conclusions have the potential to affect adversely the status of Britain's Jewish citizens.

More..

You can bank on old prejudice

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 20, 2008

Readers of this column will know that I hold a healthily jaundiced view of the Jewish Leadership Council, a self-appointed body answerable to no one. But that does not mean that I necessarily discount the research that it sponsors, or that I necessarily disagree with everything that it says.

More..

Obama pressure Israel? Bad idea

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 13, 2008

The election of a new American president is always an anxious time for the state of Israel. More than a third of the world's Jews live in the USA and, although these Jews account for a mere two per cent of the USA's total population, they tend to punch very much above their weight, being prominent in business, commerce and the professions. Last week, around three-quarters of them appear to have voted for the Democrat ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

More..

Beware of doing Hebrew A-level

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 6, 2008

More..

Denial is not a criminal matter

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 30, 2008

In its issue of October 3, the JC ran the story of the arrest, at Heathrow airport on an EU warrant issued by the German government, of a German-born Holocaust-denier, Frederick Toben. Mr Toben is actually an Australian citizen. No matter; he arrived at Heathrow from the USA, en route to Dubai. The Metropolitan Police arrested him because the German government alleges that he has persisted in posting material on the internet denying or "playing down" the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews.

More..