Geoffrey Alderman

Burt’s very blurred big picture

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 14, 2013

At the end of June, House Magazine carried an interview with the parliamentary under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, Alistair Burt. Burt has a daunting portfolio, for his responsibilities encompass no less than 27 countries stretching from North America through North Africa to the Middle East.


When history is in a sorry state

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 8, 2013

On June 25, Dr James Renton, a history lecturer, delivered a lecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies on the subject of the Balfour Declaration. Hosted by Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Renton addressed the question "Should Britain apologise for the Balfour Declaration?" He clearly believes the answer is in the affirmative.


Banker, Traitor, Scapegoat, Spy?

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 5, 2013

Next year we shall commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. When Britain declared war on Germany scenes of jubilation were seen throughout the UK. But as the war dragged on, and as British casualty lists climbed to obscene levels, violent anti-German hysteria, cynically exploited by politicians, gripped the nation.


Assaulted rabbi deserves to win

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 28, 2013

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s election season in Israel. The candidates are setting forth their manifestos, and — naturally — throwing verbal vitriol at each other. Insults fly thick and fast. Two weeks ago, one of the candidates was actually physically attacked by certain of his opponents. “It’s disgraceful (I hear you say) — but what can you expect of politicians?”


Board acted with gay abandon

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 25, 2013

It's a plucky commentator indeed who sets out to criticise the editor on whom he relies for his weekly dole. But this is what I am about to do, and I'm about to do it primarily in order to correct a serious misconception that I fear is widespread within British Jewry.


Union heeding wake-up call

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 18, 2013

On the assumption that most of you are not devotees of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, or in full paid-up membership of one of its numerous conventicles, I need to bring you up to speed on developments within the Union and its affiliates that are without precedent.


The false dignity of departure

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 4, 2013

Last week, London's Barbican Centre staged the glitzy spectacle of the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, being interviewed by David Frost. According to one report, "successive speakers waxed lyrical" about Sacks's influence on them, the Jewish community, and British society at large.


Capitulation of the Deputies

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 27, 2013

'What goes around comes around" - so they say. I began writing this column 11 years ago. My debut appeared in the issue of March 1 2002. The topic I had chosen for my inaugural essay was the Board of Deputies of British Jews.


When hypocrisy met vanity

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 20, 2013

Coincidence is a funny thing. Take last Wednesday. I had reserved that morning to prepare a lecture on the intellectual origins of Nazism. I intended asking why so many apparently sane academics saw fit to endorse Nazism, and indeed promote it.


One small step, not a giant leap

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 13, 2013

The election of Mrs Karen Appleby as the first female chair of a United Synagogue shul (St Albans) is certainly a landmark. The question is, precisely what sort of a landmark is it?


It’s not necessarily good to talk

By Geoffrey Alderman, May 7, 2013

In 1906 a portentous meeting took place between Chaim Weizmann and the Conservative leader Arthur Balfour. Weizmann expounded to a shocked Balfour the broad principles of Zionism. Balfour was shocked because these unashamed nationalistic aspirations did not reflect the views he was accustomed to hearing from the highly assimilated Anglo-Jewish establishment whose company he enjoyed.


When segregation is acceptable

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 30, 2013

Recent media reports have focused on instances of gender segregation at events arranged by Islamic societies at British universities.


Fit for a king, but not for a rabbi?

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 22, 2013

The tragedy of Gilles Bernheim is symptomatic of a wider hypocrisy where issues of intellectual dishonesty are concerned.


Where next after UCU ruling?

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 15, 2013

In 2011, the University College Union repudiated the "working definition" of antisemitism promulgated by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism. This definition, while permitting criticism of Israel as of any other state, nonetheless included among its examples of antisemitic conduct, "manifestations" that "target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity."


Rescuing a refugee was her ‘great achievement’

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 11, 2013

Margaret Thatcher was arguably the most philosemitic Prime Minister this country has ever had. The daughter of a Grantham grocer who was also a Methodist lay preacher, her strict religious upbringing instilled in her a deep respect for the Jewish people.


Hatred that needs no ‘context’

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 9, 2013

For the past 14 years, there have been two debating chambers used by members of the House of Commons. The first is the one we are all accustomed to seeing on our television screens, with government and opposition members facing each other confrontationally, their exchanges moderated by the Speaker.


The great mini-latke conspiracy

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 28, 2013

There’s something deeply sinister behind the current mini-latke crisis.


My dear, put-upon Lord Ahmed

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 24, 2013

An Open Letter To The Lord Ahmed of Rotherham in the county of South Yorkshire, c/o The House of Lords:

As-salamu 'alayka!

Greetings from your Lordship's Humble Servant, Professor Geoffrey Alderman.


Don’t mourn Hugo the wicked

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 19, 2013

Two years ago I caused a certain amount of controversy with my reaction to the death of a Palestinian activist. I was told it was not the done thing for a Jew to express pleasure at the death of another human. Well, we have just celebrated Purim, on which we are expected to make merry at the deaths of hundreds of Jew-baiters in ancient Persia.


Storm in a Zionist teacup...

By Geoffrey Alderman, March 11, 2013

Should we be concerned that the national council of the Zionist Federation has declined to approve an application for ZF membership that had been lodged several months ago by an organisation calling itself Yachad?