Geoffrey Alderman

Stop this shocking proposal

By Geoffrey Alderman, February 9, 2011

From time to time, the JC has been criticised - and so have I, personally - for reporting and commenting on events from a narrow ethnic or religious perspective.

Appearing at a charity fund-raising panel last year, I was asked whether it was really "a good thing" for me to use this column simply to air "Jewish" concerns.

More..

Rules seem beyond our Ken

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 27, 2011

In principle, there is no reason why an active politician - one still involved in the cut-and-thrust of public life - should not also have a regular slot as a contributor to or even as a presenter of a television programme.

More..

Going through the motions

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 24, 2011

Those of us who attended the boycott debate held at the London School of Economics last week were privileged to learn some valuable lessons about the boycott issue itself, the motives of those - including some Jews - who identify themselves as boycott sponsors, and the manner in which their arguments may be comprehensively confounded.

We were also given a demonstration of how, on an emotive issue, a civilised academic dialogue can nonetheless be conducted.

More..

Abbas's ineffectual UDI threat

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 14, 2011

The current negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinian Authority are, if not actually dead, then certainly in a critical state exhibiting every sign of comprehensive systemic failure.

I say this in spite of the commendable optimism voiced earlier this month by Quartet representative Tony Blair, who told Sky News that direct talks between the two sides could start "within weeks."

Well of course they could. But how meaningful would they be?

More..

Chief Rabbi as mythical hero

By Geoffrey Alderman, January 10, 2011

It was the celebrated historian A. J. P. Taylor who taught me a fundamental truth about my profession. Commenting more or less positively on a research seminar presentation I'd given, he remarked: "Remember, Geoffrey, that the historian's job is to destroy myth. Of course, it is far better to prevent myth in the first place."

It is in this spirit - prevention being better than cure - that I offer some thoughts triggered by the encomia that greeted the announcement that Lord Sacks is to retire as Chief Rabbi at his contractual retirement age in 2013.

More..

Pinteresque drama at school

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 29, 2010

The Yesodey Hatorah schools, Hackney, owe their existence principally to the efforts of the late rabbis Abraham Pardes and Shmuel Pinter. The kindergarten and primary schools are private establishments. But the secondary school is "voluntary aided", meaning that it is part-funded by the state and is expected to conform to certain state-mandated norms.

More..

The facts tell a different story

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 24, 2010

On the face of it, the Israeli rabbis who signed up to an edict forbidding Jews from selling or renting homes or land to non-Jews have scored a spectacular own-goal.On the face of it this edict, which appears to have originated with the Chief Rabbi of Sfat, contravenes Israeli law, which naturally prohibits discrimination on racial grounds.

More..

The East End shoot-out that turned Churchill against Jews

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 22, 2010

On December 16 1910 a gang of robbers attempted to dig their way into the premises of a jewellers' shop at Houndsditch, in the City of London. Armed, it turned out, with an assortment of pistols and large quantities of ammunition, the gang was disturbed, the police (who were unarmed, of course) were called, and in the ensuing confrontation three officers were killed and a further two severely disabled.

More..

Masterful ignorance rewarded

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 20, 2010

A typical master's degree consists of a number of taught courses and a short thesis - generally 25,000 or so words. I have examined hundreds of such offerings.

More..

Time to attack local terrorism

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 9, 2010

The greatest threat to the safety and security of Jews living in the UK comes from Muslims also living in the UK. Not all British Muslims, of course, or even a majority of them. But a section of British Muslim society harbours malevolent and occasionally murderous intentions towards British Jews. This is a deeply unpalatable truth. But truth it is.

In last week's JC, political editor Martin Bright commented on a forthcoming report by the Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute that identifies the UK as (in Martin's words) "the centre of a systematic assault on Israel's right to exist."

More..

Mouth open and foot put in

By Geoffrey Alderman, December 6, 2010

No one of any intelligence can dispute the right of Mr Mick Davis, as a private individual, to say - in public and within reason- whatever he likes about anything he feels the need to say anything he likes about. But if, in public, Mr Davis - the head of UJIA - chooses to unburden himself of certain prejudices to which he has succumbed concerning the state of Israel, its government and the proceedings of its parliament, he runs certain risks.

More..

Perils of being on the guest-list

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 29, 2010

Asimchah always brings a modicum of tsores.

This truism is particularly true of weddings. How well do I remember that, in the months leading up to my own nuptials, my over-harassed parents and future in-laws were presented with potential guests phoning to say that they would never sit next to named other potential guests because of some broiges or other the details of which they could, however, not now recall.

More..

Israelis' avoidably poor state

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 18, 2010

Earlier this month, Israel's National Insurance Institute released its annual poverty report for 2009. It does not make for pleasant reading.

The institute has found that around 435,100 Israeli families - accounting for more than 1.75 million individuals - were then living below the poverty line.

More..

Kangaroo court of law society

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 11, 2010

Please accept my apologies for bothering you again with the deeds and misdeeds of the Russell Tribunal.

I know that some 20 months ago I summoned up the courage to trouble you with the antics of this entity, and
I entirely understand that, as busy people with livings to earn and loved ones to be cared for, you probably do not wish to be troubled again in the slightest with the frolics and capers of a body whose deliberations (if one can call them that) are frankly not worth the time of day. But trouble you I fear I must, for a reason that I will make clear.

More..

War Logs exposed a sad truth

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 4, 2010

Every cloud has at least one silver lining. Consider, for example, the recent international commotion occasioned by the release, on the WikiLeaks website, of the so-called Iraqi War Logs - around 400,000 documents relating to allied operations in Iraq from 2002 to 2009.

More..

Don't wear Tutu with blinkers

By Geoffrey Alderman, November 1, 2010

Earlier this month, on the occasion of his 79th birthday, Desmond Tutu, Anglican cleric and Nobel prize-winner, announced his retirement from public life. From all over the world, fitting encomia were showered down upon this turbulent priest, who made a name for himself in the 1980s as a fierce critic of the apartheid regime in which he had grown up, and later made another name for himself as the prime mover in the so-called truth-and-reconciliation movement that, some claim, has played a pivotal role in the transformation of South Africa into a peaceful, multicultural society.

More..

The university that censors

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 21, 2010

The annual Belfast Festival is the child of Queen's University, one of the UK's leading "research intensive" seats of learning. The festival grew out of an enterprising undergraduate initiative in the deeply troubled 1970s; it was - as its website rightly proclaims - "a cultural oasis in a landscape dominated by political upheaval."

It has - as its website also rightly proclaims - played a pivotal role in the cultural renaissance of the city and has attracted celebrities and intellectuals from around the world.

More..

Proud Jew Ed strong on Israel

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 14, 2010

Now that Ed Miliband has been elected as the first Jewish leader of the Labour Party, what does this tell us about Labour and its Jewish constituency?

What does Ed's acceptance speech at the party conference last month tell us about his approach to his Jewishness and how - if at all - it will shape his leadership of the party? I raise these questions because Ed himself went out of his way to raise them in that conference speech, which is one of the few party-conference addresses that I've bookmarked for future reference.

More..

No way to settle the conflict

By Geoffrey Alderman, October 7, 2010

The Palestinian Arab leadership is making a real song and dance about Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. But why? After all, these settlements are hardly at the root of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours and their Islamist sponsors.

More..

It is fine to sound off in shul

By Geoffrey Alderman, September 28, 2010

Hearing, and then reading of, the dramatic but cheerless story of the congregant who used the opportunity of a full house at the recent Rosh Hashanah evening service of an Orthodox synagogue in north-west London to publicly denounce a fellow male worshipper as an adulterer caused me to reflect on the appropriateness of a synagogue as a place in which such a grievance might legitimately be aired.

More..