Alex Brummer

Painting a distorted picture of the IDF

By Alex Brummer, September 17, 2009

One of the most enduring and inspiring images in the history of modern Israel is that of Rabbi Shlomo Goren, dressed in IDF military uniform, sounding the shofar at the Kotel in Jerusalem on its liberation in 1967.

Goren was IDF chief rabbi from 1948 to 1972, giving lie to the idea that religion in Israel’s army is something which began with Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in January.

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Jury out on whether Bernanke saved USA

By Alex Brummer, September 9, 2009

American presidents rarely gamble with the Federal Reserve Board, America’s central bank, and Barack Obama is no exception. So despite a strong Democratic claim to the job of chairman by Obama’s top economic adviser Lawrence Summers — scion of one of America’s most famous economic dynasties — “Helicopter” Ben Bernanke has been nominated to a second term in the most powerful job in global finance.

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Blood libel row merited Israeli outrage

By Alex Brummer, September 3, 2009

The row began as an item on the culture pages of Sweden’s best-selling newspaper Aftonbladet and ended as a diplomatic stalemate. It is significant because Sweden currently holds the presidency of the European Union.

On August 19, Donald Bostrom, a writer for the Swedish paper, ran a contentious report under the headline: “They plunder the organs of our sons.” The article claimed that young men from the West Bank and Gaza had been seized over the years by Israel Defence Forces and bodies returned to their families with missing organs.

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Pensions deficit will be close call for BT

By Alex Brummer, August 27, 2009

As chief executive of British Telecom, Ian Livingston is having a baptism of fire. The main focus of his first year in office has been cleaning up the mess at “global services” — the group’s growth business which foolishly underpriced communications contracts to big corporate and government clients.

Glasgow-born Livingston, 44, acted quickly to clear up that problem and put global services back on a sounder footing. He is now having to deal with an even bigger and more troublesome legacy — the group’s pension fund.

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This headline might be all you read

By Alex Brummer, August 20, 2009

The importance of headlines in framing the narrative of an event is critical. The only reason, for instance, that some people still believe that Israel was involved in a “massacre” at the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank in April 2002 is because the word appeared in a front-page Guardian headline.

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Bernanke: undoing what another Jew started?

By Alex Brummer, August 13, 2009

As Wall Street bankers and legislators headed to their yachts and the beaches of America’s east coast this August, they had the words of Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, ringing in their ears. Two years after the official beginning of the credit crunch on August 9, 2007, Mr Bernanke — America’s most powerful economic policymaker — signalled for the first time that the US central bank may soon have to think about removing the “punch bowl” of near-zero interest rates and easy credit.

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How Goldman Sachs came roaring back

By Alex Brummer, July 30, 2009

We have been around for 140 years, and intend to be here for another 140 years, a senior London-based Goldman Sachs banker informed me the other day. Amid the carnage among the global investment banks, Goldman has emerged from the credit crisis least damaged and most defiant.

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Media vultures seize on ‘brutality’ claims

By Alex Brummer, July 23, 2009

The relentless media challenge over the conduct of Israel’s January Gaza campaign continues apace. The latest bout of criticism stems from a report by the Israeli-based NGO Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shitka), a group which receives funding from the British, Spanish and Dutch governments, and collects testimony from veterans and serving IDF soldiers.

In its latest dossier, provided first to the Independent on July 15, it charges that Israeli soldiers were repeatedly encouraged to place their own safety above those of Palestinian civilians.

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Sir Philip's grand designs for Bhs

By Alex Brummer, July 16, 2009

At 57 years old and several billion pounds to the good, you might think that retail entrepreneur Sir Philip Green would be thinking of hanging up his boots. But the burly tycoon who five years ago was rebuffed in his effort to takeover Marks & Spencer is as restless and ambitious as ever.

Whereas many retailers are struggling to survive the slump, he is anxious to expand. Indeed, he is as ambitious now to take his retail empire to the next level as at any time since he took control of Bhs in 2000 and Arcadia — then run by his mate Stuart Rose — in 2002.

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Pressure group must keep up pressure

By Alex Brummer, July 9, 2009

The need for scrupulous monitoring of coverage of the core Middle East conflict in the British media has been evident since the outbreak of the second Intifada in autumn 2000. But it was not until the second Israel-Lebanon war in the summer of 2006 that a group of philanthropists and like-minded young professionals decided to move into the vacuum.

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Not just any broiges. An M&S broiges

By Alex Brummer, July 2, 2009

To mark the 125th anniversary of Marks & Spencer, executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose commissioned a glossy “coffee table” history, replete with accounts of the retailer’s innovations down the decades.

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For a media award, just ‘monitor’ Israel

By Alex Brummer, June 25, 2009

It is a tribute to Israel’s vibrant democracy that groups like B’Tselem, the Israeli NGO which monitors human rights abuses in the occupied territories, flourish. Reports from the group have dealt with issues including torture, fatal shootings by security forces, expropriation of land and discrimination in planning decisions in East Jerusalem, as well as house demolitions and violence by Israeli settlers.

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TV turmoil will take Sky to a new high

By Alex Brummer, June 18, 2009

I bumped into James Murdoch at a party recently and he was in chipper mood.

At a time when both the writing and broadcast media are struggling, as a result of an advertising famine, the UK arm of the Murdoch empire looks to be emerging stronger than ever.

Much of the recent success can be attributed to Murdoch the younger, the likely heir to Rupert Murdoch’s empire , who at the end of 2007 stepped up to become the chief executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia, and chairman of BritishSkyBroadcasting.

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Obama shows he really means business

By Alex Brummer, June 11, 2009

Amid the British media’s blanket coverage of the Labour Party’s disintegration, few other stories have broken on to the front pages or into leader columns. An exception was President Obama’s much-hyped Cairo address. This even managed to unify those papers which cast a very critical eye over Israel’s actions in the Middle East with those that tend to take a more balanced view.

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Now fat cats have to fight for the cream

By Alex Brummer, June 4, 2009

The backlash began with Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension. When shareholders learnt that the former Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive pension pot had been doubled to £16m, providing him with a pension of £703,000 for life at the age of 50, the public anger was palpable. The directors responsible — former RBS chairman Sir Tom McKillop and pay committee boss Bob Scott — were required to step down.

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Israel map row marks height of hypocrisy

By Alex Brummer, May 28, 2009

When it comes to the Middle East, nothing is more important than maps. When you visit the Israeli Foreign Ministry for a briefing on peace initiatives, officials unfurl large maps showing every possible outcome, including charts with neatly drawn corridors linking the West Bank to Gaza.

At the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Jerusalem, a presentation shows the proliferation of security barriers across the region, which it regards as an affront to peace.

As much of an affront is the fact that many of them are unmanned but still counted.

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When supermarkets are superpowers

By Alex Brummer, May 21, 2009

As a sector, Britain’s grocers are having a good recession. While other firms, including the food suppliers, have been shedding jobs, the supermarket chains Tesco, J Sainsbury, Wm Morrison, Asda and Waitrose have been adding them. And although Marks & Spencer has had to reshape “Simply Food”, jettisoning some of the stores it bought from Somerfield as a job lot, its executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose believes that its food offering has turned the corner, and that same-store sales — the critical measure for retailers — will soon be expanding again.

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Hastings’s case against Israel is flawed

By Alex Brummer, May 14, 2009

Max Hastings is among Britain’s most distinguished and honoured journalists and an exemplary military historian. His years as editor of the London Evening Standard look like a golden age, given what has followed.

He is now a prolific commentator writing regularly in my own paper, the Daily Mail, as well as the Guardian. Bridging the gap between these two very different titles might be regarded as an achievement in itself.

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Darling has betrayed entrepreneurs

By Alex Brummer, May 7, 2009

Alistair Darling’s April budget marked the end of New Labour. It was the party’s final divorce from the City.

Several of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, including Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP and David Levin of United Business Media, have already upped sticks and moved their enterprises to Ireland because of efforts by HM Revenue and Customs to capture a bigger share of foreign earnings. Others are lining up to go.

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Trusting the BBC just a little bit more

By Alex Brummer, April 30, 2009

There has been a great deal of triumphalism on the web and in print at the criticism levelled at BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen by the guardians of impartiality on the BBC Trust. Certainly, it is encouraging that the BBC Trust is taking its regulatory role more seriously.

In the pre-Hutton era, BBC governors saw their role as defending management and editorial from outside interference. Now it has shown it deals with complaints carefully and is determined to maintain journalistic standards.

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