David Aaronovitch

Idling and ignorant in Italy

By David Aaronovitch, September 7, 2010

I write in a state of Jewlessness. In this small, southern seaside resort at the fag-end of the Italian national holiday season, there have been no Jews visible for over a week.

We are not talking here just about no bearded, hatted, kippah-ed, sidelocked, bewigged and Volvoed Jews. That can sometimes happen in parts of London.


Rich Desmond's white paper

By David Aaronovitch, July 28, 2010

Some people will no doubt see the hidden hand of International Jewry behind Richard Desmond's purchase of Channel 5 this week. They will be updating Nick Griffin's old list of media bagel-eaters, and quite conceivably putting this particular ownership at the very top - especially now that Michael Grade has laid down the burden assigned to him by the Elders back in the day.


A Rose is a Rose is a Rose is etc

By David Aaronovitch, June 17, 2010

On the second leg of a train trip to Kiev, I began to think on the proposition that where you say something matters as much, if not more than, what you say.

The provocateuse was Professor Jacqueline Rose, whose very, very long article in the London Review of Books I was reading. Her piece - "J'accuse. Dreyfus in our times" - purports to examine what might be learned from the late 19th-century case of the Jewish officer in the French army, falsely convicted of treason and transported, and the subsequent scandal.


Shock news: S&M link to Tories

By David Aaronovitch, May 6, 2010

A writer's life is a happy life, except in one circumstance. That is, as this week, when the lambent flow of phrases, sentences and paragraphs have to be created in advance of a life-changing event but will generally be consumed after it. I write before the election; you are probably reading this when the result is known.


Bibi is wrong, Obama is right

By David Aaronovitch, March 25, 2010

As a general proposition, the following is true: democrats around the world prosper when an American president succeeds. The strengthening of Barack Obama as a consequence of his victory on health care reform, for example, will help him almost as much in Afghanistan as in Arkansas.

So we should badly want him to win. How strange then, in the wake of the administration's recent falling-out with the Israeli government, to find usually level-headed Jews taking the side of the right-wing coalition in Jerusalem, rather than that of the leader of the free world.


Analysis: Gaza protesters might be 'angry' but they're still guilty

By David Aaronovitch, March 4, 2010

In January 2009 someone sent me a link to footage taken at one of the Gaza protests in London. Taken by a demonstrator, and 10 minutes long, it showed a thin cordon of policemen being, in effect, chased from the edge of Trafalgar Square to the Hyde Park end of Piccadilly.

For the entire distance, men with faces covered were throwing traffic cones, sticks and anything that came to hand at the retreating officers, while shouting "Run, you f**** cowards!" The only time this mantra changed was when the police, briefly, put up a fight, when the shout became "you racist bastards!"


The politics of disinvitation

By David Aaronovitch, February 11, 2010

There ought to be an addition to the books of etiquette on the subject of disinvitation. Invitation we know all about.


Me and my propaganda pals

By David Aaronovitch, December 30, 2009

On the Monday morning, I found out I’d been libelled by the Independent on Sunday. It was in one of those media gossip columns that proliferate these days because you can get cheap, young journalists to write pages of stuff without the expense of leaving the office.


We're an invention? Prove it

By David Aaronovitch, November 19, 2009

Beware of scholars with agendas. When the modern historian, Tony Judt, described The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand as being remarkable, cool, scholarly and vital for anyone “interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East”, was it because he had genuinely been able to assess Sand’s assertions about the historiography of the Jews, or because it resonated with his view that a “self-serving and mostly imaginary Jewish past (had) done so much to provoke conflict in the present”?


How can we trust Kaminski?

By David Aaronovitch, October 15, 2009

Could I have been one of the “Eurofanatics” who was only raising the Kaminski case (as I did in The Times a fortnight ago) in order to embarrass the Conservative Party?

The editor of the JC would seem to think so, since he admitted no other category of critic in his pugnacious assault on the “smear tactic” used against Mr K, who turns out to be a friend of the Jews (or Israel, which is held to mean the same thing).


I spent two weeks in the same pants

By David Aaronovitch, October 8, 2009

Long, long ago, in the days before laptops and iPhones — well, just about exactly 36 years ago — I was driven by a Cypriot Stalinist up the new M40 to begin my short career at Balliol College, Oxford. My trunk followed by rail — except that it didn’t. I spent a fortnight in the same underwear.

Oh the disasters! The bathrooms were so cold you had to undress in the steam. I couldn’t organise a gown so missed matriculation. Hated Jacob Burckhardt so failed German prelims. Got into the politics so much that I missed everything else.


How to insult successfully

By David Aaronovitch, September 9, 2009

The other week I appeared in a documentary on US TV which, among other things, demolished some of the conspiracy theorists’ cherished notions of how Bush brought down the twin towers eight years ago today. My role was to explain how otherwise sane people believed insane things. Soon the emails started to arrive. Let me take two to stand for the rest.


The ironies of hating oneself

By David Aaronovitch, August 6, 2009

I was faffing around in the end of the 19th century, for reasons connected with another project, when I came across the name of Otto Weininger. Some readers will already know of the young Viennese Jew who converted to Christianity in 1902, published the book Sex and Character in the summer of 1903, and killed himself four months later, but I hadn’t encountered him before.

To modern ears, the striking thing about Weininger is not his pseudo-scientific stance on sexuality — that was common to his period, and is not unknown today.


What a daft idea for a boycott

By David Aaronovitch, July 2, 2009

There’s a letter for me waiting at The Times today. “Dave, how’s this for a conspiracy?” scrawls an H. Mullin on the blank side of a piece of paper. On the other side is a photocopy of page 5 of some indeterminate publication featuring an article by a Harry Mullin. The piece concerns the supposed landing in Scotland “a few years ago” of submarine-borne Israeli agents bent on the extermination of Mr Mullin’s pals in the British Anti Zionist Organisation, and on the execution of PLO representative in London Said Hammami.


Gay soldiers, a rabbi and Mr X

By David Aaronovitch, May 28, 2009

There is a secret life of headlines. Most of the specific complaints that are ever made to me about what I write have something to do with what I didn’t write: the headline. A large amount of what people imagine they read in my columns exists in the headlines, and not in my copy. And so it is with news stories, too.

Of course, the headline above this column, which I haven’t read and can hardly imagine, will be impeccable. But elsewhere?


Gilad Atzmon's discordant notes

By David Aaronovitch, April 23, 2009

Here’s a story in which I take no pleasure. Some time ago, I was asked to participate in a “debate” on antisemitism at a respectable literary festival. The other speakers were to be Denis MacShane MP and the radical Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe. Though the debate’s topic was unclear, with a book due to be published on conspiracy theories, I happily agreed.


Moussawi or Wilders, in or out?

By David Aaronovitch, March 19, 2009

For the purposes of this column, I remember two things about that period towards the end of the Dark Ages when I was president of the National Union of Students. The first is the pestering we got in those days from UJS on the subject of Soviet Jewry. So much so that I began to believe that either almost all Soviets were Jews, or else that almost all Jews were Soviet.


Israeli fatalism may be fatal

By David Aaronovitch, February 12, 2009

So, Israel picks up and starts again, further back than it was before. We can talk a bit, if we like, about the toytown election system, which turns voters into adolescents who expect their exact political view of the moment to be represented in their choice, rather than making the adult compromise — the necessary decision between several less-than-ideal coalitions — themselves. Israel is a land desperately in need of leadership, where the mechanism for electing governments makes it almost impossible to lead. Except when there’s a war to be fought.


The BNP respectable? Hmmm

By David Aaronovitch, January 8, 2009

I begin the goyishe new year with the shattering observation that people are odd. If we are very unlucky, we might find out in the next 12 months just how odd. This generalisation is attached to a story, of sorts. About a month ago, following the leak of the membership lists of the British National Party, I wrote in The Times that respectability would always be denied to an organisation that contained, at its core, a collection of genuine antisemites and equally authentic criminals and convicts.


Gethsemane’s stereotype Jew

By David Aaronovitch, December 4, 2008

This is a strange one, this row about Sir David Hare’s Gethsemane and the Jewishness or otherwise of its devilish (though charming) character, Otto Fallon. I think the saga, with its attendant accusations of antisemitism, is telling us something, but what on earth is it?