September 3, 2019

My father passed away last week, aged 93, after a short illness. I reached his bedside too late to be with him in his final moments. But with two of our children, Evie and Solomon, alongside me, we were able to say Kaddish (the Jewish memorial prayer), read aloud the traditional psalms for the departed, and say the Shema (the central prayer of Jewish monotheistic devotion). Most importantly, I kissed his forehead and said ‘thank you’ many times for all… Read more

August 1, 2019

We were 38 minutes into a live 45 minute BBC radio debate on antisemitism when the UK’s leading pro-Israel polemicist and regular Times and Jewish Chronicle columnist, Melanie Phillips, gave me the endorsement quote which will now be appearing on all of my future publicity materials: “Robert Cohen is genuinely motivated by good ideals” Melanie Phillips, Speaking on BBC Radio 4 ‘The Moral Maze’, 24 July 2019. Such is the power of selective quotations! But since I want to be… Read more

June 21, 2019

If anyone tries to tell you that adopting the IHRA document on antisemitism does not stifle free speech, or prevent Palestinian solidarity, or wrongly accuse people of racism – then show them this case study. If you want to understand how Israel/Palestine eats away at an honest Jewish-Christian dialogue, then tell them what’s gone on at Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire. If you worry that the meaning of antisemitism is being muddied and misused, then share the story of Jane Henson…. Read more

May 14, 2019

The broadcasting companies have refused to heed the call. The contestants from 42 countries have ignored the petitions. Madonna is flying in. Millions around the world have been made aware for the first time that all is not well in the Holy Land if you’re a Palestinian. But despite the global campaign, the final of the 64th Eurovision Song Contest, the world’s largest live music event, is going ahead in Tel Aviv this Saturday (18 May). So now it’s down… Read more

May 9, 2019

“How can Anti-Zionism be the new antisemitism?” asks Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his latest six minute whiteboard animation. You can view here.   And here’s the full transcript. To remind you, Sacks is the ultimate Jewish establishment figure. He was Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth from 1991-2013; he was made a member of the British House of Lords in 2009; he’s the author of more than 25 books on Judaism such as To Heal a Fractured World,… Read more

April 18, 2019

Tonight (Friday 19th April) I’ll be celebrating the Jewish festival of Passover with my family. We’ll do it in our own way, using our own home-curated Haggadah which draws on some radical and contemporary Jewish thought to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt and give it modern meaning and relevance. The traditional Passover service commands us to think as if we ourselves had left ancient Egypt. We are right there witnessing the ten plagues. We are personally liberated… Read more

April 6, 2019

Dear Professor Lipstadt, Your new book ‘Antisemitism Here and Now’ has much to recommend it. You bring your considerable authority as a scholar of the Holocaust and Holocaust denial to today’s increasingly intolerant, divided and racist world. With nuance, you examine the global resurgence of antisemitism on the right and the left and within Islamist thinking. You examine ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ examples of Holocaust denial and the casual, unthinking antisemitism that enables the more dangerous varieties. But when your turn… Read more

March 10, 2019

Christian-Jewish interfaith dialogue is looking ever more morally compromised when it comes to Israel/Palestine. When you look at the context, it’s hardly surprising. On the Christian side, there’s the fear of damaging the trust and friendship built up between Jews and Christians over the last 70 years of historic post Holocaust encounter. While on my Jewish side of the conversation, we’re faced with an even greater dilemma: the narrow politicisation of Judaism itself which has skewed our moral compass. Christian… Read more

March 4, 2019

A new documentary ‘WitchHunt’ about the long running accusations of antisemitism in the British Labour Party was due to be shown in the House of Commons this week (4 March). The screening was cancelled after protests that the film itself contributes to the very antisemitism it sets out to explore. Since the film has only been shown in a handful of public venues around the country, it’s unlikely that those who demanded the Common’s cancellation have actually seen it. That’s a pity, because having… Read more

February 2, 2019

I’ve been called many things over the years for daring to speak out for Palestinian rights and for supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to promote a truly democratic Israel/Palestine. But this week I was able to add something new to the list of insults. I am officially, thanks to the North West Friends of Israel Twitter account, a “Champagne Boycotter”. Do Palwin make champagne? I need to check.— WritingFromTheEdge (@RobertCohen2) January 31, 2019 A “Champagne Boycotter”, as the… Read more

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