July 1, 2020

The July 1st deadline has come and gone, and annexation hasn’t arrived. But don’t celebrate yet. It’s delayed not cancelled. The Trump White House is divided on the details; the international protest is stronger than expected; and Israel has a renewed coronavirus crisis that ought to be getting its government’s full attention. But with Donald Trump’s polling numbers in the US tumbling and rumours that he may even drop out of the November election if he thinks he can’t win,… Read more

June 6, 2020

If you can’t make the connections, it’s best to keep quiet. If you can’t see how your own views on related matters may defeat your credibility, then say nothing. If you think someone else is being racist but you’re only concerned about security, you need to do some serious study and a bit of self-reflection. Otherwise, you end up looking disingenuous, or foolish, or both. I’m afraid that’s what happened this week as Jewish leaders and community bodies in the… Read more

May 17, 2020

“As the Board of Deputies represents the views and interests of the UK Jewish community, and as, in the main, this a Zionist community, our interests with the Israeli government overlap. However, there are some specific issues, and this is certainly one, where there is wide diversity of views and we need to hold different parts of our community together.” Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 3rd May 2020 Dear Marie, I get… Read more

April 18, 2020

The last blog post I published was sent from a world which no longer exists. It was written in a pre-Covid, pre-lock-down’ United Kingdom, composed in a place we now call ‘normal times’. It was a review of a theatre play in London’s West End, which itself feels wildly bizarre.  There I was sitting inches away from strangers for two hours. Such crazy times, in those far off days. I’ve found it hard to write about Covid-19 for this blog…. Read more

February 22, 2020

This week I went to see Sir Tom Stoppard’s new play Leopoldstadt, which opened in London’s West End earlier this month. It’s a big play in every sense. Its large cast plays an extended Viennese family across three generations and half a century of deteriorating Jewish history. It’s profoundly moving, especially in its final scenes, and shows the impossibility of escaping the consequences of Jewish identity, however hard you might try. But what struck me most was Stoppard’s treatment of… Read more

January 26, 2020

As I become older I realise that the Holocaust is not over. The gas chambers and incinerators are gone but the consequences of the horror will continue to play out in the decades and even centuries to come. Our understanding of who we are as Jews, our place in the world, our politics, how others view us, even our theology, continues to be shaped, indeed defined, by the Holocaust. Why would it be otherwise? Just as with earlier major turning… Read more

December 21, 2019

For some in the Jewish community, the defeat of the Labour Party in the UK General Election will look like a ‘job well done’ in tackling  antisemitism in this country. But as we enter the ‘Age of Boris’, the opposite feels a more accurate conclusion to draw. Let me explain my increasing exasperation at how antisemitism is being understood and addressed. Crushing antisemites In general, it’s best not to over-claim your successes in the fight against antisemitism. But perhaps modesty… Read more

December 7, 2019

“If we leave our echo-chambers and make a conscious effort to listen to people and ideas we disagree with it will help us understand where others are coming from in this election period, even though we may disagree vehemently.” General Election statement from Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby & Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, November 2019 Dear Archbishop Justin, May I offer you my warmest greetings in this time of Advent and as we approach the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. We… Read more

November 28, 2019

Dear Chief Rabbi Mirvis As you say in your article in The Times this week (Tuesday 26 November), “Convention dictates that the Chief Rabbi stays well away from party politics – and rightly so.” But rather than stay “well away”, you’ve chosen to make a major intervention that attempts to turn the UK’s General Election into a national referendum on the Labour Party’s handling of antisemitism. And (deliberately, ironically, and perversely) you chose make your accusations on the very day on… Read more

November 13, 2019

I’ve been told to fear the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. I’ve been warned that the Labour Party leader is antisemitic. And, according to a new poll, nearly half of British Jews are considering leaving the country if Labour wins the General Election on December 12th. Despite the doomsday picture being painted for British Jews, I’m not fearful of Corbyn or the possibility of him reaching 10 Downing Street. Nor do I believe that the Labour Party is “poisoned”… Read more

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