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

January 9, 2019

Two issues have dominated the UK over the last twelve months: Brexit and antisemitism in the Labour Party. The politics of both debates turn out to have much in common. Conflicting national narratives; opposing notions of self-determination; a complex question presented as having a simple solution; a lack of civility in public debate; the use of fear tactics; and the demonisation of opponents. In short, both issues have created plenty of heat but not much light. The Brexit and antisemitism… Read more

November 25, 2018

Last week Quakers in Britain became the first Christian denomination in the U.K. to adopt a responsible investment policy towards the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land. It was the first denomination but I doubt it will be the last. Within hours of the announcement, the Board of Deputies, the body which asserts its right to represent Jewish interests in Britain, had issued a statement of rebuke from its President, Marie van der Zyl. In a few short paragraphs, van de… Read more

October 18, 2018

“No religion is an island” – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, November 1965 Dear Archbishop Justin and Chief Rabbi Mirvis You sat down together in the rabbi’s home in north London just before the Jewish new year. You drank tea and you talked about antisemitism. A few days later, the Church of England’s Bishops’ Conference in Oxford adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism and the 11 illustrations attached to it. Your meeting, and the actions that followed, told us much about… Read more

September 6, 2018

There are lots of good reasons to think the IHRA document, now adopted “in full” by Labour’s NEC and by Labour MPs, is, well, a bit rubbish. • The actual definition of antisemitism is not up to much • The illustrations are a legal mess • It appears to be having no impact on antisemitism in the (few) countries which have endorsed it • And it’s already being used to prevent open debate on university campuses A recent article by… Read more

September 2, 2018

Earlier this week Rabbi Jonathan Sacks made himself look foolish, tarnishing his worldwide reputation as a man of considerable Jewish learning and wisdom by making outlandish criticism of the Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn. This morning, on the BBC Andrew Marr Show, he did it again: “He [Corbyn] implies the majority of British Jews are essentially alien to British culture…he is as great a danger as Enoch Powell.” For younger readers and those less familiar with U.K. political history, Enoch… Read more

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