December 13, 2020

As I write this blog post, we’re halfway through Hanukkah and the darkness remains. The major cause for all the gloom is Covid-19 and the havoc it’s caused around the world. As ever, the most vulnerable and least secure have been hit the hardest by the crisis. That’s certainly the case for Palestinians living on the West Bank and in Gaza. The Palestinian economy has taken a battering according to the latest report by the World Bank, while in Gaza… Read more

October 17, 2020

Dear Professor Schofield RE: The Secretary of State’s request that Lancaster University adopts the International Holocaust Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. I’m writing to you as a Jewish student studying at Lancaster University in the hope that you’ll resist the pressure being put on you by the government to adopt what I, and many other Jews in the UK and around the world, believe to be a flawed and deeply problematic document on antisemitism. First of all though, may I… Read more

September 18, 2020

Memories are short these days. There used to be a something called the ‘Occupation’ which left nearly three million Palestinians disenfranchised and disadvantaged. But that must have been long ago. There once was a siege of Gaza where two million Palestinians were cut off from the outside world, surviving in a collapsed economy. But no one talks about that now. In the past there was a place called East Jerusalem, which people knew had been illegally annexed and where Arab… Read more

July 26, 2020

Progressive rabbis in the UK have written to the Israeli embassy in London to express their concern over the Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank. The letter has been sent from British Friends of Rabbis for Human Rights, an organisation which supports the work of Rabbis for Human Rights working in Israel and the West Bank. It draws its members from both Progressive (Reform and Liberal) as well as Masorti and Orthodox rabbis. However, the forty… Read more

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

Browse Our Archives