Culture wars Global conflict Israel 

How the virus exposes magical thinking and short-term greed

The coronavirus emergency has affected virtually the entire world. In the west, it has brutally exposed the effects of a cultural characteristic that is as amoral as it is self-destructive. There is a refusal to face reality and the difficult choices it often requires, taking refuge instead in magical thinking and short-term greed. It’s a characteristic that has made victims of Israel and the Jews, along with many other people. In the current crisis, the west is paying the price of pretending that China’s communist regime does not represent a…

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appearance Israel 

Self-isolating in the moral maze

On this week’s edition of BBC Radio’s Moral Maze – the last in the current series – we discussed the desirability and effects of the strategy of social isolation imposed to combat the coronavirus crisis. Never has there been such an identification of form with content! For the show was put on with all nine contributors – four panellists, four witnesses and one chairman – not in the studio as usual but participating remotely down nine separate lines. For a show which depends so much on eye-balling each other round…

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Coronavirus Britain Israel 

Israel’s lockdown can be a model for Britain

For the past 12 days I have been under effective house arrest in Jerusalem. That’s because, just over two weeks ago, Israel started requiring everyone arriving in the country, even if they were citizens, to self-isolate for 14 days. Now all foreign visitors with no place of permanent residence are banned. My husband joined me in isolation at our place here a week ago. When I emerge into the world again this week I will be allowed out only for a limited range of activities such as obtaining essential food…

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Coronavirus Britain Israel 

In the coronavirus debate, one striking omission

In Britain, the government is being criticised over its strategy for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Its critics claim that it is not doing enough to produce “social distance” by restricting public contact. They point to other countries which have imposed much more draconian policies such as banning large public meetings or shutting schools. The former health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who has said he finds the government’s approach “surprising and concerning’, expressed particular surprise  “that we’re still allowing external visits to care homes”. In response, the government’s scientific advisers say…

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Iran Britain Global conflict Israel USA 

Will a microbe seal the fate of Iran’s virulent regime?

The point about events that catch us unawares is that we are never prepared for the unexpected to happen. Who would have thought that the entire world would suddenly be destabilized by one microbe? It will take some time before people grasp the likely social, political and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But it is already altering the landscape and knocking previous assumptions off-course. Until a few days ago, attention in the United States was focused on whether the Democrats could find a plausible candidate to beat President Donald…

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Britain Israel USA 

The real centre ground: the only political show in town

Democracy, the process through which the people get to choose who governs them, involves a choice of leaders telling competing stories about how the world should be organized. A healthy society, we have told ourselves, involves regularly changing those leaders and their stories to provide the checks and balances essential to avoid the dangers inherent in one-party rule. In Israel, the United States and Britain, that process has stalled. The reason is that, in all three countries as elsewhere in the west, the story offered by the progressive side of…

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antisemitism Israel Jewish people 

Denying their parent and embracing their assassin

The Church of England has once again been performing the ritual that has been enacted by progressive protestant churches in the West for decades: liberal self-flagellation. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said this week that he was ashamed of the Anglican attitude to black people, and declared that the church was “deeply, institutionally racist.” So ashamed was he of having previously been unaware of his “white privileges and advantages,” he even compared the behavior of the church to the way the German people allowed the Nazis to persecute the…

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Israel 

Arabs in uproar – over the prospect of living in Palestine

Leave aside, for the moment, the deepening rows about U.S. President Donald Trump’s “vision” for ending the Middle East conflict. Leave aside the question whether the plan’s lead author, Jared Kushner, and the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, backtracked on an “immediate” Israeli declaration of sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the “Triangle” of disputed territory (they didn’t; the need to first map out and agree on the details was stated from the start). Leave aside the uproar among Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, along with certain southern…

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conservatism Israel 

The Palestinians’ bluff has been called. Over to you, world

U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East “deal of the century” offers the Palestinians a state. They have rejected it and threatened instead to ramp up violence against Israel. No one can be surprised. They have rejected every offer of a state previously made to them in 1937, 1947, 2000, 2008 and 2014. So is this latest deal anything more than Groundhog Day for the Middle East all over again? Yes, because this isn’t a deal. It’s an ultimatum. Israel intends to enact its part in the plan unilaterally by declaring…

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Boris Johnson Hanukkah message Britain Israel 

A Boris bear-hug against British antisemitism

Is the British government beginning to change its century-old attitude of ambiguity towards Israel and come out instead as its unequivocal friend? Don’t get too excited just yet. It’s certainly true that, fresh from his thumping election victory, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered an extraordinary Hanukkah message to the country’s antisemitism-beleaguered Jewish community. Going far beyond predictable seasonal bromides, he delivered a very pointed profession of heartfelt support. The festival of lights, he said, was a time to celebrate the Jews’ unique identity. “When the Maccabees drove the forces…

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