Watson Israel 

Vindictive punishment of James Watson

James Watson was one of the Nobel prizewinning team that discovered the double helix structure of DNA in 1953. Now the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory he ran in New York has revoked all his titles and honours on account of his “reprehensible” comments about race and intelligence. The move leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. There’s no question but that Watson, described as perhaps the most influential biologist of the second half of the last century, has expressed some dubious and unacceptable views. He has suggested that fat people…

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Israel USA 

Two national leaders: two TV addresses to fire up their base

Last Monday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on TV to make what was billed in advance as a “dramatic announcement.” Reacting to rumors that Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, might announce during Israel’s general election campaign an indictment against him on the three corruption cases under investigation, he declared that this would be unjust, and that he hadn’t been allowed to confront the three state’s witnesses in the investigations against him despite asking twice to do so. “How can you get to the essence of the truth if…

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fashion Israel 

Once again into the fray in TV’s gladiatorial circus

I did two TV appearances in one day yesterday – the first on the BBC’s daily Politics Live, and the second on the BBC’s flagship political debate show, Question Time. It was the first edition of Question Time with Fiona Bruce in the chair after the retirement of its venerable anchor David Dimbleby who had become something of a national institution. So it was a show that attracted much attention and considerable comment in today’s newspapers. All eyes were on Fiona and whether she could fill Dimbleby’s patrician shoes. You…

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murder Israel 

The terrorist murder of Aisha Rabi

As the result of an Israeli gagging order being partially lifted, it has been revealed that five Jewish teenagers from a yeshiva in the disputed territories have been accused of the murder of a Palestinian woman, Aisha Rabi. This was a heinous and appalling crime. Rabi, the mother of nine children, was killed last October when a rock was hurled at her car. Lawyers for the five teenagers claim that the Israeli security service, the Shin Bet, used torture and ill-treatment against the boys who the lawyers say are innocent…

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Labour party antisemitism Britain Israel 

How western humbug gives antisemitism a free pass

A few days ago, I wrote about antisemitism in the Labour party following the rough ride given to shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry when she spoke at Limmud. I suggested that those who, like Thornberry, were concerned about the egregious examples of antisemitism in their party were nevertheless unable to face an inconvenient truth. This was that the bigotry against Jews which so horrified them was symbiotically connected to the commitment throughout progressive circles to the Palestinian cause, whose foundation, activities and goals are defined by virulent, murderous Jew-hatred. In response,…

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crazy world Israel 

Our crazy world: US Syria pullout, EU antisemitism survey

Please join me here as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Unwired some major events of the past few days in our crazy world. We consider the implications of President Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, the ramifications of which are more complex than might be imagined from the shallow mainstream media accounts. You can also read my take on what really matters about America’s approach to Syria and Iran here. We also talk about the recent EU survey of perceptions by Jewish communities in Britain and…

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synchronised Israel 

The elephants of antisemitism in the European room

The latest report by the EU’s agency on fundamental rights which finds antisemitism on the rise across Europe should be treated with some caution. This is because it deals not with objective measures of the rate of attacks on Jews but with the views of Jews themselves about the extent of antisemitism. Such views are inevitably limited in accuracy and scope. It is beyond any doubt, however, that the perception of increased antisemitism is widespread among the Jews of Britain and Europe. It is also beyond doubt that there is…

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Israel 

Australia’s boomerang knocks diaspora Jews off balance too

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison thought he was sending a bouquet to Israel. It turned into a boomerang. Two months ago, Morrison raised hopes of moving the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv when he said he was “open-minded” after President Donald Trump moved the US Embassy and recognized Israel’s capital. Last week, however, Morrison announced that Australia would merely establish a defense and trade office in Jerusalem and would move the embassy only after a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. More explosively, he said he recognized…

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Grenfell Israel 

Grenfell inquiry delay is cruel but necessary

At first blush, the decision to delay the second phase of hearings in the Grenfell Tower inquiry by at least a year seems preposterous. What on earth could justify that? Phase one of the inquiry, investigating what happened during the catastrophic fire in June 2017 that took the lives of 72 people, concluded last week. The chairman, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, says hearings in the second phase on why it happened won’t start until the end of next year at the earliest. Not surprisingly, this has caused consternation among the victims’…

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conservatism Culture wars Israel 

Is the State of Israel supping with the devil?

The visit to Israel this week by Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has provoked criticism and dismay within the Jewish world. Salvini, who heads Italy’s right-wing “populist” Lega party, is controversial because of his anti-immigration stance. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin declined to meet him, citing “scheduling issues.” Rivlin’s view of political parties such as Lega were made clear, however, when he told CNN that the whole world needed to work against xenophobia, discrimination and antisemitism. “There are neo-fascist movements today that have considerable and very dangerous influence, and sometimes…

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