Boris Britain Coronavirus Europe Israel 

The ghastly mirror-image of lethal group-think

In Britain, there are now insistent calls for the government to lay out its strategy for exiting the Covid-19 lockdown. Treat the public as adults, goes the cry; tell us the truth. Well, the truth which ministers are not telling is pretty unpalatable. For as in other countries, the government faces two brutal and appalling alternatives: destroying the economy or ending people’s lives. Yes, the lockdown is doing terrible damage to the economy and if it goes on for much longer some of that damage at least may well be…

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HRH Israel 

From San Remo to 72nd birthday, Israel displays rare and robust resilience

One hundred years ago this Sunday, the four principal allied powers involved in World War I signed a resolution at San Remo. Next week, Israel celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut, the 72nd anniversary of the state’s declaration of independence. Typically, the world thinks that the key step towards the establishment of the State of Israel was the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the statement in which the British government committed itself to work for the establishment of a Jewish home in what was then called Palestine. Relatively little attention has been paid to the…

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Israel 

For Israel, recognising another enemy is second nature

Among the world’s populous democracies fighting the coronavirus, Israel has so far been by far the most successful. With a population of about 8.6 million, it had recorded at time of writing 33 deaths from COVID-19. The Deep Knowledge Group, a consortium of technology and analytics organizations, has ranked it in the fight against the virus as the safest country in the world. While Israel’s death toll is continuing to edge up, the country has contained the epidemic better than Britain, America or the stricken nations of Western Europe. Britain,…

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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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