Coronavirus Britain Coronavirus 

“How has it come to this” indeed. But now Boris must keep his nerve

This week, when Boris Johnson made his first appearance at prime minister’s questions since he nearly died from Covid-19, the new Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, got the better of him. It wasn’t just that the absence of the usual braying mobs of backbenchers played to Starmer’s strengths as a calm, relentless and well-briefed advocate. It was that the questions he asked with such deadly and polite quietness were unanswerable. With the UK’s virus death toll then standing at more than 29,000, Starmer asked: “How has it come to this?”…

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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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Pope Culture wars 

Is the Pope a pagan?

The observations by Pope Francis on the coronavirus pandemic published in The Tablet are startling. They reveal with unusual sharpness just what kind of person currently heads the Catholic church. Asked whether the economic devastation wrought by the virus was a chance for an ecological conversion by reassessing priorities and lifestyles, the Pope replied: “There is an expression in Spanish: ‘God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives.’ We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that 18…

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Passover Jewish people 

The story Jews repeat on Passover is the secret of their survival

As Jews around the world celebrate the festival of Passover this week, the ironies are painful. The festival celebrates the pivotal biblical event that followed Pharaoh’s refusal to free his Hebrew slaves. The last and most terrible of the 10 plagues inflicted as punishment upon the Egyptians, the death of the firstborn in every family, passed over the houses of the Hebrews who then left Egypt for freedom and their destiny as a Jewish nation. Today, of course, the plague of the coronavirus has not passed over the Jewish people—a…

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Cina coronavirus Coronavirus Global conflict 

West can no longer turn a blind eye to China

The coronavirus pandemic is the direct outcome of appalling behaviour by the Chinese communist regime. Yesterday, the Commons foreign affairs committee reported that the fight against the virus has been hampered by China’s lies. The committee’s chairman, Tom Tugendhat, said China had “manipulated vital information about the virus in order to protect the regime’s image”. Despite all this, it has been posing as a humanitarian superpower by sending medical supplies to desperate countries. Britain is accordingly importing from China ventilators and virus test kits. But will they work? Numerous countries…

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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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Britain Culture wars 

Why so many “experts” make such disastrous errors

If you want to discover why so many of our experts are getting things so terribly wrong, Giles Fraser’s interview on Unherd’s “Confessions” with the former Bank of England governor, Lord King, is essential listening. King asks what it means to be rational in an age of deep uncertainty. Many experts, he says, have come to believe that mathematical calculations and computer modelling provide us with an authoritative representation of reality. This is hopelessly wrong because such calculations can never encompass the uncertainties that help form human behaviour. Yet these…

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novel Britain 

Escape the lockdown with a gripping novel

Reading a good novel oxygenates the psyche. It’s an excursion from everyday experience into a different reality that leaves you refreshed and better able to cope with life. At a time of acute stress like this, such novels come into their own. Anne Enright’s Actress, published last month, is one such gem. I read it with gratitude recently when locked-down alone through Covid-19 restrictions and prevented from even venturing outside my front door. Novels touch us most deeply where we can identify with emotional truths. People’s relationships are often ambiguous…

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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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