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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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 Audio Global conflict USA Videos 

Moral responsibility in the time of pandemic

I was very struck by observations about the coronavirus pandemic made this week by the former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, on both BBC Radio’s Moral Maze and BBC TV’s Newsnight. What was so arresting was his optimism about the long-term effects of this global emergency on people’s behaviour. He repeated more than once that the crisis was encouraging the best out of people, that it was bringing us together, that it was eliciting innumerable acts of kindness which would continue to multiply, and that when it was all over we…

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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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