JFK: A Breath of Fresh Air Stifled

‘His career was as brilliant and promising as it was meteoric and short-lived. His advent seemed to usher in a new era flashing a ray of hope to a darkened world. He faced the desperate problems of our age with courage, with youthful vigour, with profound understanding and deep sympathy for the underprivileged, the disinherited … Read more

On Ralph Miliband

Geoffrey Levy’s Daily Mail article seemed like a family affair — only Jews were the main protagonists — Ralph Miliband, Eric Hobsbawm, Harold Laski. Each grappled with their Jewishness and how to repair the world in dark times. Hobsbawm remained an unrepentant Stalinist, who, despite his Jewish origin, supported the Nazi-Soviet pact at a time … Read more

The Invention of the Jewish People

The Invention of the Jewish People, by Shlomo Sand. London: Verso, 2009. 332 pp. This book has been promoted as “an international bestseller” that demolishes all previous connotations of the Jews as a people. Shlomo Sand approvingly quotes the French historian, Marcel Detienne, “How can we denationalise national histories?”— and this seems to be the … Read more

One Night in Winter

Simon Sebag-Montefiore, One Night in Winter (Century 2013) pp456   Several years ago, when I read Simon Sebag-Montefiore’s books on Stalin, I had approached them with preconceived notions about such ‘popular’ works. I quickly realised how wrong I was and literally could not put them down. Sebag’s new novel, based in part on real events … Read more

Menachem Begin: 100 Years of Rectitude

Menachem Begin was born 100 years ago this week in Brest-Litovsk, a town at the nexus of several east European cultures. It belonged to the newly independent Poland during his formative years and Begin absorbed its customs and manners. Begin’s formality contrasted dramatically with his couldn’t-care-less Labour opponents in later years. Although he came from … Read more

Violence takes Israel in a Right Direction

Extremist firebrand Rabbi Meir Kahane embraced by supporters in 1984 (Photo: Getty images) The Triumph of Israel’s Radical Right By Ami Pedahzur Oxford University Press, £18.99 In 1969, 32 per cent of the Israeli electorate voted for the centre right and its allies. Forty years later, this had increased to more than 52 per cent, … Read more