Isis’s promise of certainty is what lures the likes of Mohammed Emwazi

Maybe it was the goalpost that did it. In his last year of primary school, Mohammed Emwazi, the Kuwaiti-born Londoner exposed this week as the man behind the mask of “Jihadi John”, ran headlong into a metal post and was knocked out cold. “We didn’t see him for six weeks,” an old school friend recalled on a radio phone-in, wondering if that event was the turning point. “He was not the same ever since that brain injury. I am telling you, one million per cent: he was not the same.”

Published by: The Guardian

Leaders should calm fears

So now we understand how terrorism works. The clue is in the name. Its purpose is to spread terror - and the grim truth is, it's working. Right now, very many Jews are terrified. I know it from my own conversations. After Paris and Copenhagen - after B...

Published by: The Jewish Chronicle

Israelis have a chance to dump Netanyahu. I fear they won’t seize it

One of the few things most world leaders, and doubtless much of world opinion, can agree on is that they’d like to see the back of Binyamin Netanyahu. The iciness of the relationship between Israel’s prime minister and Barack Obama turned to permafrost long ago, but even Bibi’s fellow rightists find him unbearable. Note the unguarded remarks of Nicolas Sarkozy picked up by an open mic in 2011: “I cannot stand him. He’s a liar,” the then French president confided to his US counterpart. “You’re fed up with him?” said Obama. “I have to deal with him every day.”

Published by: The Guardian

This pre-election jockeying could threaten the United Kingdom itself

Consider it an advance on Punch and Judy politics: British electoral combat has ascended from the level of the kindergarten to that of the teenage playground. Ahead of 7 May, the UK’s political parties have taken to running about saying who likes who, who’s been seen holding hands, and who will absolutely never be friends ever, ever, ever. The main Conservative theme of the week came in a poster whose message can be broadly distilled as: “Ugh, don’t touch him. He’s best friends with those two!”

Published by: The Guardian

Auschwitz 70 years on: a different place, yet memories of its horror endure

They had come back, some three hundred of them, but this was not the Planet Auschwitz they remembered. The Auschwitz of their memories was a place where the rules of normal life were upended, where the moral laws of gravity were reversed, where good was deemed evil and evil deemed good – a place scholars came to speak of as an alien planet. One even writes of “the Auschwitz universe”.

Published by: The Guardian

Paris attacks: in this debate fear is the factor that dare not speak its name

In the debate that has been raging these last 10 days, fear is the factor that dare not speak its name. In the public sphere, the discussion following the Paris killings has been intense, wrestling with questions of philosophy and principle, especially the rights, responsibilities and inconsistencies of free speech. But in the private sphere the conversation has been quieter and more anguished. It has grappled above all with a sentiment that few voice with pride: namely, their own terror.

Published by: The Guardian

Charlie Hebdo: first they came for the cartoonists, then they came for the Jews

When terror strikes, we all become mind-readers. With no words to accompany the violence, it’s left to us to supply the motive. We insert our own guess, ventriloquising the killers who remain enigmatically mute. It happened again this week, following the slaying of 12 people at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine with little more than an “Allahu Akbar” to go on. They hated the cartoons, we say. Free speech was the target, we declare. They wanted to silence satire and gag dissent.

Published by: The Guardian

Israel’s threat from within

The spring of 2015 will bring an election that features not just the traditional battle of left and right but a tangled contest of smaller parties, all jostling for seats and for a strong hand in the inevitable coalition horse-trading that will follow.

Published by: The Jewish Chronicle