My week in writing

This week was our Rosh Hashanah issue, a bumper edition for the New Year.

I spent part of the week working on a follow-up to the story broken by my former colleague Jessica Elgot last year, about the historic approach to the burial of stillborn babies by synagogue authorities.

A year on, it was wonderful to find out how attitudes have changed and see first-hand that parents have been able to erect memorials after discovering the truth of where their children were buried. It is still unspeakably heartbreaking to see rows of graves for babies who never got a chance to live, but it is undoubtedly right that the families can mark those they lost in this way.

This week I also wrote about the MPs using the legacy of the Iraq war to draw conclusions about the Iranian threat, a boost to scientific collaboration between Britain and Israel and the decision to honour the founder of the Paralympic Games by naming a medical clinic in the Olympic Village after him. When I interviewed Sir Ludwig Guttmann’s daughter earlier this summer, she told me how proud her father would have been to see his dream realised in the city where it all began. If there is one (non-athletic) legacy of London hosting the Games, it is that the phenomenal story of a refugee who changed so many lives has been widely acknowledged.

I blogged about conspiracy theories, Mossad and the tragic Al-Hilli murder, concluding that “questions are not the same as ancient conspiracy theories, rolled out time and again to point a finger at the Jews”. With rumours swirling this week that the filmmaker behind the film denigrating Mohammed was Sam Bacile, an Israeli Jew – rumours that of course turned out to be nothing but a slur, with the producer identified as a Coptic Christian from California – this is sadly a point that needs reinforcing.

In Comment this week, I expressed my despair over the endless cycle of boycotts and protests that occurs, it seems, whenever an Israeli artist or performer is invited to Britain. I was also pleased to feature an essay by the British ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, in which he argued that Israel must fight a battle of hearts and minds for the British centre. Perhaps the most poignant paragraph was when he remarked: “I wish I did not have to address the threats to Israel or reaffirm that Britain believes in Israel’s existence and legitimacy – the British envoy to Sweden never has to say that we support Sweden’s right to exist.” If only the Middle East could get beyond arguments of existence to work for concrete progress and a two-state solution. The costs of failing to do so are only to clear; this week we ran my interview with Marsha Gladstone, whose teenage son was killed by a suicide bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv ten years ago this month.

Last but not least, on Friday I received a lovely thank you letter from Lord Janner, following my interview with him about his work to transform Holocaust education in this country. He’s an inspirational figure and it was a pleasure to speak to him.

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