My week in writing

On Tuesday I was at Brent Town Hall for the resolution of a case that has dragged on for several years. The Van Colles, a couple whose son was killed by a former employee who he was due to testify against, have fought for a long time for Hertfordshire Police to acknowledge wrongdoing.

Their son had warned an officer that his killer was threatening him, yet nothing was done. Despite a High Court and Appeals Court win, the Law Lords found against the family, and this week their case finally went to the European Court of Human Rights. Sadly for the family, the judges did not find in their favour. As they told me shortly after finding out the result, “we had to do it”.

I also reported on the latest – perhaps the final – stage in the dispute over the future of Glasgow’s only Jewish school, after the chair of the Parents Council announced his resignation. What it will mean for the future of the school remains to be seen. And as the Batsheva tour continued, with protests at every stop, I reported on the arrest of a man for making an anti-Jewish slur.

Elsewhere, I rounded up the winners and losers among the Jewish candidates who stood for election and re-election in the US last week, noting that Rabbi Shmuley Boteach failed in his bid. And I filled our regular “My Week” slot with a look at my trip to New York during the election and after the hurricane hit.

On Wednesday, just a few hours before we went to press, news came that a senior Hamas military commander had been killed in an Israeli air strike. From the start of Operation Pillar of Defence, I have been part of the team keeping the JC website up to date, with video and news coverage. On press night, I looked in particular at the war of words that broke out on Twitter between the IDF account and that of the Al Qassam brigades – more than just your average Twitter feud.


My two weeks in writing

I’ve been abroad for a week, despite the best efforts of a superstorm to stop my flight from reaching the other side of the Atlantic. While I was in New York, I briefly covered the view on the street ahead of the presidential election, finding mainly that voters were somewhat disillusioned with Obama but not wildly keen on Romney either. In keeping with the spirit of the election, I also wrote a piece for Optima ahead of the vote, assessing the position of First Ladies in US political culture.

Elsewhere, I wrote about a shoe designer who truly is deserving of the label “fabulous” for his creations that resemble just about anything – anything, that is, except for shoes themselves. My personal favourite? The coffee cup stilettos; surely worth getting up and out for.

I reported on the protests against the Batsheva ensemble as the Israeli dancers began their national tour, and covered laughable comments from Lib Dem MP Sir Bob Russell, who professed his desire to see Israeli medicines labelled. But, he explained, he had no problem using them to make himself better, if need be. A coherent approach, that one.

And in an enjoyable interview with Dr Giles Fraser, the reverend told me about his agonising efforts to learn the Hebrew language; a skill I have not yet mastered to a level beyond very basic.

My week in writing

With a show at the Tate this year, the Pre-Raphaelite painters are enjoying something of a renaissance. After being alerted to a lecture that was taking place in London revealing that William Holman Hunt – one of the movement’s founders – had lived in Jerusalem for several years and painted there, I decided to investigate further.

As I discovered, Holman Hunt built a home and a life in the Middle East; a daring feat that none of his fellow Pre-Raphaelites attempted. Not only that, but a look back in times revealed him to be on a par with Theodor Herzl in his passion for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the region. His letter on the subject, in which he offered to pay some money to3ward such a scheme, made for fascinating reading.

This week, I also followed up on the ongoing dispute over Jewish education at Calderwood Lodge in Glasgow, and received reassurances from several venues set to host Israeli dance company Batsheva next month that the tour would go ahead, despite the efforts of boycott supporters. And in another look back at the past, I learnt about the refugees from Nazi Europe who were able to stay in Britain by working as servants.

In Comment I discussed whether the British Jewish community should drop the tradition of observing two days of the festivals, and published two thought-provoking pieces on Ed Miliband and the disturbing trend of “Price Tag” attacks by extremists in the West Bank.

Away from the JC, I wrote for the Independent’s “Independent Voices” section on the embarrassing Jewish Mum of the Year programme on Channel 4, questioning the purpose of such television. In Optima magazine I discussed the growth in the use of sleeping pills and other remedies for insomnia.