The Telegraph’s “Jewish Person of the Year”


netanyahuJulian Kossoff of the reports: The Jewish world just celebrated Rosh Hashanah. Looking back over the past 12 months (the year 5669) who are the individuals who have had a profound impact on the Jewish world?

BENYAMIN NETANYAHU: The Prime Minister of Israel has once again proved to be the canniest of political street-fighters.

Since being elected by a hairsbreadth in February, Netanyahu has ducked and dived, bobbed and weaved across the world stage with aplomb.

Days before Rosh Hashanah it became clear the he had out-manoeuvred the President of the United States, neutering his demands for a settlement freeze on the West Bank, while simultaneously avoiding being knifed in the back by the Nationalist hardliners and reliigous fanatics in his unstable ruling coalition.

Definitely, crossed off the Obama’s Chanukah card list, as he was the Clintons in the 90s.

Indeed, because this is the second time he has sabotaged a US president’s attempt to get the peace process rolling he doesn’t qualify for Jew of the Year, based on his unoriginality.

BERNIE MADOFF: The Harold Shipman of wealth management. The mastermind of the biggest fraud in history, whose $50 billion shake-down scammed, among others, a plethora of Jewish charities and philanthropists, though ripping-off his kith and kin probably went some way to disarming the anti-Semites.

With two investors having committed suicide, he literally has blood on his hands. Oh! to be a fly on the wall in his prison cell when he tries to atone for his sins this Yom Kippur.

He might prepare by referring to the Jewish Sage, Glueckel of Hameln, who wrote: “Above all my children, be honest in money matters with Jews and non-Jews alike. If you have money or possessions belonging to other people, take better care of them than you would if they wee your own. The first question that is put to a person on entering the next world is whether or not one was faithful in one’s business dealing.”

MENACHEM MAZUZ: Israel’s Attorney General and defender of the country’s credentials as a functioning democracy.

The lawman has rounded up the bad guys of Israeli politics, indicting the president, the finance minister and justice minister as well as several less prominent public figures and sent the whole world the message that Israel is no banana republic.

Now the former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, stands trial on graft charges.

If Olmert’s found guilty, Mazuz could well be the main contender for next year’s Jew of the Year accolade.

RICHARD GOLDSTONE: The highly respected South African judge walked into a firestorm of anger for his UN investigation into Israel’s January Gaza offensive.

Controversially, concluded Israel committed war crimes by deliberately attacking civilians, firing white phosphorous shells and carrying out torture – Hamas was also castigated.

Supporters applauded him for possessing the moral courage of an Old Testament prophet, detractors denounced him as a self-hating Jew.

However, as the brow-beating and teeth-gnashing subsides, it’s clear the impact of Goldstone’s report will be muted as the Obama administration didn’t like its “overwhelming focus” on Israel and will make sure it gets kicked into the long grass.

GILAD SHALIT: The 23-year-old Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in June 2006 and held hostage ever since.

Traditionally, the Israeli Army covenant with its public was to bring every soldier home – dead or alive. But the refusal to negotiate a deal in the Schalit case, contraste dwith the dignified suffering of his parents, has raised fundamental questions about the direction of Israeli society, between ideas on sacrifice and the sancitity of life.

Shalit could have been Jew of the year last year and, unfortunately, may well be a candidate for next, as there appears to be no sign of a break in the deadlocked negotiations.

DAME VIVIEN DUFFIELD: Leading philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield has guaranteed a happy Rosh Hashanah for British Jews by bank-rolling a unique community project.

The Jewish Community Centre for London (JCC) was the initiative of Dame Vivien Duffield, whose Clore Duffield Foundation committed £25 million to the scheme, the biggest ever single gift to a Jewish communal body – and also the biggest donation she has ever made to any project.

The 30,000 sq ft state-of-the-art building will have a multi-purpose hall, a cinema, a screening room, a recording studio, an arts and crafts workshop and a nursery for 80 children, will serve the capital’s 200,000-strong Jewish community.

The only daughter of retail tycoon Sir Charles Clore, Dame Vivien is estimated to have given over £200 million in bequests and donations to a number of British institutions including the Royal Opera House, the South Bank Centre and Oxford University.

As a paragon of the mitzah (duty) to be charitable, Dame Vivien is runner-up Jew of the Year.

THE JFS PARENTS: The parents of a boy who wanted to be educated at the UK’s largest Jewish school, JFS.

However, despite their sincerity and religious observance the fact that the boy’s mother is a non-Orthodox convert to Judaism meant the application was rejected.

Refusing to be refused, the parents – who have remained anonymous throughout – took the school to the High Court and stunned the Orthodox establishment with a landmark ruling that the policies of JFS were “racist”.

The decision has promoted an unprecedented and immensely healthy debate among British Jews about identity, conversion, faith and Who is a Jew?

The feisty parents just wanted to get there son a Jewish education but in doing so may have profoundly changed an entire community and as a result are worthy “Jews of the Year”.

{The Telegraph/ Newscenter}


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here