The Egyptian government is sending Jews mixed signals

WHEN IT COMES to Egypt’s Jewish community, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi says all the right things. Only a minuscule fraction of the 80,000 Jews who once lived in Egypt remain in this Arab, Muslim country. Nonetheless, Mr Sisi promises a resurgence of local Jewry.

Continue reading

Secular Israelis on buses strike a blow for religious freedom

AT THE Clock-Tower Square in Jaffa, dozens of Israelis wait in the winter sun for a bus home after a Saturday afternoon in nearby restaurants and bars. Any other day of the week this would be normal, but for today’s passengers there is a subversive thrill. For over 70 years buses and trains have not run in most of Israel from sundown on Friday to nightfall on Saturday.

Continue reading

An odd Hebrew word says a lot about Israeli politics

I want you (to be resentful) IT IS NOT easy to translate the Hebrew word davka. It means something like “despite it all” and “because of”, but with a sense of deliberate precision: I was at home all day, but the delivery man came davka during the half-hour when I was out. It can connote an intent to irritate: my girlfriend knows we disagree about politics, but she always davka brings it up.

Continue reading