Netanyahu thinks he’s Churchill, Israelis see Chamberlain

Aleading member of Israel’s wartime cabinet has threatened to resign should Benjamin Netanyahu fail to present a strategy for ending the war in Gaza. The liberal politician Benny Gantz, who would win an election were one held now, has given a public ultimatum. He will collapse Netanyahu’s fragile coalition if no peace plan is delivered by Saturday. Netanyahu might believe he’s a Churchill; most Israelis consider him a Chamberlain Meanwhile, the largest protest since 7 October took place last weekend when 120,000 Israelis marched in Tel Aviv. Families of the 120 hostages held in Gaza (at least a third of whom are presumed dead) have joined the growing demonstrations against

Joe Biden’s ceasefire proposal could sink Benjamin Netanyahu

Joe Biden’s introduction of the three-stage deal to end the war in Gaza was a clever rout to bypass Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden has lost confidence in Netanyahu’s readiness to present things to the Israeli public, and to his own cabinet, in an honest and truthful way. By presenting the terms of the deal clearly and independently from Netanyahu’s spins, Biden was in full control of the message, in the hope that the Israeli public will back the deal and make it impossible for Netanyahu to back out of it. Netanyahu’s already unstable coalition is on even shakier ground now Netanyahu has spent the past eight months manoeuvring between the demands

Netanyahu’s strategy in Rafah isn’t working

On 7 April, six months after the October massacres in southern Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the public that the country was just ‘one step away from victory’ in its war against Hamas in Gaza. Nearly two months later, Israel hasn’t taken that step yet. The war continues. No more hostages have been released alive. Hamas rockets still fall inside Israel, including a barrage earlier this week that rained down on the suburbs of Tel Aviv. The two leaders of Israel’s war effort haven’t spoken to each other for a fortnight In the meantime, international public opinion has hardened against Israel. Some countries, like Colombia, have broken diplomatic relations.

Drama students: how universities raised a generation of activists

39 min listen

This week: On Monday, tents sprung up at Oxford and Cambridge as part of a global, pro-Palestinian student protest which began at Columbia University. In his cover piece, Yascha Mounk, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, explains how universities in both the US and the UK have misguidedly harboured and actively encouraged absurdist activism on campuses. Yascha joined the podcast to discuss further. (01:57) Next: Bugs, biscuits, trench foot: a dispatch from the front line of the protests. The Spectator’s Angus Colwell joined students at tent encampments this week at UCL, Oxford and Cambridge. He found academics joining in with the carnival atmosphere. At Cambridge one don even attended with their

How universities raised a generation of activists

It was only a matter of time before America’s student protests spread to the UK. In Oxford, tents have been pitched on grass that, in ordinary times, no student is allowed to walk on. The ground outside King’s College in Cambridge looks like Glastonbury, complete with an ‘emergency toilet’ tent. Similar camps can be found at UCL, Manchester University and more. There have been no clashes with police, but that may yet come. In Leeds, for example, pro-Palestinian students tried to storm a university building, leading to bloody clashes with security guards. From the Sorbonne to Sydney University, the movement has gone global. Its ostensible cause is hardly ignoble. It’s

Bugs, biscuits, trench foot: from the front line of the uni protests

On the grass in front of UCL’s main building, on Sunday night, there were about 30 tents and the portico was plastered in handwritten signs: ‘Students: You’re in debt so UCL can fund a genocide!’ Some protestors sat on chairs, eating biscuits. Others stood at the front gate chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’. ‘Do you want a tent, bro?’ asked one protestor. I explained that I was a reporter and was immediately whisked away to talk to a spokesman. ‘Spectator, Spectator … yeah, I think that’s left-wing. All good.’ A girl who had come along for the day received a keffiyeh tutorial and as night began to fall,

A new survey that may be of interest

My favourite opinion polls are those which elicit enormous shock in the population for stating something everybody knew for ages, or could have guessed. Such as those headlined ‘People in Torquay are happier than people in Rotherham’ – goodness me, etc. Surely we are reaching the time when bland, deceitful shibboleths should be replaced by reality The polls that always occasion the gravest shock, however – despite the fact they come out every year or so – are those dealing with the views of the British Muslim community. In the lacunae between these reports their findings are completely ignored in favour of the approved set of lies with which the

Putin may seem confident – but Russia’s future is bleak

How old will you be when Vladimir Putin’s next presidential term ends in 2030? Which of today’s world leaders will still be in office? By that time Putin will have been in power for 29 years, and just under half the population of the Earth at that time will have been born during his reign. On current form, Putin is set to see in at least two more US presidents – or more, if he chooses to stay in power until 2036. Putin has made a fetish of defending a Russian national sovereignty that no one had attempted to destroy When Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in 2022 many

The fresh, forceful voice of Frantz Fanon

‘If I’d died in my thirties, what would be left behind?’ is the question that keeps coming to mind reading this timely new biography of Frantz Fanon, the psychiatrist and philosopher who became an icon to leftist revolutionaries across the globe. ‘Would I want history to judge me by what I wrote at 36?’ For that was the absurdly young age at which Fanon died of leukaemia in 1961, leaving two key works to his name: Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth. Not a huge legacy, then, in sheer numbers of words. But it was enough to seal his reputation as both a chronicler of one

Permanent stalemate in Gaza suits Netanyahu

Jerusalem After midnight on Thursday is dead-time for the Israeli media. The weekend editions have gone to print (newspapers don’t come out on Shabbat) and the Friday night TV news shows have been pre-recorded. The country’s journalists are yearning for respite from a long week covering the war. Benjamin Netanyahu chose that black hole of news, 2 a.m. last Friday, to leak his ‘Day after Hamas’ plan for post-war Gaza. There was no speech. No briefings. Just a page and a bit, double-spaced, presented to his cabinet for discussion. The plan has not been designed to end the war in Gaza. It is about Netanyahu’s own political survival But the plan

It will be difficult for Israel to ignore this ICJ ruling

Yesterday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered an interim ruling on South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. Its decision is likely to please neither side of the debate, but seems broadly balanced: it criticised Israel, but failed to demand a suspension of the conflict.  The court, which sits in The Hague, was formed in 1945 and is one of the principal organs established by the Charter of the United Nations. It is the UN’s highest court.  On 29 December, South Africa brought its proceedings in the ICJ under Article 9 of the Genocide Convention of 1948. It claimed that Israel was engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people

Portrait of the week: Post Office scandal, Tube strikes off and dog meat banned

Home Although it had long been known that between 1999 and 2015 more than 700 sub-postmasters were convicted of false accounting, theft and fraud (based on the faulty Horizon computer accounting system software), the government suddenly proposed to do something about it because of a public outcry following an ITV drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office. The Metropolitan Police was investigating the Post Office over fraud possibly arising from money being ‘recovered from sub-postmasters as a result of prosecutions or civil actions’. Paula Vennells, who held high office in the Post Office from 2007 to 2019, said she was handing back her CBE ‘with immediate effect’, although it is

Portrait of the week: Met in a muddle, King’s Speech and a wine production slump 

Home Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said of pro-Palestinian demonstrations: ‘To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and there is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated.’ The Metropolitan Police urged organisers of a pro-Palestinian march on 11 November to postpone it, but they refused. The Prime Minister then said he would hold the Metropolitan Police Commissioner ‘accountable’ for his decision to greenlight the ‘disrespectful’ demonstration. Imran Hussain MP left the Labour front bench over Sir Keir Starmer’s opposition to a ceasefire in Gaza, and Afrasiab Anwar, the leader of Burnley council, and ten councillors left the Labour party.

Benjamin Netanyahu is increasingly seen as Israel’s curse

Jerusalem On Tuesday, I was driving down to an Israeli army headquarters on the border with Gaza as a massive convoy of police cars and black bullet-proof limousines forced me onto the side of the road by the town of Ofakim. In Israel, only one man travels in a convoy that large.  It was 7 November, a month after the Hamas attack on Israeli communities in which 1,400 were murdered and the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza began. Even during peacetime the Prime Minister’s movements are shrouded in secrecy until he is safely back in one of his homes or offices.  Many Israelis, including those who voted for

Portrait of the Week: Tory by-election misery, ‘jihad’ chants and emergency aid

Home Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, on his return from Israel (where he spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister) and to Saudi Arabia (where he spoke with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince), told the House of Commons: ‘Hamas is not only a threat to Israel, but to many others across the region. All the leaders I met agreed that this is a watershed moment. It’s time to set the region on a better path.’ Twelve Britons had died in the Hamas attack, and five were missing. Of the blast at Gaza’s al-Ahli hospital on 17 October, which killed numbers of people into the hundreds, he said it was likely to

Britain should back a ceasefire

Six weeks ago, I invited Ahmed Alnaouq, a young diplomat who recently joined the Palestinian mission in London, to stay for a cricket weekend in Wiltshire. He resisted all entreaties to play the game but was in every other way a delightful guest. On Sunday, Ahmed learnt that his family in Gaza has been wiped out by an Israeli bomb. His father, siblings, and more than 15 nieces and nephews had all been killed. Twenty-three dead, no injuries. Another brother was killed by an Israeli bombing in 2014. His mother died three years ago because, he says, Israel denied her medical treatment. When I sent him a text message saying that

Toby Young

Why I don’t trust the BBC’s Trusted News Initiative

You almost certainly haven’t heard of the Trusted News Initiative (TNI), although you probably should have. It’s a BBC-led consortium of the world’s most powerful news, social media and technology companies that seeks to cleanse the internet of ‘disinformation’. It carries out this mission by doing its best to discredit sites that challenge the prevailing narrative on topics like lockdowns, Covid vaccines, electoral fraud, the Ukraine war and climate change. It was founded in 2019 by Jessica Cecil, a senior BBC executive who, in 2021, was part of the Counter Disinformation Policy Forum, a shadowy group of ‘experts’ convened by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to monitor criticism

No one should trust the camera in the age of AI

This war is being fought with pictures more than words. The poignant shots, often selfies, of families, children, even babies, who were to become victims of Hamas butchery, the wailing mothers and children on stretchers in Gaza, the missile strikes and collapsed concrete buildings. We know politicians on all sides lie, but photography is a mechanical process; these pictures must, surely, be the truth? Almost all these photos have been taken with mobile phones. To a rough approximation, everybody now has a smartphone. There are said to be seven billion smartphones in use around the world – there are only eight billion people. (Sales of what we used to know

An Israeli ground assault would be devastating for Gaza

On a patch of scrubland outside the Zikim kibbutz earlier this week, I came across a platoon of Merkava 4 tanks positioned among the trees. One of the tank commanders recognised my colleague and we exchanged a few words. ‘This is our Yom Kippur,’ he told us. ‘We haven’t even begun to grasp the implications of this.’ Yom Kippur, in this context, isn’t a reference to the annual Jewish day of atonement. Rather, it recalls October 1973, when Israel was surprised by an attack on two fronts from the forces of Egypt and Syria. The Hamas assault on Israeli Jewish communities around the Gaza Strip came exactly 50 years and a day after what Israelis