Freddy Gray

Freddy Gray, Angus Colwell, Matthew Parris, Flora Watkins and Rory Sutherland

30 min listen

On this week’s Spectator Out Loud: after President Biden’s debate disaster, Freddy Gray profiles the one woman who could persuade him to step down, his wife Jill (1:05); Angus Colwell reports from Israel, where escalation of war seems a very real possibility (9:02); Matthew Parris attempts to reappraise the past 14 years of Conservative government (14:16); Flora Watkins reveals the reasons why canned gin and tonics are so popular (21:24); and, Rory Sutherland asks who could possibly make a better Bond villain than Elon Musk? (25:00).  Presented by Patrick Gibbons.  

Jake Wallis Simons

Israel can no longer avoid a clash with its ultra-Orthodox citizens

In the imagination of the world, there could be nobody more Jewish than the ultra-Orthodox. With their black hats, sidecurls and frock coats, they are taken as the very epitome of the culture. That is why their radical fringes are appropriated by Israelophobes seeking a cover for their bigotry, as if suffering a cartoonish Jewish ally is a price worth paying to evade charges of antisemitism. Tens of thousands of young men devote their lives to taxpayer-funded study while their secular compatriots place their lives on the line This week, pictures of such apparently devout Jews clashing with Israeli police were seized upon as another opportunity to delegitimise the state

Jake Wallis Simons

Joe Biden has failed Israel

Another week, another confirmation that when it comes to jihadism, the Biden administration’s foreign policy occupies the nexus between incompetence and moral vacancy. We’ve observed the President’s strategic genius when it comes to the Taliban (withdraw), Iran’s nuclear ambitions (appease) and Hamas (thus far but no further). Now we are seeing it when it comes to Hezbollah. With the conflict in Gaza winding down, Israel is being forced to turn its mind to its restive northern border. Over the last eight months, with the eyes of the world fixed firmly on Palestine, the parallel war – for that is what it has been – with the Lebanese militia Hezbollah has

Freddy Gray

Why are US universities so anti-Israel?

23 min listen

Freddy speaks to Jacob Howland, Provost and Dean of the Intellectual Foundations Program at the University of Austin, about the spread of college protests across American universities in response to the Israel-Gaza conflict. How have campuses become such hot beds of anti-Israeli sentiment and what has the influence of Marxism been? They also discuss the intersection of personal rights at university with freedom of speech. What influence will Biden’s response have on the Jewish vote for the 2024 election?

Gantz’s resignation from Israel’s war cabinet spells trouble for Netanyahu

Benny Gantz, leader of the Israeli Resilience party and a member of the war cabinet, has resigned from Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Gantz, a moderate who joined the cabinet days into the war against Hamas, has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the prime minister over a lack of a plan for Gaza. Gantz positioned himself as a ‘patriot’, in contrast to Netanyahu, whom he accused of operating based on narrow political interests ‘Netanyahu is preventing us from progressing towards a true victory,’ Gantz said in a TV address on Sunday night. ‘For this reason we are leaving the emergency government today, with a heavy heart, yet wholeheartedly.’ Gantz also called on

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

Jake Wallis Simons

Egypt has questions to answer over Rafah

Why have all eyes been on Rafah? We have been led to believe that the intense focus on a town the size of Rochdale in southern Gaza derives from purely humanitarian concerns, as if any Israeli operation there would trigger a civilian catastrophe on the scale of Rwanda or Darfur. Take a closer look, though, and this narrative quickly falls apart. The Israeli operation taking place as I write is remarkable. According to Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces who is closely following the conflict in Gaza, the current casualty ratio in Rafah is about one civilian for every ten combatants killed, which is several orders of

Pressure is piling on Netanyahu over Rafah

On Sunday, 45 Palestinians were killed after an Israeli airstrike on two Hamas commanders in the Rafah area set off a secondary explosion of ammunition, triggering a fire. Nevertheless, the IDF’s Rafah operation is continuing apace. A number of Merkava 4 tanks of the 401st armoured brigade were sighted near the al-Awda mosque close to the centre of Rafah city on Tuesday. The presence of the tanks has not been confirmed by the IDF but if accurate, it represents the furthest penetration by Israel into the heart of Rafah’s urban area to date. Israeli infantry and armoured forces of the 162nd division, meanwhile, continue to push along the Philadelphi Corridor adjoining the border with

The ICC’s desire to arrest Netanyahu is far from impartial

In a dramatic announcement, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, declared today that he has applied for arrest warrants to be issued for Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. He has applied for three more for the Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniya. On Hamas, Khan emphasised crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, taking hostages, rape and other sexual violence committed as part of a ‘widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of Israel by Hamas and other armed groups’ as reasons for issuing the warrants. The chief prosecutor didn’t include alleged crimes perpetrated by Hamas again

Jake Wallis Simons

Ebrahim Raisi’s successor could be worse

It is doubtful that Ebrahim Raisi, the ‘butcher of Tehran’, would have experienced a moral epiphany had he been shown in life the reaction that his demise would evoke from his own people. So it goes with fanatics, especially one who presided over the murder of thousands of political opponents by bundling them into forklift trucks and hanging them from cranes. Nevertheless, the jubilation affirms – as if it was needed – that the Iranian people have no truck with the Iranian regime. His death leaves an opening in the competition for power Let’s set aside the fact that the EU responded to the crash by offering its Copernicus rapid

Benny Gantz’s resignation threat has Netanyahu in a bind

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet is at risk of falling apart as the country’s defence establishment turns on him. Last night, Benny Gantz, leader of the National Unity party and a member of Netanyahu’s coalition, issued the Prime Minister with an ultimatum. In an extremely critical speech, Gantz blamed Netanyahu for letting personal interests interfere with decisions of national security and allowing a group of extremists to take the helm. Gantz’s ultimatum includes six demands: the return of the hostages held by Hamas; the destruction of Hamas and the demilitarisation of Gaza; replacing Hamas’s rule with an alternative government; allowing civilians from Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, who

Bibi’s plan for a post-war Gaza

Sharp differences within Israel’s governing coalition have emerged into the open in recent days. On the face of it, the dispute centres on preferred post-war arrangements in Gaza. But the rival stances also reflect underlying, contrasting views concerning the conduct and aims of Israel’s now eight-month long military campaign in the Gaza Strip.   The divisions have begun to receive attention in recent days because of Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s public statement criticising the government for ‘indecision,’ regarding the ‘day after’ in Gaza. But the dispute is not new. Gallant has for months been advocating in cabinet for a plan his ministry has developed, concerning how Gaza will be governed after

Qanta Ahmed

Why is Colombia turning its back on Israel in its hour of need?

Colombia’s president Gustavo Petro has terminated diplomatic relations with Israel and described the country’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as ‘genocidal’. Thankfully, not all Colombians share Petro’s view of the Jewish State. Many of the ten million or so evangelical Christians in Colombia are outraged at the message Petro’s outburst sends to the 4,000-strong Jewish Colombian community. Prominent Colombians have also expressed dismay at Petro’s self indulgent proclamation. When I visited Colombia for ten days as a guest of the Israeli ambassador Gali Dagan last month, I met many Colombians who apologised for Petro’s comments. ‘He doesn’t represent us,’ they said. Colombia is turning its back on Israel in its hour

Brendan O’Neill

What is the anti-Israel Eurovision protest really about?

A young Israeli woman warned to stay in her hotel room. A baying mob on the streets outside hollering slogans and abuse. Death threats piling up. Bodyguards working round the clock to make sure no protester gets inside to where the woman has taken refuge from their fury. I’m sorry, is this a political protest or a Jew-hunt? The most galling thing about the Malmo protests is the sight of Greta Thunberg I am referring, of course, to the despicable scenes in Malmo in Sweden where the final of the Eurovision Song Contest takes place tomorrow. The woman is Eden Golan, a 20-year-old Israeli-Russian who is singing for Israel. The

Is the special relationship between Israel and America souring?

President Biden doesn’t give many sit-down television interviews, but when he does, he tends to make news. This week he sat down for an on-air session with CNN’s Erin Burnett, who asked him point-blank whether US bombs given to Israel have caused civilian casualties in Gaza. Biden’s response was notable not necessarily because the answer was a mystery (of course US bombs have killed civilians there) but rather because Biden showed a considerable degree of frustration with Israel’s war strategy. ‘Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they [Israel] go after population centres,’ the President said. ‘I’ve made it clear to

Jake Wallis Simons

Israel’s Rafah operation is tragically necessary

There is, as Ecclesiastes reminded us, a time for war and a time for peace. In its 76-year history, Israel has rarely selected the time for war, almost always reinforcing its position and responding in self-defence to Arab attacks. The invasion of Rafah will be another such tragic chapter in the tragic history of the Jewish state. Hamas has made it a time for war. The tanks went in after volleys of rockets were fired by Hamas Has it started already? Last night, Israeli tanks entered the southern town after a last-ditch ceasefire proposal from Hamas was rejected as inadequate. But the operation has so far fallen short of a

Can Netanyahu afford to reject Hamas’s ceasefire deal?

A day after it seemed that a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel was all but dead, the terror group has issued a surprise statement announcing that it has accepted the deal offered by Egypt and Qatar. Optimism, though, would be premature at this point. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under considerable public pressure to reach a deal that will secure the release of Israeli hostages, has said the proposal for a new Gaza ceasefire is ‘far from Israel’s basic requirements’. Meanwhile, late on Monday, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said it was conducting targeted strikes against Hamas targets in eastern Rafah. Despite this military action and Netanyahu’s

Hamas is playing for time

Israeli, international and Hamas officials are currently awaiting the decision of Yahya Sinwar, the terror group’s military leader on a proposed ceasefire deal. Egypt has put forward a phased release of Israeli hostages and a temporary end to the fighting in Gaza. Sinwar is looking at the deal. As the talking and the diplomatic manoeuvring continues, two IDF combat divisions, the 98th Airborne and the 162nd Armoured, are making their final preparations for entry into Rafah. Failure to reach agreement on Egypt’s proposal is likely to set an IDF operation into motion. Egypt’s proposition would commit Israel to a long and open-ended ceasefire. Over time, Israeli hostages would be swapped

Israel is committed to fighting on in Rafah

As last week drew to a close, it seemed that the intense efforts of Egyptian and American mediators might result in a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel being reached. Then on Saturday, a ‘high ranking source in the Israeli government’ announced that Israel would invade Rafah whether a deal was reached or not, meaning an agreement would only delay an operation into Hamas’s last stronghold. In response, Hamas hardened their position. They demanded further guarantees from mediators that the deal would lead to a permanent ceasefire allowing the terrorist organisation to keep control over Gaza and to continue attacking Israel. Israel cannot allow Hamas to keep control of Gaza

Netanyahu is in a bind over invading Rafah

When Israel responded to Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack in a measured military fashion on 19 April, some believed that Israeli prime minister BenjaminNetanyahu had agreed to show restraint in return for Joe Biden’s support for a military operation in Rafah. These rumours were dispelled this weekend when the US president reiterated his objection to a major military operation in the city during a call with Netanyahu. This leaves Netanyahu between a rock and the hard place. Rafah, located in the southern end of the Gaza strip, is near the border with Egypt and close to Israel itself. It is the last and most significant of Hamas’s strongholds and