Philip Patrick

The deep affinity between Japan and Israel

Tokyo Japan and Israel have a curious bond, which recent events have highlighted. A video showing a group of Japanese senior citizens singing ‘Japan loves Israel, and Israel loves Japan’ (in Hebrew) while waving Japanese and Israeli flags has received more than 900,000 views. The group, believed to be Christians, may be at the extreme end of Japanese philo-Semitism but their passion is generally shared. A crowd of 1,200 (big for Japan and probably greater than the number of Jews in the entire country) demonstrated in support of Israel in Tokyo earlier this month, just one of several similar events. The philosophy of the kibbutzim chimed with Japan’s collectivist culture

Why Argentina is turning its back on Brics

‘Today, the rebuilding of Argentina begins’, Javier Milei declared in his first speech as the new president-elect. The anarcho-capitalist is wasting no time in his mission.  Milei has already pulled the plug on what was set to be current president Fernandez’s career-defining achievement: Argentina’s historic admittance to Brics (a loose alliance of economies led by Brazil, Russia, India and China). Argentina’s new leader intends instead to swivel westwards, prioritising trade and relations with ‘the liberal democracies of the world’, while casting a backwards glance at China. Is Milei right to reorient Argentina, or is he biting the hand that feeds him? Beijing has declared it a ‘grave error’ if Argentina

Cindy Yu

Dialect and identity: is Mandarin bad for China?

44 min listen

Across the span of China, a country as big as Europe, there are countless regional dialects and accents – perhaps even languages. Often, they’re mutually unintelligible. The Chinese call these ‘fangyan’, and each Chinese person will likely be able to speak at least one fangyan, while also understanding Standard Mandarin, the official language of the People’s Republic. It means that the Chinese are more multilingual than you might think. But it also means that the question of language is inherently a political one. Standard Mandarin has a relatively short history, created by the country’s founding fathers to unify the spoken word in a huge country. But with the ubiquity of

Can Israel’s ceasefire in Gaza hold?

Originally meant to expire on Monday, the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has been extended by at least two days. During the first four days of the ceasefire, 69 hostages abducted on 7 October, including 50 Israelis and 19 foreign nationals were freed by Hamas. In return, Israel freed 120 Palestinian prisoners, many incarcerated for terrorism offences. The deal also included a substantial increase in humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Across the two added days of ceasefire, Hamas has agreed to release 20 additional hostages. It is likely that, following this extension, with about 170 hostages remaining in Gaza, the sides will agree to prolong the ceasefire. It seems

Dublin is a city on the edge

At 1.30 p.m. last Thursday, a horrific knife attack was perpetrated outside a school on Parnell Street in Dublin’s north inner city. Three children and an adult female were viciously stabbed by the attacker who has now been confirmed to be an Algerian male who acquired Irish citizenship and has been living in the country for the last 20 years. Both the attacker and his four victims have been hospitalised. One of those victims, a 5 year old girl, remains in a critical condition, while her female carer, who tried to stop the knifeman, remains in the Mater hospital. If it wasn’t the horrifying knife attack on Thursday that set

The next stage of Israel’s war will be even deadlier

On Friday a four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas began, as the first hostages taken by Hamas were released by the terrorist group. Under the deal struck, 50 Israeli women and children will be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners, who will be freed over the four-day period. Additionally, the Israeli government said the lull in hostilities will be extended for an additional day for every ten more hostages Hamas releases. In theory, the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas could last until all 240 hostages are released. And some may hope that the complex ceasefire arrangements might lead to an extended truce. But in reality, it is

Katja Hoyer

Germany’s Reichsbürger movement is anything but a joke

They don’t believe the German state exists, they make their own passports and they want the German monarchy restored. It’s tempting to dismiss the so-called Reichsbürger movement as a bunch of deranged conspiracy theorists. But the movement is growing, increasingly well-connected and willing to use violence to overthrow the state. In their latest crackdown on extremist Reichsbürger circles, the German authorities on Thursday conducted a coordinated raid involving around 280 police officers in eight of the country’s 16 states. They targeted 20 residences, involving people aged between 25 and 74 who are suspected of having formed a group around a 58-year-old Bavarian man. He had been arrested before, in November

Mark Galeotti

Sanctions against Russia haven’t failed

One of Russia’s toxic TV presenters recently cackled that Western sanctions ‘have only helped Russia wean itself off dependence on foreign imports and given a boost to our own producers’. At a time when Russia’s third quarter growth has actually exceeded expectations, hitting 5.5 per cent, it is worth noting what sanctions can and cannot do. The bottom line is that sanctions have not failed – but were never going to be the silver bullet solution to Kremlin aggression some claimed at the start. As in so many aspects of the West’s response to the 2022 Ukraine invasion, unrealistic early boosterism has led to subsequent, and arguably equally unrealistic, despondency.

What does Geert Wilders’s win mean for Dutch Muslims?

Muslims in the Netherlands have reacted with an understandable mixture of trepidation and anger to the electoral triumph of the far-right, anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders. Should they be afraid? ‘I don’t know if Muslims are still safe in the Netherlands,’ Habib El Kaddouri, a spokesman for Dutch Moroccans, dramatically informed the news agency ANP. On the face of it, who can blame Muslims for worrying about what Wilders’ unexpected — and frankly stunning — victory might mean for their future prospects. After all, Wilders is no friend of Muslims or Islam. No mosques, Korans or headscarves is the political clarion call of his Freedom Party (PVV). It is unashamedly anti-Islam: ‘We

New Zealand’s coalition goes to war with Jacinda Ardern’s legacy

New Zealand finally has a government again. It’s been 40 days since Labour was defeated in the country’s election, but the centre-right National party, which won the vote, has struggled to form a coalition. At last, it has thrashed out a deal with the libertarian ACT party, and centrist populist New Zealand First. The coalition is good news, at least, for foreigners seeking to live in New Zealand. Earlier this year, the National Party announced a plan to whack foreign buyers with a 15 per cent tax on houses worth over $2 million (£1.6 million). Now that idea has been ditched – a casualty of the coalition agreement. But New Zealand’s

Svitlana Morenets

Russia’s plan to freeze Ukraine

Winter hasn’t officially started, but Ukraine is already covered in snow. As temperatures dip a few degrees below zero, the nation is grappling with an electricity deficit. Ukrainians have been urged by the national power company to use electricity sparingly during the day and take measures such as switching on the washing machine at night. It’s just a taste of what’s about to come: for Russia, the cold is a weapon – and missile strikes aimed at power stations seek to freeze the nation into surrender. Last winter, even though Ukraine’s air defence systems downed hundreds of Russian missiles and drones, Russian forces managed to successfully strike Ukrainian energy facilities

The families of Israel’s hostages are living in hell

Yair Mozes, whose mother and father are among the 240 hostages kidnapped by Hamas, is trying to describe what it feels like. ‘It is hell,’ he says. ’You don’t go to sleep properly, then the minute you wake up, you’re bolt upright. I’m just about managing at present… then every now and then I fall apart and sleep for ten hours straight, as my body can’t handle it anymore.’ I suspect even those words don’t really do it justice. But they sound familiar. My own relatives suffered that same ghost-like half-life when I was kidnapped for six weeks by Somali pirates while working for the Telegraph back in 2008. Sleepless

Why Geert Wilders won

Far right, anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders has won a historic victory for his Freedom party (PVV) in shock Dutch elections on Wednesday. As the final votes are counted, Wilders appears to have more than doubled his 17 MPs in 2021 elections, winning 37 of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament and almost a quarter of the 13 million votes. ‘The PVV can no longer be ignored,’ vowed Wilders following his success overnight. ‘We will govern’. Wilders, who campaigned on the idea of ‘stopping’ immigration, appears to have benefitted from widespread mistrust of the government after a series of scandals under ex prime minister Mark Rutte. For years, Wilders has tried to

Is India attempting assassinations on foreign soil?

Is the Indian government guilty of conducting a covert policy of targeted assassinations of political opponents on foreign soil? The question is prompted by explosive revelations that the US authorities have foiled a conspiracy to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil and have issued a warning to India over its suspected involvement. The latest allegations, reported in the Financial Times, come just two months after Canada accused India of being behind the murder of a Sikh activist in Vancouver – a claim that prompted furious denials and denunciations from New Delhi.  Sitting on the diplomatic fence is not really feasible for Washington when it involves claims of India targeting

Why so many teenagers support Palestine

I’m a sixth-former in one of Britain’s largest comprehensives and know no one who supports Israel over Palestine. Some readers might find that shocking. Consider, though, how my generation gets its news. TikTok is today by far the no. 1 source of news for teenagers; YouTube is next, Instagram third. Studies show the average teen spends two hours every day glued to their screens. Few my age buy or read a newspaper, or would ever think of doing so. Even the idea of sitting down to watch television news seems alien to us. We view the world through smartphones; we understand current affairs through video snippets. In theory, the videos TikTok

Portrait of the week: tax cuts, hostage releases and highly rated horses

Home Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said, ‘We can now move on to the next phase of our economic plan and turn our attention to cutting taxes,’ having seen a reduction in inflation. Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, followed suit in the Autumn Statement, cutting personal taxes. The government was to make changes to long-term benefits. The minimum wage, known officially as the National Living Wage, currently £10.42 an hour for those over the age of 23, will rise to £11.44 an hour for those over 21 from next April. The government also drew attention to £8.3 billion allocated to mending potholes, money purportedly saved from the curtailment

Douglas Murray

When it comes to Palestine, the kids aren’t all right

Does anyone remember ‘Free Tibet’? Way back when, in the olden days of about the 1990s, if you knew nothing much about the world or politics but wanted to show you generally had the right outlook on things it was normal that you might have a sticker or a poster, or even go on a protest saying ‘Free Tibet’. It didn’t do any good, of course. Tibet remains doggedly unfree. For it turns out that the Chinese Communist party is not especially interested in the opinions of a few Devon-based sandal-wearers. The CCP occupies Tibet still, and continues to torture, repress and kill anyone there who stands against its brutal

Sanctions against Russia have backfired

Does a British government department have the right to punish individuals who have broken no laws on the basis of their political views? Are private companies allowed to discriminate against customers on the basis of their nationality alone? For the past two years, the answer to both these questions has been yes – if they have a connection to Russia. In the immediate aftermath of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, called the war ‘a tragedy for Ukraine, and a tragedy for Russia’. Directly addressing the people of Russia (and speaking in surprisingly well-accented Russian), Johnson said: ‘I do not believe