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TikTok intifada: the role of new media in old conflicts

In Israel last month, a video on the social media platform TikTok encouraged users to film themselves assaulting Orthodox Jews. That video became a spark that ignited outrage across the country. A band of Jewish extremists, Lehava, organised a march in response. They clashed with Arab groups at Damascus Gate. In a situation that was

Is the worst yet to come in the Middle East?

Beirut We can’t say yet if the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas is the start of ‘the big one’, a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising. That possibility was raised by the grandest of Middle East commentators, Thomas Friedman, in the New York Times. Friedman is sometimes mocked for his prognostications. A ‘Friedman’ is defined

Bloc buster: David Frost on Brexit, Barnier and the backstop

In an eyrie at the top of the Cabinet Office sits David Frost, Boris Johnson’s former Brexit negotiator who is now the cabinet minister responsible for handling the European Union. His office has the genial feel of a don’s study — there’s a book of Anglo-Saxon verse on his table alongside one of Greek poetry

Why I’m considering cancelling my second Covid jab

I am considering cancelling my second Covid-19 vaccination. I received my first jab in March, and at the time I happily booked the date for the second one in June, confident that by then we would be continuing to see a fall in infections. But last week the story changed. The B.1.617.2 variant, first identified

The truth about being a Goth

I am not your typical Goth. I don’t have piercings or tattoos (I refuse to pay for pain), I have no mental illnesses and, most shocking of all, I am heterosexual. On the other hand, my birthday is on 22 May, World Goth Day, so maybe it was my destiny. I find comfort in the

Comedy gold: the economics of internet irony

If you’re looking for proof we live in a computer simulation, consider the farcical story of dogecoin. Named after an internet meme about a talking dog, the joke currency was created as a parody of bitcoin. Dogecoin has no practical uses, yet online investors have ploughed billions into it. ‘We thought it would just make

Notes on...

The grim roots of ‘refusenik’

‘Vaccine refusenik’ is the latest catchphrase used to disparage anyone unwilling — for whatever reason — to roll up their sleeve for a Covid shot. Few are aware, however, that the word ‘refusenik’ could hardly be less fitting. The term ‘refusenik’ (the anglicised version of the Russian otkaznik), which spread across the globe in the