Daniel Korski

Poland, 1968: the last pogrom

‘Are you Jewish?’ the officious-looking Dutch diplomat asked my dad. ‘Yes’, he said, realising at that very moment, everything had changed. He was no longer Polish; the culture he had been born in, the citizenship he held, the language he spoke, the country he loved – it all meant nothing. He was just Jewish. He

Making a call on Qatada

The Prime Minister, we are told, has been trying to reach the King of Jordan to see if some kind of arrangement can be made so that Abu Qatada can be deported legally and that no forms of torture-gained evidence will used against him in a Jordanian court. This seems like a sensible thing to

Stopping Assad

The situation in Syria grows worse by the minute. President Assad seems to have taken the UN Security Council’s deadlock as carte blanche to launch an all-out attack on Homs. Russia looks like she wants to mediate, while Turkey is preparing a new initiative with countries who oppose the Syrian government, a sort of anti-Assad

Where has the pro-EU camp gone?

Did you see that amazing article by a group of pro-EU businesspeople? What about that clever ad paid for by ‘Better To Be In’, the new pro-EU lobby group? Nope, me neither. The reason we haven’t seen anything like that is because the pro-European camp in Britain is in total disarray. Like a beaten army,

Putin’s end

This weekend, thousands of people defied the cold and the control in Moscow to show their dislike for Vladimir Putin and what Russia has become under his leadership: corrupt, energy-reliant, centralised, and uncompetitive. It is now a country that must win externally because it can’t help but lose internally. ‘Post-BRIC’, as a new report has

Storm in an Indian teacup

So, does India want the UK’s aid or not? If you believe the Indian finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, the funds are unnecessary, ‘peanuts’ even. The Daily Telegraph reports that British ministers ‘begged’ the Indian government to take the money. The story is likely to garner attention, especially as aid to a growing power like India

A Syrian Srebrenica?

Every day things are getting worse in Syria. Today the Syrian regime started what looks like an all-out assault on the key city of Homs, reportedly killing at least 55 people. The attack took place as the UN Security Council prepares to vote on a draft resolution backing an Arab call for President Bashar al-Assad

An Israeli strike on Iran?

Will they or won’t they? Most political parlour games involve a question of this kind and the one about whether Israel will strike Iran – played out regularly in Washington, London and Paris – is no exception. The last couple of days have seen more sabre-rattling than before. Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon, who heads

Don’t expect repatriation in this Parliament

When David Cameron wielded his veto at the European Council in December many Tories thought this was the beginning of a process of repatriation of powers from the EU. Myself, I thought it would be the high water mark of the government’s Euro-scepticism — and so it has proven. But things are about to get

Moving on up

If Muhammad won’t come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Muhammad. Or so goes a saying popularised by Francis Bacon. It seems Andrew Mitchell, the Development Secretary, has taken this to heart and decided to move his entire Department — DfID — closer to the Foreign Office, MoD and, of course, No 10.

Uncertainty reigns in Syria

The Syrian situation is worsening by the day. Now the Arab League has pulled back its monitors in recognition of their failure to ease the violence. Foreign Secretary William Hague has said he is ‘deeply concerned,’ while the Gulf states are pushing for the whole mater to be referred to the UN Security Council. But

‘Let everyone live happily…’

Created to remember one of the darkest chapters in mankind’s history, Holocaust Day is for many people an occasion for unadulterated discomfort. Most of my family perished in the Holocaust and those who survived either hid in occupied Poland, pretending to be Catholics, fled to Uzbekistan in the then-USSR or, like Marcel Rayman, fought the

Let’s talk about Qatar

The rise of Qatar has been one of the most remarkable developments in the recent history of the Middle East. How this small, oil-rich Gulf state built Al Jazeera and parleyed the TV station’s influence into a diplomatic role across the region is an insufficiently explored issue. The list of the monarchy’s achievements is impressive,

Would Iran block the Strait of Hormuz?

With the EU agreeing a new round of sanctions on Iran – outlawing European oil and gas purchases from Iran in six months, freezing Iran’s Central Bank and banning trade in gold and other precious metals with any state-related bodies – tensions between Iran and the West are increasing. An Iranian MP has – again

Welcome, Croatia

Croatia’s EU referendum was overwhelming — more than two-thirds of voters favoured the young state’s accession to the European Union. This is an important moment. For it shows that another part of Yugoslavia is intent on leaving its violent past behind and move into the European mainstream. Croatia and its newly-elected government still faces many

Uncivil service

Political cultures differ. In Iran, for example, hyperbole is expected in all political conversations. So slogans always call for ‘Death to the US’, and nothing less. In Britain, of course, the use of language is more even-tempered, but other rules apply. Blaming the civil service for failure is considered OK, but charging an individual official,

A taxing kind of spin

The story being briefed out of the year’s first Franco-German Summit is that President Nicolas Sarkozy won the backing of Chancellor Angela Merkel for a tax on financial transactions, a levy that the British government objects to and that Ernst and Young say would leave a €116bn hole in Europe’s public finances. But before the

The Burma trail

Foreign policy specialists have been confused about how to categorise the coalition. Is it neoconservative, given its backing for the Libyan rebels? No, says no less a figure than the Prime Minister. Is it realpolitical, given the PM’s willingness to make up with Russia and court China? Most No.10 officials would wince at such a

Dire straits

The situation in the Strait of Hormuz continues to intensify, with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond showing that, like his predecessor, he is not shy of pushing back when he gets a shove. Today he warned Iran that any attempt to block the straits, a key shipping lane, would be ‘illegal and unsuccessful’, and would be

Libya still hasn’t found peace

Guns blazing, Libya’s various militias are showing little sign of laying down their arms and giving authority to the Libyan state. Even Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council, has said that Libya faces a risk of widespread conflict, after a gun battle between militias in one of Tripoli’s busiest streets killed four