The Communal Gadfly: Jews, British Jews and the Jewish State: Asking the Subversive Questions

The Communal Gadfly: Jews, British Jews and the Jewish State: Asking the Subversive Questions


Geoffrey Alderman

ISBN: 9781934843468 (hardcover) 
Pages: 290 pp.
Publication Date: July 2009

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Founded in 1841, the London-based Jewish Chronicle is the world’s oldest continuously circulating Jewish newspaper. Since 2002, its prestigious flagship “Comment” column has been written by Oxford-educated Dr. Geoffrey Alderman, the leading authority on the Jews of modern Britain, a prolific and controversial scholar whose views have attracted warm support and sweeping condemnation in equal measure. This anthology brings together over a hundred of his Jewish Chronicle op-eds on subjects as diverse as Jewish Orthodoxy, Ultra-Orthodoxy, Non-Orthodoxy, Islamic Judeophobia, Islamophobia, and Jewish approaches to politics and sex. “I have tried to be funny,” Alderman declares, “when occasion has seemed to me to warrant the deployment of a certain humour, which can be a valuable didactic tool and a powerful medium of communication. I have on occasion employed sarcasm and irony. But I have always tried to be scrupulously accurate as to facts, and to locate my comment within that groundwork. Above all, true to my vocation as a rebel who has refused to toe the communal line, I have always presented a point of view that is unashamedly mine.”

Geoffrey Alderman (PhD University of Oxford) is the Michael Gross Professor of Politics and Contemporary History at the University of Buckingham and is the acknowledged authority on the history of the Jews in modern Britain. In 2006, Oxford conferred on him with the degree of Doctor of Letters in respect of his work in this field.

In The Communal Gadfly, Alderman, professor at the University of Buckingham and author of Modern British Jewry, collects more than a hundred of his weekly columns from the venerable Jewish Chronicle since 2002, ranging widely in topic and tone. Though it represents only one man’s perspective, Alderman’s grab-bag of a book will be appreciated by historians half a century from now who want to establish what issues British Jews deemed worthy of discussion and debate in these years.
— Josh Lambert, Tablet
Factually fair, mostly cleverly balanced, and, at times, whimsical. . . . What is most attractive is the tone of Alderman’s natural voice. He has a rare ability to float above stylistic expectations, producing a fluid textual mix of the academic, the idiomatic, the conversational and the Yiddish.
— Barbara Jacobs, Times Higher Education