Who says there's no pro-Israel lobby?

In South Africa, Richard Goldstone can't attend his grandson's bar mitzvah.

It seems that Judge Richard Goldstone, the respected South African jurist, self-professed Zionist and much-maligned author of the UN's fact-finding report on Israeli war crimes in Gaza, has been barred by the South African Zionist Federation from attending his own grandson's bar mitzvah in Johannesburg next month. The SAZF had threatened to protest outside the synagogue, thereby wrecking the child's ceremony. How nice of them.

Jewish blogger Richard Goldstein can't control his rage, and I don't blame him:

What have these people come to? What sort of Judaism is this? Do these people even care about religious values? Do they know what it means to be a Jew? Of course they don't have a religion in that sense because their real religion is Israel.

[Hat-tip Common Dreams]

 

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.