The Jewish Musician Who Risked His Path to Stardom to Keep the Sabbath

In 2011, the British pop singer Alex Clare had finally made it big: his first album was coming out, and he had been scheduled to go on tour with the singer-songwriter Adele. But Clare, raised in a secular Jewish home, had in the previous years embraced strict religious observance, and informed his producers that he would have to miss several concert dates because of Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The record company subsequently dropped him, until, as Paul Glynn reports

several months later, when the newly label-less singer suddenly found himself with a hit on his hands. “Too Close,” . . . from his debut album, began to work its way on to radio playlists and up near the top of the UK singles chart in April 2012, thanks largely to an appearance on a Microsoft advertisement.

“We have a saying in Hebrew, gam zu l’tovah, which means, ‘This too is good,’” says Clare. “We say that when something goes really badly wrong. It’s a crazy [thing] to have enough faith to say, ‘This right now is a really bad situation but ultimately God is good and life is good and this is for a greater good,’ whatever that might be. And in my case it really worked out that way.”

Nine years on, Clare is speaking to us around the release of his new single, “Why Don’t Ya,” another booming ballad which marks the end of his five-year hiatus. . . . The track . . . is an ode to his wife, with whom he “ran away” to Israel in 2015, with their firstborn (they now have three children) to “focus on spirituality” and study the Torah and the Talmud.

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Read more at BBC

More about: British Jewry, Judaism, Popular music, Sabbath

 

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine