Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Lerman on Lieberman

    Simon Rocker
    Aug 6, 2009

    In yesterday’s Guardian Antony Lerman had a crack at Israel’s controversial Foreign Minister and leader of the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, Avigdor Lieberman.
    Among other things, he wrote: “In the UK, Jewish leaders have been silent on the dangers he represents. Have we heard a peep out of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on the subject?”
    But what’s this from the JC six months ago, headlined “Lieberman’s success horrifies UK leaders”.
    Here’s Simon Hochhauser, president of the United Synagogue, “I think his views are appalling.”
    And Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, senior rabbi of the Masorti movement: [Yisrael Beiteinu’s platform is] "more than disturbing, it is horrifying. It seems to me a betrayal of values of the Declaration of Independence which offers a very explicit vision of equality for all the citizens of Israel.”
    And Rabbi Tony Bayfield, head of the Reform Movement, “Lieberman is the worst and most unpleasant manifestation of a right-wing nationalism by people who have given up hope about being able to do a deal with the Arab population.”
    And Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, was worried that “some of his reported views could threaten the stability of an Israel in which the Arab minority can thrive”.
    And Rosalind Preston, a former vice-president of the Board of Deputies, who was “deeply troubled that a Zionist state that was set up full of noble ideals should at this stage be prepared to vote in an extreme nationalist party. If they came into power, the chances of having a peaceful future, not only within Israel itself but with its neighbours, becomes even more unlikely.”
    Some silence.

  • No idea

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 5, 2009

    There's a fascinating piece in Vanity Fair about by Michael Wolff. Here's the thesis:

    In the fourth issue of Wired magazine, in the fall of 1993, just as the Internet was entering public consciousness, Michael Crichton, the author of The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park,
    wrote an essay arguing that newspapers were doomed because they were
    too dumb. As information became cheaper, more plentiful, and easier to
    get, consumers, he argued, would become ever more immersed in their
    specific interests and understand that their more generally oriented
    paper—at least in the matter of a reader’s special interest, but also
    by inference everything else—had no idea what it was talking about.

    Sixteen years later, the ultimate result of Crichton’s theory about
    the fallacy of general-interest news—and, as a corollary, the answer to
    the riddle of who’s going to report the news when traditional,
    general-interest news organizations stop doing it—is, for better and
    worse, Politico.

  • PR perfection

    Jenni Frazer
    Aug 5, 2009

    "Dear Jewish Chronicle,

    Please find below brief details of a forthcoming title that we think may be of interest to your readers:

    The Christian Prayer Deck (£12.99 Card Pack - September 2009) Christian prayers extend far beyond traditional Biblical wisdom. From a range of sources around the world from antiquity to recent times, they provide wisdom and guidance for our daily lives. The cards in this deck focus on love, forgiveness, courage, grace and thanksgiving."

  • El Al's pants deal

    Candice Krieger
    Aug 5, 2009

    Now I know that business is business, but I find this El Al deal slightly strange.

    According to Israeli reports, the airline has signed an agreement to sell Victoria's Secret beauty products on flights from September. Nothing out of the ordinary about that. It is the plan to introduce a lingerie line, which seems a little misplaced. While I am definitely not one to turn down shopping opportunities, lingerie is something that is probably best tried on - bit tricky on a plane, where there is just about enough room to sit down (with your bag placed firmly under the seat infront of you). It will be interesting to see how it goes down with the more Orthodox passengers.


  • Don't look now...

    Geoffrey Paul
    Aug 4, 2009

    New neighbours are moving in. Their goods and chattels have arrived aboard a huge pantechnicon. It has travelled all the way from the Czech Republic. The name of the moving company, written in large letters, is GOLEM. The company can be reached at a website in the Czech Republic which begins “www.Golem...” Should we be worried?

  • Obama 'birthers'

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 4, 2009

    A new litmus test has emerged in the US, which helps weed out the nut-jobs with admirable clarity. It's the charge that President Obama was not, in fact, born in the US but in Kenya. (See this, this and, hilariously, this as examples.)

    The evidence for this claim is entirely non-existent. There's more evidence that little green men from another planet have visited us (I am being sarcastic, btw; I was taught a long time ago that sarcasm doesn't work in print).

    But despite the fact that the claim is away with the fairies, there are a number of supposedly serious Republicans who make it.

  • How clever?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Aug 3, 2009

    I have read and tried to work my way through the history and legal argument about the properties in East Jerusalem from which, this week, Arab families have been forcibly evicted and into which Jewish settlers have been allowed to move. I must confess that I still do not know who was right. What I do know is that, in terms of public relations, Israel has shot herself in the leg again by sending in the police to enforce its rights. How many points does it win her in the court of public opinion to be seen ousting people who - apparently, and I have no proof - have lived under the same roof for 50 years? What does it say about Israel's ability to live in peace not just with her neighbours but with her own Arab citizens? Sometimes, I must confess, I just shake my head in disbelief at the miscalculations of successive Israeli governments. Who was it ever said anything about “clever Jews”?

  • Still the Middle East's beacon of tolerance?

    Jessica Elgot
    Aug 3, 2009

    The attack on the gay youth advice centre in Tel Aviv was a tragic set back for the country which has set the standard for gay rights in the Middle East.

    But as blogger Chas Newky-Burden points out:
    "In many of the countries surrounding Israel, the government and police would not be condemning and hunting somone who murdered gay people - they would be committing the murders themselves as part of their barbaric legal systems."

    The worst thing that could happen as a result of these heartbreaking murders now is that Israel is categorised, along with its neighbours, as a hotbed for violence and intolerance against the gay community, when the country has in fact led a shining example.