Blogs

Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.


  • Living in denial over Samir Kuntar

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 21, 2008

    Dion Nissenbaum visits Samir Kuntar, back home in Lebanon, and tries to explain the question haunting so many: How can the Lebanese possibly take pride in, even celebrate, a child-murderer?

    Clearly, many people - the majority - simply want to harm the Israeli "enemy". But Nissenbaum adds:

    Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Beirut-based political analyst and Hezbollah specialist, said people here simply don't accept Israel's version of events.

  • Brown in the Holy Land

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 21, 2008

    So Gordon Brown is taking a quick gallop through Israel and Palestine this week – Yad Vashem, the Knesset, Bethlehem, and so on.

    Personally, if I hear Brown meander on once more about learning about the Holy Land at his father’s knee I will spit. Enough with the cheap Brownie points already.


    Sadly he doesn’t have that much more to offer. His big shtick - sorting out the peace process through economic support for the Palestinians – is already being done rather more effectively by his predecessor Tony Blair, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much.

  • Barack Obama, Shabbos goy

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 18, 2008

    Colin Powell and Elvis Presley are two famous Shabbos Goys – they were both employed, in their youth, by Orthodox families to carry out certain acts forbidden to Jews on the Sabbath, such as turning lights on and off.

     But are they about to be eclipsed by one Barack Obama? According to Newsweek,

    In 1999, while still in the Illinois State Senate, he shared an office suite with Ira Silverstein, an Orthodox Jew. Obama peppered Silverstein with questions about Orthodox restrictions on daily life: the kosher laws and the sanctions against certain kinds of behavior on the Sabbath. "On the Sabbath, if I ever needed anything, Barack would always offer," remembers Silverstein. "Some of the doors are electric, so he would offer to open them … I didn't expect that."

  • The new Zionist weapon: giant, indestructable rats

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 18, 2008

    Palestine Today reveals the latest Zionist weapon, which they allege is being used against Jerusalem's Arab population: rats.

    Rats have become a weapon used by new Israeli colonizers against citizens in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, in order to displace and expel them from their homes.

    Districts in the old part of town are suffering and facing recently this new type of Israeli actions that aim to harass Jerusalemites in order to force them to leave...

  • A Chassidic rebel goes public

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 17, 2008

    The cover story in New York magazine this week is a must-read. It features Gitty Grunwald, a Satmar Chassid who lost religion, left her husband, and is now fighting her former spouse for custody of their daughter, Esther Miriam, 4:

    In early 2007, Gitty fled Kiryas Joel for good, taking Esther Miriam with her. At first, they lived in the relatively relaxed frum (Orthodox) community of Monsey, New York, then moved to Brooklyn. “It was just the two of us. I loved it,” Gitty says. Then in January of this year, as Esther Miriam was walked with her class to a Flatbush playground, she was taken, says Gitty, who believes her husband was behind the act.

    “Some KJ guys snatched her off the street. Esther Miriam said they were wearing masks. All she remembers was crying, crying so hard,” Gitty says, calling it the worst day of her life. “When they told me what happened, I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was being suffocated. I still do.”

  • US diplomatic overtures to Iran are good news

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 17, 2008

    A great scoop in the Guardian today about US diplomatic overtures to Iran. This kind of American engagement is good news.

    Washington is to set up a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in three decades, and US undersecretary of state for political affairs William Burns is to attend international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme. Israel is concerned over these moves, fearing that it marks a fatal weakening of the US position – no negotiations before Iran stops uranium enrichment. The US in turn insists that Burns presence at the talks is on one-off gesture, a test to see whether the Iranians are really prepared to engage.

    But this is a vastly symbolic move. For all the US caveats, it signals a reversal of a long-held strategy. And it can only strengthen an international coalition aimed at derailing Iranian ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons. The whole “Axis of Evil” nonsense made for a great soundbite, but a flimsy foreign policy.

  • Israel's POWs - as they were in life

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 17, 2008

    Israel's Channel two is carrying a video of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev's miluim (reserve duty) unit in 2004. The two men, who were buried today, pop up occasionally, smiling naturally at the camera and even flirting with it.

    For those of you who understand Hebrew, but even if you don't, perhaps there is no more appropriate time to take a moment and remember these two fallen soldiers - as they were in life.

    (Via)

  • Why were the terms of the POW agreement not clear in advance?

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 16, 2008

    Many have contended that the POW deal with Hizbollah is bad for Israel. Not only does it reward and encourage terrorism and kidnap, but Israel has – yet again – given up far more than it has received in return. Is 199 bodies and five live men in exchange for two bodies a good strategic move? And should Israel really have given up its most important bargaining chip, the murderer Samir Kuntar, without even getting any definite information on Ron Arad’s fate?

    But just as important a question is why Israel gave up so much – when it was unclear what it was getting in return. Although Israel was fairly sure that Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were dead, until the black coffins were passed over the border (and the identity of the bodies was confirmed, hours later) it was not certain. There was no definite proof, such as pictures of the bodies; the IDF rabbi had not declared them fallen soldiers; and the families still had reason to express a (faint) hope that the men might be alive.

    As The Jerusalem Post’s Calev Ben-David argues, keeping Israel in the dark as to the two kidnapped soldiers’ fate was a deliberate tactic for Hizbollah. For Israel to agree to any kind of deal without establishing and clarifying its exact terms in advance is strange negotiation. 

  • A Win for Hizbollah

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 16, 2008

    Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is a brilliant media manipulator. He managed to convince Lebanon and the wider Arab world that his group won a divine victory over Israel in the 2006 war, although in truth it was more a case of Israel losing than anyone winning.

  • Abu Mazen congratulates the family of Samir Kuntar

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 16, 2008

    According to Israeli radio (Reshet Bet), Palestinian President Abu Mazen has passed his personal blessings to the family of Samir Kuntar - the Lebanese terrorist who shot Danny Haran and drowned him in front of his 4-year-old daughter, then smashed her head against a rock until she was dead, and who will be released later today as part of the prisoner swap with Hizbollah.