Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • The Obama show comes to town

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 23, 2008

    The Obama show has come to town. It’s a big day for the Democratic presidential candidate and all-round shiny wunderkind, which officially started with an 8 am breakfast with Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
    Then followed a mad rush to tick off all the requisite national icons – Yad Vashem, Ramallah, Sderot, Shimon Peres – before the finale at the Western Wall tonight.
    There will be no lack of kippah-wearing, Peres-hugging photo opportunities with which the presumptive leader of the free world can wow Jewish voters back home.
    Even better, Hamas issued a sneering accusation that Obama was trying to get to the White House “at the expense of the Palestinians".
    And some lovely Ramallah Democrat-loving Palestinian baker has even named a bagel after him.

  • Alter ego scenario is pure genius

    Danny Caro
    Jul 23, 2008

    South African bowler Andre Nel, who was 12th man for the first test against England, recently revealed that he has an alter ego called Gunter.

    This was one of the greatest insights into the mindset of a top sportsman I’ve heard for a long, long time. I think that top level sportsman need an alter ego to keep pushing them to the max.

    Not for one minute do I think that I’m a top level sportsman but I believe that there’s a place for alter ego’s in Jewish sport. Psychology is a major part of cricket and one of my problems used to be thinking too much about the condition of the pitch or which star players the opposition had before the game.

  • Why can't Gordon Brown pronounce 'Jerusalem'?

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 22, 2008

    Adam Boulton of Sky News is puzzled about one aspect of Gordon Brown's visit to Israel:

    He seems to have trouble with the word Jerusalem, repeatedly pronouncing it Joo-rislem. The only explanation we can find is that he’s trying to remember how his father, the Reverend Brown, named the Eternal City in Hebrew. I’m told that pronounced correctly in the local language the name should sound like Yerooshalyam (sic)

     Or is he making a political point: Jew-rislem?

  • 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.