Blogs

Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.


  • 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.

  • Another week, another scandal

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 14, 2008

    Oh dear. Another week, and another corruption scandal for Ehud Olmert, still managing to drag out his inevitable political demise beyond all reasonable expectations. Now he is suspected of having double-billed for foreign trips as Jerusalem mayor and later as a government minister, using the money to fund his own family holidays. What makes a high-flying, ambitious politician potentially do something not only so low, but frankly so stupid? One can only imagine that it must be greed, arrogance - and confidence that the Israeli political system would let him get away with it.

  • Divorces increase in the Orthodox community

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 11, 2008

    The Wall Street Journal reports that the Orthodox 'Shidduch crisis', in America at least, has turned into a 'post-Shidduch crisis':

    The only thing worse than being an "older single" male, it seems, is being a 25-year-old divorcé with two children. It is women, though, who are usually more stigmatized by a split.

    "We're seeing more and more recently married, young Orthodox Jews getting divorced," says Mr. Salamon, who estimates that the divorce rate among the Orthodox has risen to an alarming 30% in the past five to 10 years. (Hard data are difficult to come by, Mr. Salamon says, because the Orthodox shun research studies for fear of harming their own or their children's shidduchim.)

  • Iran fakes pictures of its missile launch

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 11, 2008

    The Iranians have been busted by the New York Times for digitally manipulating an image of the missile test which so alarmed the rest of the world this week.

    Sepah News, the the media arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, distributed a picture of four missiles being fired into the sky on Wednesday. The photo was reproduced by, amongst others, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Chicago Tribune, MSNBC, Yahoo! News, NYTimes.com and our very own BBC News.

    Except it turns out that one of the missile images was, in fact, an amalgamation of two of the others, and was strategically placed in the picture in order to cover up a missile which had misfired.

  • Is there something wrong with today’s Jewish education?

    Craig Silver
    Jul 10, 2008

    Since joining the JC almost a year ago now I realise that my knowledge of Jewish sayings, words and portions have been heavily increased, mainly thanks to a certain Comments Editor. However, it does make me wonder: why wasn’t I given a better grounding of Jewish education in high school?

    From 11 to 18, I attended King Solomon in Essex. To be honest though, we only had one or two Jewish studies classes a week. I remember that not many students took them seriously. But we were always there, on time for our scheduled hour a week. That’s right, just one hour a week.

    I find myself lacking a lot of Jewish knowledge. For example, only a few months ago I found out what the word ‘nu’, a commonly used saying, meant. I had no idea. This was met with absolute shock from some of my colleagues. 

  • Gaza Ceasefire

    Daniella Peled
    Jul 10, 2008

    How long will the Gaza ceasefire hold? No-one has very high expectations, and neither side are putting great efforts into maintaining it. The armed Palestinian groups have been firing the odd rocket; and on Thursday, Israel killed an 18-year-old al-Aqsa Martyrs brigade gunman just by the border - the first fatality since the agreement was reached last month. The Kassams followed in quick succession.

    The big prize for Hamas would be the re-opening of the Rafah crossing to re-open, but it looks unlikely. Israel, for its part, does not expect this to happen. And Egypt, ever wary of being handed the responsibility for Gaza, has no interest in it re-opening either.

    Everyone wants the negotiations over captured soldier Gilad Shalit to be accelerated. But apart from that, there are few common interests in this ceasefire, beyond the civilians on either side of the Gaza fence who would like a precious bit of peace and quiet.

  • Frummer than the Chafetz Chaim

    Miriam Shaviv
    Jul 10, 2008

    A few months ago I wrote about how "modesty has moved from being about modest clothing to being about keeping women, and images of women, away from men."

    Here's the latest example. A historic picture of the great sage, the Chafetz Chaim, sitting in front of a building with two women standing behind him has had the women in the photo removed. Admittedly, I don't know when the Photoshopping took place, but the doctored pic was sent out recently by an American yeshivah as part of its fundraising efforts.

    Surely, if the Chafetz Chaim didn't mind the women milling around him, it shouldn't be a problem for us to see a fuzzy picture of the event? Or are we 'frummer' than the Chafetz Chaim nowdays?