Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • BNP in the line of fire

    Marcus Dysch
    Jun 9, 2009

    It was the calm before the storm.

    BNP activists were standing around joking about their electoral success. Waiting for their leader to arrive in Westminster for his first major press conference since winning a seat in the European Parliament, they exuded the cocky smarm we have become familiar with.

    But they weren’t laughing for long.

  • Madness

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jun 8, 2009

    In the week that marked the anniversary of the D-Day landings and a war in which the UK lost nearly half a million soldiers and civilians in the struggle to defeat Nazism, UK electors send two members of the British National Party to join their representatives in the European Parliament. Is there a national streak of insanity?

  • Goodbye Pret Tuna sandwich

    Candice Krieger
    Jun 8, 2009

    Far be it for me to question the ethical, and admirable, decision of one of the food industry’s most accomplished chiefs. But news over the weekend that Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe’s is removing the chain’s tuna and cucumber sandwich from the shelves has, I admit, left me a little concerned.

    Mr Metcalfe, shocked by a film outlining the dangers of intensive fishing methods, will remove all tuna sandwiches from the 150 shops across the UK. The chain is also taking premium bluefin tuna out of its sushi boxes and its sister chain Itsu.

    While of course his intentions are commendable – supermarkets have already followed suit banning bluefin from their fish counters – I just hope Mr Metcalfe will be replacing the tuna offerings. I am still mourning the loss of the tuna nicoise wrap, which was taken away so suddenly more than a year ago.

  • Also look the other way...

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jun 7, 2009

    Some friends of Israel, and many Israelis themselves, have been so forensic in picking through references to Israel in President Obama's Cairo speech that, to quote him from a press conference statement in Paris on Saturday, while “I've discussed the importance of a cessation of settlement construction... I also want to reemphasise, because that's gotten more attention than what I've also said, which is the Palestinians have to renounce violence, end incitement, improve their governance capacity so that Israelis can be confident that the Palestinians can follow through on any commitments they make across the table." Few commentators have so far seriously assessed what improving governance capacity means. In the first place, it must mean ending the internal strife between the Palestinian factions. Within the past 24 hours, Fatah has arrested Hamas members in the West Bank and Hamas has rounded up Fatah followers in Gaza, including one who reportedly died of a heart attack when apprehended and another who was accused of spying - he was charged with passsing information about Hamas to the Paletinian Authority. Every effort made by Cairo and others to bring the two sides to an agreement has collapsed. A final “reconciliation” meeting is due in Egypt on July 5. There is absolutely nothing to suggest it will be any more successful than the others. Mr Obama might yet find - like virtually every one of his predecessors - that his vision of peace is frustrated not so much by Israeli obduracy as by the inability of Palestinian leaders to stop burying the hatchet in their brothers' heads.

  • Sir Alan - you're hired (nearly)

    Candice Krieger
    Jun 5, 2009

    It is hardly surprising that Sir Alan has been appointed Enterprise Tzar to Gordon Brown - albeit "unofficially" at the time of writing.

    Come next week the Amstrad boss will have some spare time on his hands. His hit television show, the Apprentice, will be finished and he can leave his multi-million pound business in the capable hands of the series winners and his mini Sir Alans/Alanettes – assuming Kate wins that is.

    Jokes aside, Sir Alan, a long-standing Labour supporter and a close friend of the Prime Minister is well placed to advise the government on how to weather the recession. He already advises Downing Street on issues affecting enterprise and the economy, and is expected to push Britain's "green" and digital technology.

  • Have JDate boobed?

    Marcus Dysch
    Jun 5, 2009

    I gather there have been complaints from residents in West Hampstead about JDate’s latest billboard.

    The advert features a buxom woman holding a pint of beer and carries the tagline: “What’s more, she’s Jewish”.

    Her head has been sliced off the top however, leaving her cleavage as the er, focal point, of the poster.

  • Chicken Little, the sky is falling

    Jenni Frazer
    Jun 4, 2009

    Today's Independent gives over the whole of page 2 to a somewhat baffling story, Chicken injected with beef waste sold in UK.

    Its standfirst tells readers: Muslims and Jews conned into eating meat bulked out with cow and pig products.

    I have read this article several times now and I cannot find any evidence to support this assertion. If one eats kosher chicken, sold in a supervised kosher butcher's shop, the food chain is directly traceable to the shochet with, as far as I understand, no opportunity for the alleged adulteration to occur.

  • Oh, good grief

    Jenni Frazer
    Jun 3, 2009

    Yesterday The Times ran a story asking if the Novogratz family were the coolest in the world. They are, for those who have not read the story, a photogenic Manhattan-based family in which the parents, Robert and Cortney (no, that is not a spelling mistake, but something like a clue as to what follows), have done rather well on property speculation and renovation. So well have they done, in fact, that they are about to be embraced by reality tv, whose various Tarquin execs seem to think that R & C and their adorable brood will make for unmissable viewing.

    Yes, the children. There are seven of them, including two sets of twins. And their names simply defy belief. They are, in descending order, Wolfgang, 12, twins Tallulah and Bellamy, 10, Breaker, eight, twins Five and Holleder, four, and four-month-old Major. Not much goes with Novogratz, fair enough, but Five Novogratz?

    And I thought Sarah Palin's variety pack of Track and Trigg and Bristol were bad.

  • This is not Zionism

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 3, 2009

    Rabbi Sidney Schwartz, writing in the Jewish Week,exposes a disturbing incident that took place on this year’s Salute to Israel parade in New York:

    “Then a band launched into a rousing rendition of Am Yisrael Chai. I spent more than 25 years as an activist for Soviet Jewry. This was our theme song signaling solidarity both with the history of our people and with all those oppressed Jews in the world whose cause we championed. A group of young men in their 20’s with kippot and tziztzit were right in front of me dancing in a frenzy. But they alternated the verse that meant ‘the people of Israel lives’ with ‘all the Arabs must die.’ It rhymed with the Hebrew. Given the way all joined in, it was clear that this was not the first time it was sung.

    “I leaned over to a young man who was next to me, also wearing a kippah and tzitzit. I nodded at the dancers and asked: ‘Does this song bother you?’ He looked at me with a suspicious look and replied: ‘This is Zionism.’”