Blogs

Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.


  • Keep me a seat in the Lords

    Simon Rocker
    Apr 26, 2012

    A parliamentary committee this week backed the government’s proposal that in future members of the House of Lords should be restricted to a maximum 15 years’ service.

  • Extraordinary

    Jenni Frazer
    Apr 25, 2012

    The Guardian's letters page and its adjunct Corrections column is a constant source of fascination. This week it excelled itself with a letter from Ben (I am not an antisemite) White, letters attacking the Globe Theatre for not withdrawing its invitation to Habima to perform in London, a correction for having traduced the JC over a BNP blog, and this little gem:
    "The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom Hashoah, a day of remembrance for the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: 'Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is.'"
    Well. Where to start? With one hand the Guardian giveth, with the other it taketh away. It carefully cloaks itself in we-love-the-Jews-hood by running the Yom Hashoah photograph in the first place. Even the Guardian couldn't find anything snarky to say in the caption.
    But wait! Yes, it had made a mistake according to the paper's style guide. It is the paper's style guide, you see, which carelessly runs roughshod across international norms of sovereignty and a country's right of self-determination. No matter that Israelis believe Jerusalem to be their capital; the Guardian style guide trumps that belief, as simply wrong.
    No ifs, buts, qualifications; the Guardian knows best. Here is The Times on the same issue: "Jerusalem must not be used as a metonym or variant for Israel. It is not internationally recognised as the Israeli capital, and its status is one of the central controversies in the Middle East." That's a reasonable and sane approach.
    Sad conclusion: the Guardian has lost the plot.

  • What Mel Gibson could learn from Lady Bracknell

    Jennifer Lipman
    Apr 12, 2012

    So, does Mel Gibson really “hate Jews” quite as much as Joe Eszterhas claims he does?

    According to Eszterhas, Gibson is an unrepentant antisemite, who used him to clean up his reputation after that infamous drink-driving anti-Jew rant, and all the rest. Mel Gibson will no longer star as Judah Maccabee, the Jewish hero and warrior, or at least not in the Warner Bros version of the film as scripted by Eszterhas.

    Eszterhas’ private letter to the actor, made public on a gossip website as all good Hollywood take-downs are these days, includes some pretty strong accusations; Gibson wanting to convert Jews through the film (he thinks his acting is just that damn good?), rubbishing the Holocaust (that old faithful) and repeating the blood libel of “the sacrifice of Christian babies and infants” (FYI, Mel, that’s not what the Torah says).

  • Drake's "re-barmitzvah"

    Marcus Dysch
    Apr 11, 2012

    Canadian rapper Drake is one of the hottest names in the music industry at the moment.

    His collaborations with Rihanna have propelled him to the higher echelons of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. He has written tracks for, and performed with, global megastars including Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and Alicia Keys. Drake has almost seven million Twitter followers.

    Drake – whose real name is Aubrey Graham – was born in Toronto in October 1986, the son of an African-American father and Canadian-Jewish mother, who sent him to a Jewish school and ensured he had a barmitzvah.

  • The Sheikh, the minister and the shambles

    Marcus Dysch
    Apr 11, 2012

    What a mess.

    From start to finish Raed Salah's deportation has been an utter shambles. The latest ruling – this time from the Upper Immigration Tribunal – arguably only deepens the sense that the authorities have lost control of the case.

    For Mr Ockelton and his colleagues to have ruled that the blood libel was invoked and admitted that Jews would be offended by Sheikh Salah’s comments, but ultimately found in his favour, only adds to the confusion.

  • Seth Cohen, still the same after all these Chismukkahs

    Jennifer Lipman
    Apr 5, 2012

    If someone (me?) was ever to rank television's greatest Jewish characters, my vote might go Seth Cohen, the geeky, Jew-fro-sporting, wisecrack-making son of Kirsten and Sandy in the pop culture phenomenon that was The OC.

    Josh Schwartz's drama series might have centred on the lives of the rich and fabulous in Southern California, but at the heart of the affair was an idealistic Jewish lawyer from the Bronx and his son.

    Adam Brody, the actor who brought Seth to life for four seasons, has been out of the spotlight since the series wrapped. But according to New York Magazine, he's back. In an interview with him this week, there was a gem that could have come from the mouth of Seth himself.

  • Angels of Mersey

    Marcus Dysch
    Apr 3, 2012

    Among the most valuable work being done to help Jewish students around the country is that of the dozens of chaplaincy families employed by organisations representing all spectrums of Jewish life.

    New BBC documentary Angels of Mersey follows chaplains of all religions working in Liverpool. Among them is Rabbi Shmuli Brown, Chabad’s representative at universities in the city.

    Last night’s episode showed him at work and featured his efforts to engage with young Jews arriving for Freshers’ Week. Rabbi Brown explained how he is contacted by worried parents and carries out meticulous online research to find out who will be studying on Merseyside and what assistance they might need.

  • Ken means I can't back Labour

    Jessica Elgot
    Mar 28, 2012

    I'm thinking of starting a support group. Our community is full of charities and counselling services covering every cough, spit and ailment in the medical dictionary. But I think we need another.

    I'd call it "I used to vote Labour, but now I don't know what to do." To those six Labour supporters who wrote a letter to Ed Miliband last week, expressing their concerns about Ken Livingstone's obsession with Israel, to the brave Jonathan Freedland, I say: "Comrades! You are not alone!" Together, I daresay we could add hundreds of signatures to that letter. Figures seem to suggest one in three Labour voters won't back Ken.

    I imagine we'd sit in a semi-circle, heads in our hands, recalling how Ken campaigned for Lutfur Rahman - an independent with alleged links to the Islamic Forum of Europe - to be mayor of Tower Hamlets, rather than the Labour candidate. We'd grimace at the memory of his chumminess with controversial Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

  • Wilful blindness

    Jenni Frazer
    Mar 23, 2012

    Our story this week about Ken Livingstone's remarks, which prudence dictates we should still refer to as alleged, is fascinating on a number of levels. For new readers, Livingstone apparently dismissed the possibility of most Jews voting for him, because Jews were "rich" and thus unlikely to vote for the left.

    Leaving aside Livingstone's effrontery at even suggesting such a thing, it makes no sense even in his own terms. It is well known that Livingstone has spent many years cosying up to the community in Stamford Hill, whom he perceives to be "real Jews," not the inauthentic, ersatz model who give him such a hard time over inconveniences like the Oliver Finegold incident and all the other "difficult" baggage which he trails with him.

    It cannot have escaped even Livingstone's blinkered world view that surprisingly few of the Stamford Hill crowd fall into the "Jews are rich" category.

  • When George Clooney met a rabbi...

    Jennifer Lipman
    Mar 22, 2012

    When we think of Hollywood, we think of bright lights, red carpets, emotional speeches and fast-talking agents. We think of sparkly dresses and glamour, of put-upon-screenwriters and waiters waiting for their big breaks. We don't really tend to think of rabbis.

    But perhaps we should. Because, despite sounding like a contender for the "film pitch that is least likely to see the light of day award", have you heard the one about George Clooney and Rabbi Steve Gutow?

    Gorgeous George and Rabbi Gutow were among the motley crew of politicians and activists who were arrested last week during a demonstration outside the Sudanese Embassy.