Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • The proof is in the spanking

    Orlando Radice
    Dec 6, 2012

    If you were in any doubt that Bibi has made a boo-boo with the E1 settlement plan, here's the proof. Canada's Stephen Harper, probably the most pro-Israel prime minister in the world, has now also given Benjamin Netanyahu a spanking. Ouch.

  • Mazel Tov: a royal baby for Wills and Kate

    Jennifer Lipman
    Dec 3, 2012

    The wait is over. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child. According to St James's Palace: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby".

    With no word yet on whether the royal infant will be a boy or a girl, it's perhaps too premature to engage in a "will-they-won't-they" debate over whether they will choose to circumcise their offspring , as was once a royal tradition.

    But how did the Jewish communtiy react in 1982, when William was born? Well, as the JC reported on June 25 1982, we were rather excited.

  • Settlements - the view from Jerusalem

    Stephen Pollard
    Dec 3, 2012

    I’ve been trying to find out the thinking behind the Israeli government’s announcement that it intends to build a settlement of 3000 units in E1.Speaking to various Israeli government sources, here’s my take.

    The feeling in Jerusalem is that, no matter what agreements are signed between Israel and the Palestinians, the international community refuses to acknowledge Palestinian infractions.

    Instead, the argument goes, no sooner has Israel thwarted attempts to perpetrate a third intifada mounted by the Palestinians, than the United Nations rewards the Palestinian president with the new 'non-observer' status, and potential access to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

  • The ally you never knew Israel had: Micronesia

    Anna Sheinman
    Nov 30, 2012

    The inevitable has happened. The PA has been upgraded in the UN General Assembly with a huge majority vote.

    Israel was against the motion, as was its eternal ally the US, and Canada presumably does as it’s told. The traditionally pro-Israel Czech Republic also said nay.

    Perhaps more surprisingly to the casual UN live feed viewer, also pitching their tents in the anti-upgrade camp were the tiny nations of Palau, Nauru, Micronesia, Panama and the Marshall Islands.

  • A view from Tel Aviv

    Danny Caro
    Nov 22, 2012

    A must-read piece from someone I know only as a footballer. Until now ...

    I have never done this before, so forgive me if its rambling and doesn't make perfect sense. I am not usually one to let people in general know how I feel, but I just needed to get a few things off my chest.

    I think I have always felt that I as a Jew was very different to other people I met. I certainly wouldn't say I felt I was better than them, but I definitely felt like I wasn’t one of them.
    I grew up in a typical middle class home in North West London, never really having to worry about much. The concept of anti-Semitism only ever got as bad as some of the kids from the local comprehensive snarling in my general direction. When you compare it is an upbringing to almost all previous generations before me I would say I must have had it far better than almost all those before me, yet I could never shake the feeling that I was still very different.

  • New York after the storm

    Jennifer Lipman
    Nov 16, 2012

    I filled the My Week slot this week with a piece recalling my trip to Manhattan after the hurricane hit, and during election week. All told, an interesting time to be there.

    ● I'm on holiday in Manhattan and Sunday starts with a time-honoured New York tradition - a leisurely brunch with friends. We have booked at a place in the Village, and despite being without electricity for days thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the restaurant is up and running by the weekend.

    ● Walking in downtown Manhattan, although not as far as the flooded areas, it is clear the storm has had a serious effect. The streets are eerily quiet, with the papers filled with stories of misery and miracle, people charging phones at pop-up sites in parks, and bars advertising post-Sandy reopening dates. Dismayed runners from various countries are jogging all over the city, the annual city marathon having been cancelled at the 11th hour. A friend who helped clean up the worst hit areas reports over Shabbat lunch how gefilte fish was handed out to the needy by Orthodox Jews. We try to imagine how desperate we'd have to be to feast on what was once a staple heimishe delicacy.

  • Racism on the terraces - the shame of Beitar Jerusalem

    Marcus Dysch
    Nov 14, 2012
    A fascinating new short documentary looks at the vile racist abuse regularly displayed by the “fans” of Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem.

    American sports journalist Jeremy Schaap investigates the history of Beitar’s “La Familia” ultras who hound Arab players throughout the Israeli leagues.

    The ESPN film also features footage of the sickening attack carried out by Beitar followers at a shopping centre in the Israeli capital earlier this year.

    Club chairman Itzik Kornfein explains how the fans’ militancy has led to Beitar never buying Arab or Muslim players. Beitar is the only club in Israel’s top division never to have had an Arab player.

    Schaap interviews Arabs and Muslims from Israeli Premier League sides including Bnei Saknin and hears of the racist abuse and violence directed at them.

    Salim Tuama – who played 13 times for Israel and has made hundreds of appearances for Hapoel Tel Aviv – explains how even his feats for the national side could not protect him from the Islamaphobic bile spouted from the terraces at Beitar.

    Schaap also looks at the Israeli Football Association’s lacklustre attempts to punish Beitar for their fans’ actions.
  • We have an archbishop, but not a chief rabbi

    Simon Rocker
    Nov 8, 2012

    The new Archbishop of Canterbury will be formally named tomorrow - who is expected to be the Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby.

    It took the Anglican Church eight months to choose their next head after Rowan Williams announced he was stepping down in March.

    It was almost two years ago - December 2010 - that Lord Sacks announced his retirement as chief rabbi and his successor has still not been found.

  • A chink of light

    Orlando Radice
    Oct 26, 2012

    Here’s another crazy dream: Israel gets a stable two-party system. Now that Bibi and Lieberman have joined forces, we need the secular centrists to get their act together and form a coalition with the strength to make headway on issues such as the peace process and the separation of synagogue and state. Shelly Yachimovich has suggested it – and it’s a pleasing fantasy. Knowing how volatile Israeli politics is, however, it'll probably remain a fantasy.

  • My election misery

    Orlando Radice
    Oct 12, 2012

    For election-watchers, a cursory glance at the candidates likely to be battling it out in Israel next January is enough to make you roll over and go to sleep. But it’s not because Ehud Olmert (as yet undeclared), Shaul Mofaz, Avigdor Lieberman (if he survives his criminal indictment) or Shelly Yachimovich are especially monochrome political characters.

    It’s just that, at the moment, the outcome looks entirely predictable. Assuming the candidates mentioned above run, none look like coming close to budging Benjamin Netanyahu.

    While his opponents have spectacularly failed to capitalise on widespread anger about wealth distribution and lack of progress towards peace, Mr Netanyahu has been busy picking up votes in all areas of the political spectrum and on other issues. The Israeli religious right admire the way he has stood up to the secular, especially over the pared-down legislation to force Charedim to join the army, and his hard line on Iran has won him backing across the board. There is also considerable admiration for the respect he commands from the diaspora and beyond: it was reported this week that 97 per cent of his electoral campaign cash comes from foreign donors.