Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • UJS's "radical, progressive" campaign? Sensible, or a cause for concern?

    Marcus Dysch
    Sep 16, 2011

    The Union of Jewish Students announced plans this week to launch a "radical, progressive" campaign, encouraging students to speak up for the rights and "liberation" of both Israelis and Palestinians.

    It includes proposals to ask Jewish students arriving at universities in the coming weeks to support "two states for two peoples" and hand out Israeli and Palestinian flags.

    The campaign has already led to online debate between students over how they want to be represented by UJS and what effect the proposals could have.

  • David Cameron, Durban and dancing at the UN

    Jennifer Lipman
    Sep 14, 2011

    Political life often seems to be something of a dance, a complicated balancing act in order to offend no-one, appease everyone and commit yourself to nothing.

    So kudos to David Cameron for (finally) deciding that Britain won't take part in the tenth birthday party of the Durban conference, an event supposedly about challenging racism that turned into the political equivalent of putting a kid in the middle of the playground and standing around pointing and mocking.

    Cameron said he doesn't want to commemorate a conference (actually, two, the 2009 review affair was also something of a hate-fest) associated with "open displays of unpleasant and deplorable antisemitism".

  • Struggling to pay the bills

    Simon Rocker
    Sep 2, 2011

    A poignant letter in this week’s Jewish Tribune reveals one family's battle to keep their head above water in these hard economic times.

    The anonymous writer used to raise money for Jewish schools, then he lost his job, home and became bankrupt. Life is now a constant struggle.

    For a while, paying Jewish schools weren’t a problem but then they became a “living nightmare” for him. I assume he is a member of the Charedi community and therefore has sent his children to one of the independent strictly Orthodox schools.

  • The riots and us

    Orlando Radice
    Sep 2, 2011

    As Britain continues to debate why thousands of young people smashed and looted their way through our town centres last month, one very obvious aspect of social reality seems to have slipped out of view.

    In fact, it is so taken for granted that many of us probably hadn't noticed it in the first place.

    It’s that, despite living in what we like to think of as a ‘melting-pot’ country, we don’t actually interact with each other that much.

  • Yes, it was self-defence

    Orlando Radice
    Sep 2, 2011

    Note to all who ever had an opinion on the Gaza flotillas: today’s UN report on the 2010 flotilla, the Palmer Report, finds that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is legal under international law. And that the Israeli commandos acted in self-defence.

  • Michele Bachmann: The (not) Jewish presidential hopeful

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 31, 2011

    As with every US Presidential election, the candidates are after the Jewish vote. (The fact that they'd also quite like to capture the Christian vote, the Muslim vote, the Humanist vote and the votes of the people who believe aliens walk among us, is not the point).

    Because we're not even in primary season yet, it's the many, many Republican hopefuls who are clearing their calendars to visit synagogues and community centres, hug Jewish babies and eat as much honey cake as they can stomach.

    Chief among them is Michele Bachmann. But apparently, she's already ahead in the race.

  • Practise what you tweet? Not these activists

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 25, 2011

    I'm all for legitimate protest, so while I might view a group called UK Friends of Palestine & (dissident) Israel with suspicion, I wouldn't want to say they shouldn't have a platform.

    According to the mission statement on their twitter page, they want: "To raise awareness for non-violent actions to open Gaza and end the occupation."

    But, they add: "We work for equality, peace and one day lots more love again between Arabs and Jews."

  • The next Chief Rabbi?

    Simon Rocker
    Aug 23, 2011

    It’s anyone’s guess who will be the next Chief Rabbi after Lord Sacks retires in two years.

    But two rabbis from abroad tipped as possible successors will be visiting next month and teaching on the London School of Jewish Studies High Holy Days programme.

    They are Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa, who will also be a guest speaker at Lord Sacks’s pre-Rosh Hashanah conference for rabbis.

  • Israel's forgotten man?

    Marcus Dysch
    Aug 17, 2011

    Travelling around northern Israel a couple of weeks ago something caught my eye.

    Along the motorways, in the shopping malls, in villages, I saw dozens of posters and billboards featuring a man's face and offering a $10,000,000 reward.

    It was a face I was entirely unfamiliar with. “Who,” I asked my Israeli friend, “is that?”