Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • 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.’”

  • The real danger of the BNP

    Marcus Dysch
    May 28, 2009

    I’ve never liked Rotherham.

    It was my first 'patch' as a trainee reporter in south Yorkshire. On the first day I was pounding the streets in search of news stories when a driver decided to purposely speed through a sizeable puddle at the side of the road, thus drenching me.

    Also, on the first day of the 1998/99 season I travelled to the town to see Hull City take on Rotherham. It was the start of Mark Hateley’s second season as Hull manager. He’d been built up as the saviour, the ex-England striker who would fire us up the Football League. This was going to be our year.

  • The 210 bus must go that extra mile

    James Martin
    May 28, 2009

    Orthodox residents in Golders Green and Stamford Hill desperately want a direct bus service between the respective areas, but the capital’s transport operator, Transport for London, is unlikely to listen to them.

    A four-month survey by transport watchdog London TravelWatch, which was published on Tuesday, shows there is heavy demand for either an extension to the current 210 bus route, which runs between Brent Cross and Finsbury Park, or a new route.

    However, the operator, which doesn’t have to adopt recommendations from London TravelWatch, is standing by its previous stance that “the cost of introducing a direct bus link can’t be justified”.