Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • 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?”

  • Manners maketh

    Jenni Frazer
    Aug 8, 2011

    Just when London and the metropolitan manners are getting truly awful, a timely reminder that there is life outside the Great Wen and, indeed, it is courteous.
    I spent part of last week in Scotland, on the Isle of Arran and in Glasgow. The really striking thing about both places was the friendliness and politeness in shops, public transport, and restaurants. Not just regulation pleases and thank-yous; genuine, unforced greetings, people stopping in the street to help, incredible service in shops, whether we were buying or not. My friends and I asked someone the way in the street; she thought about it, told us, and then, realising that she had misled us, ran after us to re-direct us, and then waited at the place to make sure that we got there safely. Fairly extraordinary behaviour if one is used to the sheer surliness of the London commuter.
    I'd like to swank and say that my fellow Scots are known for their devotion to politeness but I don't actually believe that to be the case. Rather, London is so full of bile that any departure from the "norm" is a much appreciated surprise. Almost certainly most places outside the capital are like this. We just forget, unfortunately.

  • Jody McIntyre and the Tottenham riots: quelle surprise

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 8, 2011

    Two days after the worst rioting in Tottenham since the 1980s, and the facts of what happened are slowly coming together.

    What's already fairly clear is that not all the rioters were locals; as David Lammy MP noted in the Times: "Many of the people arrested weren't from Tottenham. The grief of one family must never be hijacked to inflict grief on others."

    Coming after months of social unrest and protests, particularly in the capital, the idea that a peaceful protest could be hijacked by the more anarchic elements in society should come as no surprise.

  • Talking won't make all the bigots shut up

    Jennifer Lipman
    Aug 2, 2011

    Ten days on from the horrific massacre at a Norwegian youth camp and the debate about the far-right, extremism and multiculturalism continues to rage on the comment pages and blogosphere.

    Libby Purves, writing in The Times on Monday, raised a good point, arguing that compulsory English lessons would integrate immigrants and undermine the extremist cause.

    She writes: "One thing would - and must - make a difference, and that is language. Communication. Humans are social animals, and once you converse with a person - however different - you create a bond and open the way to partnership, even friendship.