Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • 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.

  • Lord Sacks and the Whale

    Simon Rocker
    Mar 13, 2012

    I’ve heard quite a few people comment on the Chief Rabbi’s recent Jewish Book Week conversation with mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.

    I can't see that the Chief dropped any theological bombshells, although he did say, when asked about Jonah and the Whale, “No one has ever read these stories in the Jewish tradition literally.”

    Anyway, you can hear the exchange yourself because there is now a video of it on the Book Week website.

  • Chicken fun, all day long

    Jennifer Lipman
    Mar 1, 2012

    This is one for anyone in need of a distraction from work or study.

    Rosh Pinah Primary School (incidentally, the institution where I started my academic life) have set up a wonderful site with a live feed to the class pet.

    The Rosh Pinah ChickCam offers the chance to monitor these adorable fluffy fellows throughout the day. Enjoy.

  • Extraordinary

    Jenni Frazer
    Feb 27, 2012

    The news last week that there had been multiple resignations from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should have attracted rather more attention than it did. At least two of the resignations were whistleblowers who wanted to highlight the behaviour of a third colleague, the Prime Minister's bureau chief, Natan Eshel. Eshel has now resigned after admitting to sexual harassment of a female employee in the office.
    It really says something when the country's former president is in prison for multiple sexual harassment and rape, and still there are men who believe they can behave as inappropriately as they like towards women, secure in the illusion that they are untouchable because they are in positions of power.
    Eshel, plainly, learnt nothing from the Katzav affair. I do wonder, however, whether Mr Netanyahu himself has absorbed any useful lessons. He reserved his rage last week for his whistleblowing staffers because he had to learn about the Eshel situation from the media. Too much amour propre and not enough attention to what was going on, almost literally, under his nose.