Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Israel - a "holiday" from Hell?

    Marcus Dysch
    Jul 25, 2011

    Admittedly I’m not a regular reader of the West Sussex County Times, but something in this week’s paper caught my eye.

    The paper has an exclusive, headlined “Woman describes her Israel trip from hell”, on page six of this week’s edition.

    It sounds a fascinating tale – the intro alone reveals how a West Chiltington woman told of her “ordeal in an Israeli prison”.

  • Deafening silence

    Jenni Frazer
    Jul 25, 2011

    The United Synagogue has a website called You and US, from which this week the aroma of sour grapes can be detected.
    It reprints on the site a letter from the registrar of the London Beth Din, David Frei, in response to a news story in the previous week's JC. This contribution is headed "Silence is Golden from the JC." It has already elicited one comment from someone signing himself "Creative Genus" [sic], applauding the US's move, which was made because the JC turned the letter down for publication.
    Now it is perfectly true that the US is entitled to use its own website for its own purposes. What is unfair is that the US did not tell its readers the reason the JC refused to publish Mr Frei's letter.
    Our reporter had repeatedly, over a period of a week, attempted to get David Frei to talk to us in order to reflect the position of the Beth Din in a complicated story about a get.
    Mr Frei was given every opportunity to speak to us, but chose not to do so. Instead, he sent a letter for publication after the story had appeared. This is called having it both ways, and the JC was not prepared to allow him this privilege.
    So US members who look at its website are only getting half a story. They might want to suggest to David Frei and, indeed, members of the Beth Din, that a more direct response to a legitimate media enquiry would be far more productive than this kind of behaviour.

  • The Mirror and Amy Winehouse's Jewish burial

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 25, 2011

    It seems clear that troubled star Amy Winehouse will have a Jewish burial, after a post-mortem examination.

    While a hungry media waits for more details: when, where, who will attend, will there be a shiva (OK, that one is less of a concern for the media at large), one newspaper decided to explain to its readers how Amy's behaviour in life could impact her death.

    From the Mirror:

  • Gerald Kaufman - spokesman for UK Jews

    Jessica Elgot
    Jul 20, 2011

    As if the Jewish community didn't have enough self-appointed representatives, Sir Gerald Kaufman has also decided to act as spokesman of the community.

    He demanded William Hague condemn Israel's new anti-boycott legislation at oral questions for the Foreign Office yesterday, asking the Foreign Secretary to “join the very many Jewish supporters of Israel in Britain, the United States and Israel itself in expressing utter disgust at the legislation”.

    It's a confusing statement. Does Sir Gerald count himself as a Jewish supporter of Israel? The same Sir Gerald who said Israel was worse than Iran because "at least it kept its theocracy within its own borders." The same who was caught by a microphone saying "here come the Jews again" when Louise Ellman spoke in the House of Commons?

  • A helpful Yiddish guide to phonehacking

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 20, 2011

    For all that Jews are supposed to control the media, the News International / hacking / News of the World / Brooks / Murdoch scandal has so far played out without much of a kosher angle. But never fear, it can still be interpreted with one. Over to Matthew Norman at the Indy:

    "Andy Hayman is a schtick fleisch mit oigen (imbecile; literally, a lump of meat with eyes), James Murdoch a nebbish (sad loser), his father a schvuntz (there you must rely on innate feel for onomatopoeia), and Ms Brooks a rosher (dead naughty)."

    Do you agree? Candidates for the shmucks and schmerils of the scandal so far in the comments below.

  • Notes on a (boycott) scandal

    Orlando Radice
    Jul 15, 2011

    There is a sad footnote to Israel’s passing of the much-derided ‘Boycott Bill’.
    The fact that Benjamin Netanyahu did not turn up to vote reveals the degree to which he is unwilling or unable to upset his coalition partners.
    Bibi is now trying to fight off a second bill whose democratic credentials are at best questionable – the proposal for a committee to be established to investigate human rights organisations – presumably thinking that the first concession should have been enough to secure his power base in the Knesset.
    Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is vowing “revenge” over this rebuttal, and Bibi’s tactics are looking more and more like fruitless appeasement.
    Talking of fruitlessness, anyone for peace talks?

  • The Next Chief

    Simon Rocker
    Jul 15, 2011

    A typically forthright contribution to the debate about the next Chief Rabbi from Rabbi Jeremy Rosen on his blog, who writes: "Not one Chief Rabbi since Hertz has stood up to the Beth Din. No new one will be any more likely to than his predecessors. The hounds of the religious right are already baying. At the moment the only voices standing for open, honest, intellectual Judaism are in 'academia'."

  • British Jews and Israel

    Marcus Dysch
    Jul 14, 2011

    Earlier this week I attended three events, on consecutive evenings, which revealed much about British Jews and their relationships with Israel.

    One discussed the rising boycott and delegitimisation campaign, another looked at support for Israel from the left, and the third was something altogether different, and, thankfully, more positive.

    On Sunday I watched my JC colleague Jonathan Freedland bravely attempt to argue the case against cultural boycotts despite overpowering anti-Israel fervour which at times bordered on outright antisemitism.

  • The mystery of Nick Robinson’s glasses

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 13, 2011

    At the Holocaust Education Trust's Student Ambassadors event last night (more on that in this week's paper), the BBC's Nick Robinson cleared up one of the biggest political mysteries of the week.

    No, not phonehacking. I'm referring, of course, to what happened to his signature spectacles.

    He revealed to the crowd that he had not, in fact, chosen a new pair. "I'm not that bold," he said. "It was simply that I smashed them and I couldn't find my spare pair at home."

  • It's good to talk (if you're a Jewish MP)

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 12, 2011

    They say Jews like to talk, and it seems Jewish politicians are no exception.

    Parliamentary monitor They Work For You have compiled a list of the most chatty MPs in the class of 2010.

    On the Conservative side of the bench, Robert Halfon is the overwhelming winner of the "most likely to talk in a debate award". He's spoken in a whopping 160 debates since he entered parliament for Harlow – 26 more times than the next talkative Tory.