Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • England squad visits Auschwitz - the right move

    Marcus Dysch
    Jun 8, 2012

    The England players who visit Auschwitz today are sure to have a moving experience.

    Ever since former boss Fabio Capello decided to base the squad in Krakow for the Euro 2012 tournament, the FA has worked hard to ensure the right tone is set.

    Their partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust is an impressive one. Today’s visit is not just a quick tourist stop-off for Roy Hodgson’s men; it is the first step in an educational programme that will benefit not only the players, but thousands of British schoolchildren.

  • GCSE antisemitism: the hidden question

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 1, 2012

    There has been a sharp divergence of opinion among Jewish educators about the wisdom of the question set in a GCSE religious studies exam this year, “Explain, briefly, why some people are prejudiced against Jews”.

    Some believe it was an open invitation for children to express antisemitic views. Others point out that there was little risk of this since the question appeared in a Judaism paper and reflected a prescribed topic about stereotyping and scapegoating that those sitting the paper would have studied. The exam board says that so far responses to the question in exam papers show that students correctly understood its intention.

    Many of the 1,000 pupils who sat the paper would have been pupils at King David Manchester and JFS.

  • Antisemitism & Its Antidotes (3)

    Winston Pickett
    May 31, 2012

    Part of the joy that comes with investigation and research is the intellectual ride. You’ve got your topic. You may even have a working hypothesis to test. You prepare your field of inquiry and formulate your questions.

    If it’s a newspaper story, you line up your interviews. If it’s a research paper, you fire up your search engine.

    Now things start to get interesting. You start fine tuning your questions as your preliminary research begins to reshape the thrust of your inquiry. Your thesis begins to evolve and suddenly you discover a new angle that’s even more compelling than the one you began with.

  • Avram's Journey

    Marcus Dysch
    May 30, 2012

    Avram Grant has in the past revealed elements of the remarkable story of how his late father, Meir Granat, survived the Holocaust.

    But last night BBC Radio Five Live broadcast a new, chilling documentary with Grant, retracing the steps his father and grandfather took more than 70 years ago.

    Football Focus presenter Dan Walker travelled with the former Chelsea manager to the Polish village where Grant’s family lived, and then continued their journey to Auschwitz, where almost the entire family was decimated during the Shoah.

  • Should Orthodox deputies cover their heads?

    Simon Rocker
    May 24, 2012

    One of the novelties of the vice-presidential elections at the Board of Deputies on Sunday was that they were live-streamed, enabling web spectators to follow events.

    The same was also true of the hustings a few days before, where the candidates also had to endure the sight of sometimes critical commentary on their performance being tweeted on a live screen by outside viewers as well as members of the audiences.

    Meanwhile, here is one view of Sunday’s events which was blogged by Bnei Akiva deputy Noah Nathan:

  • Spot the Israeli flags at the Champions League final? This lot did...

    Marcus Dysch
    May 22, 2012

    During Saturday night’s Champions League final some of you will, I expect, have noticed two Israeli flags displayed in the stands.

    I spotted them in the first half – hanging at pitch level just near the halfway line – and then thought little more about it. Every now and again when they flashed across the screen they caught my eye, but they were really rather secondary to the remarkable match unfolding before my eyes.

    But while I and more than 10 million other Brits were watching Chelsea win London’s first ever European Cup, others were busy enquiring as to why the flags were there.

  • Antisemitism & Its Antidotes (2)

    Winston Pickett
    May 21, 2012

    Teaching can be the ultimate instructor. It is where your most basic assumptions are challenged, amplified – or both.

    Take the notion that simply ‘talking’ about antisemitism would spark debate. If I had any doubt that introducing the subject would lead to a spaghetti junction of contentious issues and live-wire associations – those misgivings were jettisoned during the first 20 minutes of my first class.

    With the mere introduction of the topic and the ostensibly ‘safe’ route of asking participants to say what they understood by antisemtism, it didn’t take long before a Pandora’s Box of competing definitions burst open. Anti-Zionism, anti-Israelism, racism, Jew-hatred and xenophobia all clambered for recognition while hot-button local events vied for equal time as concrete illustrations.

  • Did Mossad send a big-nosed bird to spy on Turkey?

    Jennifer Lipman
    May 15, 2012

    Could a Jewish Mossad agent have been masquerading as a bird to gather intel about Turkey?

    Remember when the Saudis captured a vulture on suspicion it was spying for Israel? Or the bizarre claim that the Sharm el-Sheikh shark had been sent by Israel to attack unsuspecting tourists? Well, to add to your list of spurious claims made by Israel's enemies about Mossad's dastardly tricks, I bring you the big-nosed bird spy.

    Apparently, the Turkish authorities are in a bit of a flutter about a European Bee-Eater (it's a species of bird – who knew?) that was recently found dead in a field in Ankara.

  • Deadly comments

    Simon Rocker
    May 14, 2012

    Last week’s Torah portion of Emor ended with the unhappy of a story of a man who was stoned for cursing God.

    Despite the biblical precedent, however, the rabbis, always reluctant to impose the death penalty, later made it extremely difficult to convict for blasphemy.

    Alas, modern trends seem to be going in the opposite direction. Kuwait is the latest country that has moved to make blasphemy (against the Prophet Muhammad) a capital offence. According to the Tablet, the crime was previously punishable by imprisonment (which is bad enough). The national assembly has passed a law to introduce harsher punishment, although it must still be approved by the Emir.