Your blogs

  • Westminster not OK?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Dec 13, 2010

    If demonstrations are to continue in the vicinity of Parliament, which is likely given the controversial complexion of current British politics, is there not a strong case for moving all but the ceremonial occasions - like the Queen’s opening of a new session - to some extremity of the city where the life of London will not be disrupted by protesters? At a whim, a few thousand demonstrators can now disorder the transport, entertainment or commercial arrangements of millions of Londoners and draw down the police resources of every Metropolitan district. This is getting beyond the patience of many of us. We do not want our city taken over by the disaffected, with the consequent charge to our rates for their policing and medical services. Which of our London boroughs will come up with a plan for rehousing parliament in an appropriate setting, with suitable areas for demonstrations, while allowing the citizenry to get on with its everyday life? Westminster does not have to rule,  OK?

  • Aaron Sorkin, Sarah Palin and a politically expedient moose

    Jennifer Lipman
    Dec 8, 2010

    Is there a wittier Jewish writer out there than Aaron “West Wing” Sorkin?

    Having managed to convince a fair proportion of Americans to vote for Jed Bartlet in the 2004 election, he’s now looking ahead to 2012.

    Writing on the Huffington Post, he lays in to Republican maybe-candidate Sarah Palin, and how.

  • A shark named Mossad?

    Jennifer Lipman
    Dec 7, 2010

    We Jews have been accused of a good few things in our time. Control of the media, killing the saviour of mankind, yada yada yada.

    But I think this one pushes the boat out. Possibly literally.

    The ever-so-rational sounding governor of South Sinai, Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha, has a theory about the tragic deadly shark attack off the Sharm el-Sheikh coast.

  • So who's to blame?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Dec 5, 2010

    So who was to blame for the tragic Carmel fire? Why, God of course! You think this blasphemous? Well, on the basis of Israeli press reports, the Shas Chief Rabbi, Ovadiah Yosef, strongly implied in his shabbat sermon that the fire was God's punishment for desecrators of the sabbath. And it will not surprise those who see a horrible sort of symmetry between the religious outlook of Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists that the Hamas leader in Gaza also believed God had brought down divine punishment on Israelis. It is Rabbi Yosef. through his man in the Israeli Cabinet, Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, who has managed to extract millions of shekels from the Israeli taxpayer for yeshivot and their students. It is Mr Yishai, as the minister responsible for Israel’s firefighting services, who is going to have to explain why the force was under-equipped and under-manned. Which has just given me a glimmer of a good idea: how about requiring all those able-bodied young men and women excused service in the armed forces because of their religious studies to perform national service in the nation’s fire brigades? Mr Yishai might then be able to find some shekalim to equip Israel - a country of some dense forests and close-packed cities - with the minimal equipment needed to halt a major conflagration before it spreads. Would it be blasphemous to suggest that the Almighty would heartily approve of this?

  • A real Wikileak shocker

    Geoffrey Paul
    Dec 2, 2010

    Among the hundreds of thousands of classified US documents put into the public domain this week by Wikileaks, there is one I found particularly shocking. It is a long and comprehensive report on the alleged growth of organised crime in Israel, its increasing sophistication and its overseas connections. Sent last year from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, it lists names of what are claimed to be Israe’s leading crime families, their territories and their activities. Addressed not only to the State Department but also the immigration and homeland security authorities in Washington, it reports that the US consular authorities in Israel are working hard to prevent any of Israel’s gang members infiltrating into the US. It is the kind of document I might have expected to come out of some unpoliced, third world country. Not Israel. What underscores the shocking nature of the content is the title given by the US Embassy to its report: "Israel, a Promised Land for Organised Crime? " You can read it if you want to be disturbed at:

  • Ahmadinejad's Google Earth nightmare

    Jennifer Lipman
    Dec 1, 2010

    Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when Ahmadinejad last looked at Google Earth.

    There he must have been, going about his daily business – nuclear development, check, threats against Zionism and the Western world, check, attack on psychic sea creature, check – then suddenly...what’s this I see on Google Earth?

    It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be. But, wait. It is. It really is.

  • How was your shabbat?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Nov 28, 2010

    Another rocket fell in the Negev yesterday. No one killed so not worth more than a line or two in some of the Israeli press and none at all, of course, in the UK media. Not worth it with all that’s going on in the world. It’s different at the receiving end. A close relative who has children in one of the few kibbutzim which still remain in southern Israel e-mailed me after a similar rocketing incident last weekend. I quote his words without comment. There are things I would like to say to mollify him. I haven’t thought of any yet

  • Awaiting the other shoe....

    Geoffrey Paul
    Nov 25, 2010

    I had to admit here recently that I do not get out enough, but unless, I am very deaf, I have not heard the echoes in the national media we might have expected after the JC’s comprehensive report of Mick Davis’s critical comments on some Israeli policies. Those reverberations might come yet, of course, and those who put their hands to their lips and urge “not in front of our neighbours,” may still be right. Mr Davis’s words could still be picked up and used against Mr Netanyahu and Israel. But it’s more than a week now and even a fastidious reporter, who did not wish to soil an ear by holding it close to the ground, must have heard rumblings of a communal controversy. Why, even David Milliband has joined in.

    So why the silence? We know all the media read the JC by the freedom with which regularly they make off with its scoops. My own theory, still in the process of evolution, is that the newspapers, especially, just do not know how to handle this story. Here is a leader of Anglo-Jewry (and forget the Jewish Leadership Council, his role as head of the UJIA makes him a top leader) who speaks critical thoughts about Israels’ policies - or the potential outcome of those policies - which is not unfamiliar fare in the non-Jewish media. He seems to have the support of many of his peers. But Mr Davis and they remain dedicated to Israel, he most practically by heading the top pro-Israel fund in the land. Whoops! What’s going on here?

    It is going to be interesting to see how the press resolves this conundrum. Or maybe they will not even try. And, suddenly, we will find ourselves nonplussed by the fact that it doesn’t really matter what we say in front of our neighbours. They don’t care. Just think what that might follow from that…

  • What was that again?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Nov 24, 2010

    If you have seen this before don’t read on but, last night, at a shiva, the distinctly Orthodox and highly-reputed South Hampstead rabbi, read his prayers (davened for the cognoscenti) from an iphone! It was news to me but, apparently, all the weekday prayers, and the appropriate portions of the Torah, are available for downloading. Suddenly, technology is bringing us startlingly close to that day when you will need only to phone nine other men in order to have an instant minyan. There are some interesting halachic questions there. But I do want to be present on that day when He on High responds to an online prayer with “You called?”.

  • The Kestenbaum phenomenon

    Geoffrey Paul
    Nov 21, 2010

    There is enough top military brass (retired) in the House of Lords almost to furnish a parliamentary detachment of their own, among them former chiefs of staff, supreme commanders and medal-heavy generals. What, I wonder, will they make of the arrival in their midst of an ex-IDF soldier, a holder of the Israel army’s “outstanding soldier award”? That unusual distinction appears nowhere in the media’s biographical notes on last week’s elevation to the peerage of Jonathan Kesternbaum, one-time director of the Chief Rabbi’s office and subsequently holder of some of the most challenging posts in business and technological development in Britain. Most of the newspapers missed something else. too. While he is, as they report, currently executive director of NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, the largest endowment in the UK exclusively dedicated to fostering innovation, he is about to sit in an even more challenging seat. At the end of the year Kestenbaum - Lord Kestenbaum - will take over Lord Rothschild’s responsibilities as Chairman and Chief Executive of Five Arrows Limited, the investment company controlled by Jacob Rothschild’s family interests, while Rothschild will remain on the board of Five Arrows under Kestenbaum’s chairmanship. Mr Kestenbaum will also work closely with Lord Rothschild on the overall management of his family’s various philanthropic organisations. Howzat for a former mazkir of B’nai Akiva, born, of all places, in Tokyo, and only just 51? Oh, and yes, this - to me - young man, who will sit at the head of one of the most powerful capitalist outfits in the world, will take his other seat on the Labour benches!,