Your blogs

  • Bibi's guns go missing

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 7, 2010

    Proof that you should never, ever pack anything remotely valuable in a suitcase.

    He might have been off to meet the most powerful man in the world, but while Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the White House to see Barack Obama with no problems, his luggage didn’t.

    Four pistols belonging to one of Bibi’s bodyguards went missing somewhere between New York’s JFK airport and Washington.

  • Reuters PhotoShock

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 6, 2010

    The Economist magazine has been left red faced after it emerged they edited a photograph of Barack Obama pondering the oil spill in Louisiana.

    On their June 19 cover the president was pictured staring out at the sea alone – but it turns out the two people who he was standing with were simply photoshopped out.

    Reuters, who took the original photo, weren’t too happy. They issued a statement huffing that they have “a strict policy against modifying, removing, adding to or altering any of its photographs”.

  • Parting shots

    Geoffrey Paul
    Apr 11, 2010

    It was impossible, of course, for the Mother of Parliaments to go into pre-election recess without finding the opportunity for some parting salvoes fired in the direction of Israel. The Noble Lords set aside time for what they desctibe as "a short debate" sparked by a question from Lord Dykes of Harrow Weald (once Hugh Dykes MP who flip-flopped from the Tories to the Lib Dems and whose expenses claims - according to the SundayTimes - are based on the fact that his main home is in, wait for it, Normandy). His Lordship's question: "To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Israel regarding their duties under internatiomal law and the road map for peace?"

    This presented the opportunity for some of those who never are averse to putting in the boot to have their knee-jerk reaction to the very appearance on the Order Paper of the name of Israel. There were one or two who tried to maintain a balanced view, no more. What was plain was the paucity of Jewish peers (it being the last day of Pesach) who could attend at the House to speak in Israel's favour. Lord Haskell was one. Lady Deech (Ruth Deech as was) was another and she was impressively to the point, not least in querying why Lord Dykes had raised the issue of Israel yet again. This is the Hansard record of her opening remarks:

    "My Lords, it is customary to congratulate a noble Lord on securing a debate on an important and topical subject.Unusually, on this occasion I am not certain that there is anything singular about the debate. We have had 143 Questions in this House about Israel in the past 12 months. On my rough count, the noble Lord, Lord Dykes, has put down more than 40 since the start of 2009. Indeed, he has asked 193 Questions on this subject, and initiated three debates, since he entered the House. One may well wonder what effect these have had and why his party’s Weltanschauung is so narrow. I imagine that the suffering people of Zimbabwe, Burma, North Korea, the Western Sahara and Tibet would welcome similar attention to the minutiae of their oppression. Before anyone says that Israel should be held to a higher standard, let me say that the rule of law applies to all equally. It is not right to apply a higher standard to some and let off others who abuse human rights with a lower standard."

  • If Not Now, When?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Mar 24, 2010

    For about 18 months, a group of mainly Harvard professors from various academic disciplines have been meeting weekly for two hours to discuss the Israel-Palestinian conflict and ways out of it.  They call themselves the Boston Study Group on Middle East Peace.  They set their sights on a publication stressing the role of U.S. foreign policy, and basically arguing toward more proactive, persistent and resolute engagement on the part of the U.S. toward a two-state solution. They have just published their conclusions in a 90-page online document entitled "Israel and Palestine - Two States for Two Peoples: If Not Now, When?"

    Although each of the group wrote an individual, signed paper, they came together in agreeing a set of conclusions which argue, in part, "The benefits of a two-state solution are incontestable, and genuine progress must be achieved quickly. Continuing the status quo—fruitless negotiations, Palestinian divisions and the steady expansion of Israeli settlements—may soon make it impossible to create two states for two peoples. The result would be the latest in a long line of tragedies: extremists on both sides would be vindicated; America’s image would suffer, complicating foreign policy in a crucial region; Israel would cease to be a democratic and Jewish-majority state and be condemned as an apartheid society; and the Palestinians would continue to suffer in poverty and powerlessness.

    "Therefore, achievement of a two-state solution should be a top foreign-policy priority for the United States. Although many observers look at past failures and despair of future progress, there is now widespread recognition that a two-state solution is the only outcome consistent with the principles of attainable justice."

  • My friends are all revising, but I’m busy buying cake

    Naomi Bloomer
    Mar 18, 2010

    We are well into second term and the year feels as if it is almost over. Most of my friends have their third term stuffed with exams and revision classes. But I have only two exams in the first week of May and then I’m home free.

    Should I be glad? Probably. But the reality is I’m jealous. They all have something worthwhile to do with their time, which requires them to use their intelligence and studious nature.

    On the other hand I spend my time walking into Sainsbury’s and saying “ugat shoqolad” [chocolate cake]. That’s my revision.

  • Some of his best friends

    Geoffrey Paul
    Mar 17, 2010

    Aren't we fast tipping over the edge from hysteria into psychopathology when the brother-in-law of the Israeli Prime Minister labels the President of the United States an anti-semite? Hagai Ben-Artzi told Israel Army Radio: "Think about it. If you had heard of someone who for 20 years sat in church and heard anti-Semitic sermons and didn't get up to leave after two weeks, wouldn't you think he identifies with it? As a politician running for presidency he had to hide it, but it comes out every time and I think we just have to say it plainly: 'There is an anti-Semitic president in America'."

    This is presumably why the White House appointed Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff to the President; David Axelrod, Senior Advisor; Ronald Klain, Chief of Staff to the Vice President; Larry Summers and Paul Volcker,Economic Advisors to the President; Tim Geithner, Treasury Secretary, and Peter Orszag, Head of Budget.

    Or are they all self-hating Jews?

  • The Fifth Question

    Geoffrey Paul
    Mar 16, 2010

    Do you want something to think about over Passover? How about this - there are 400,000 Jewish students on campus in the USA at any one time.

    The chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, who is more aware of what is going around the US Jewish community than any one else, reports: "Young people don't feel an innate connection with Israel anymore."

    Fifth question for Passover: What is the implication of this?

  • Kaddish at night

    Geoffrey Paul
    Mar 11, 2010

    Being insomniac has its rewards. Some time in those long hours before the dawn, at which point you are liable annoyingly to fall asleep, the BBC World Service (which carries on when Radio4 closes down at 1 a.m.) had a fascinating programme, commentated by Rabbi Naftali Brawer, on the probable origins, efficacy and place of the kaddish in Jewish life. It was without doubt one of the best things on Judaism the BBC has done in recent years. Even the Chief Rabbi contributed some meaningful thoughts on what kaddish meant to him and there were women mourners who spoke of their problems in having their kaddish sidelined by their Orthodox menfolk. But what really threw me - was it 4 a.m. or thereabouts? - was the all-female choir (Reform?) whose voices singing the kaddish punctuated the programme. Is there something we should know? Listen to the programme for yourself at:

  • Karpe Diem (or very fishy)

    Geoffrey Paul
    Mar 9, 2010

    If the Jewish world collapses suddenly, it will be the result of no Iranian missile, Islamisr terrorist attack or fascist onslaught. It will be because victory has gone to the aptly and wonderfully named Rabbi Karp in his efforts to have salmon declared treif (not kosher). Can you imagine, salmon, or lox, that mainstay of every Jewish social gathering, from an engagement to a circumcision, the highlight of synagogue breakfasts, the major ingredient of picnic lunches on the beaches of all five continents, the quick consolation, with hard-boiled eggs, for mourners - salmon not kosher?

    At first I thought it was some great Purim leg-pull but I have now had confirmation from more than one source that the school of thought which has cast doubt over the use of shabbat lifts, attendance at chassidic rock concerts or surfing internet sites has come up with a challenge to the kashrut of wild salmon. The argument of Rabbi Moshe Karp, of Mod'iin Ilit, in Israel, presented in Yiddish to a gathering of his peers in Brooklyn, is that a parasite common to the salmon makes it not kosher.

    He dismisses the fact that decades of ultra-orthodox arbiters have cleared the well-known and inifinitesimal parasite of any guilt in determining the kashrut of salmon by arguing that his halachic predecessors did not have access to the technology available today. This, he said, revealed that, through mutation, the parasite has developed into something else and that something else (don't ask me) makes salmon not kosher. And, for good measure, he includes in his ban American flounder, which we would identify as plaice, and - you've got to believe this - halibut.