Your blogs

  • Schnip and schnor

    Geoffrey Paul
    Feb 5, 2009

    Americans? You gotta love 'em. I loved one enough to marry her. But you must also agree that they boast more eccentrics than most among their number. An example is 79-year old Milton Sterman. On the day George W. Bush was re-elected for his second term, Milton vowed he would not have his hair cut so long as there was a Republican in the White House. With George W. gone and Obama elected, Milton had no choice but to submit to an upsherin, the name given to the ceremony in the ultra-Orthodox, usually chasidic community, when a boy receives his first haircut at the age of 3. Members of Congregation Beth Ami, Milton's Santa Rosa, California, Reform community, together with friends and family, gathered recently for what was advertised as a “schnip and schnor” session. For donations to charity varying from $1 to $10, they could snip an appropriately sized lock of Milton's unruly, long white hair. So many turned out for the privilege of shearing this bold soul, that $1000 was raised. According to the Jewish News of Northern California, where I read this epic tale, Milton'now rejoices in the fact that “Everyone says, when I take my hat off, that I look 10 years younger!” As I was saying, you gotta love 'em.

  • Full Marx

    Geoffrey Paul
    Feb 1, 2009

    You have to hand it to the hard Left for recognising global problems when they see them. Over the next month or so, the Socialist Party of Great Britain is offering a lecture series which will deal with “Capitalism USA,” “From Capitalism to Socialism” and “Global Capitalism.” But the first in the series deals of course with that most challenging of them all, “Israeli Capitalism.” Obsessives will be glad to know that admission is free and that the Guardian-and-sandals brigade is still on the ball.

  • Jewish performances at "One World Week"

    Simon Friend
    Jan 30, 2009

    As part of Warwick University’s “One World Week”, members of the Jewish Israeli Society performed live in the student union’s World Music Concert alongside the Israeli hip-hop violinist, Miri Ben-Ari.

  • Obama's shrewd move

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 27, 2009

    It was a shrewd move on the part of President Obama to give his first TV interview to Dubai's AlArabiya station which claims an audience of 23 million in the Gulf States. It demonstrated his concern to turn a new leaf in America's relations with the Arab world. I hope the viewers were impressed with his mention of his own Muslim family connections and his frequent statement of the fact that the US seeks a relationship with the Arab world based on “mutual respect and mutual interest.” I hope they also heard what he said about Israel: “Israel is a strong ally of the United States. It will not stop being a strong ally of the US and I will continue to believe that Israel's security is paramount. But I also believe there are Israelis who recognise that it is important to achieve peace and they will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and there is a serious partnership on other side.”
    This man could even give us reason to have hope....

  • Nice one George

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 25, 2009

    George Mitchell, the latest peacemaker appointed by the US to work on an Israel-Arab settlement, will need the sense of humour he displayed when he was introduced last week by Secretary of State Clinton. Just recently, he said, he spoke in Jerusalem about his peace-keeping mission in Northern Ireland and mentioned the 800 years of bitterness and hatred which separated the communities there. "Afterward, an elderly gentleman came up to me and he said, 'Did you say 800 years?' And I said, 'Yes, 800.' He repeated the number again – I repeated it again. He said, 'Uh, such a recent argument. No wonder you settled it.'"

  • Chat-up guru can’t help my inner creep

    Paul Lester
    Jan 22, 2009

    My New Year’s resolution this year was to make more effort, to go out more, to be more proactive with regard to meeting women because, let’s face it, they don’t just turn up unannounced at your front door — unless you count the haggard care-in-the-community type who tried to sell me kitchen appliances before Christmas. So last week I bought some new clothes — well, a woolly hat and a hoodie — and I snapped into action… before deciding it was too cold to leave the house and slumping in front of the telly. Again.

    But at least I watched a programme that might be useful in my bid to improve my love life in 2009. VH1’s The Pick-up Artist is a reality TV show from America starring a bloke called Mystery — his real name’s Erik — who offers masterclasses in the fine art of seduction to a bunch of nebbish losers. What do you mean, ring any bells?! I’ll have you know I once convinced a shop assistant in Borehamwood Ryman’s to go on a date with me using a skilled blend of begging and pleading.

    The Pick-up Artist teaches you how to ditch your inner creep by employing a series of complex strategies and techniques such as “negging”, a form of backhanded compliment designed to telegraph a lack of interest and encourage your potential mate (or “target”) to prove her worth (“qualify”) — for example, “Nice eyelashes. Are they real?” Of course, a Jewish woman, for whom the synthetic is a sign of luxury, will take this as straight praise and this particular tactic won’t work.

  • A little something for Shabbat

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 21, 2009

    A plant, a bouquet, a bottle of wine or, maybe, for a change a basket of nuts and preserved fruits – what are you going to take this time to your friends/neighbours/family when you go for kiddush/lunch/dinner on Shabbat? How about taking them nothing at all, except yourselves, and this time donating the cost of the gift to one of those charities (which means all of them) now suffering badly from the recession in which we are immersed? I will bet that, over any weekend, a minimal 0.5per cent of London's estimated 250,000 Jews are eating away from home. If they are only averaging gifts worth £5-£8 per bottle, basket or what have you, my impoverished mathematics suggest there is a potential of well over half-a-million pounds available annually for charitable causes. Will you have the guts to be among the first to tell your hosts that you donated to charity rather than to them? In truth, might they not prefer this and a phone call or note after the event to tell them how delicious was the meal and/or how delightful the company? I think this might be loads better than taking them an offering they really did not appreciate but over which they had to cackle appreciatively when you turned up with it on their doorstep.

  • Pointless in Gaza

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 20, 2009

    George Friedman is a political scientist, prolific author and head of a private US intelligence agency named Stratfor. He is usually worth reading, even when events do not bear out his predictions. This is an extract from his review of the problems immediately facing President Obama:

  • Brace yourself

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 18, 2009

    The barriers are about to come down allowing Western journalists the unfettered access they have been demanding to the Gaza Strip. All the pent-up frustration of reporters and photographers who had to watch the conflict from the Israeli side of the border is about to be given free rein - the consequence is likely to be a two or three-day orgy of horror stories beyond anything you have read until now. It will be just as well to prepare yourself for it.
    War is horrendous. War waged against an enemy deliberately embedded within a tightly packed civilian society has to be even more so. But don't be knocked out by the first rush to print. Wait for the more sober expert assessments of how the IDF applied every skill it has to avoiding civilian casualties and sympathise with both sides when, as inevitable, Israel's armed forces made mistakes.