Your blogs

  • 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.

  • Is this it?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 17, 2009

    I am really getting long in every tooth. I feel I have been here so often before - for more than 60 years I have been charting Israel's search for a settlement with her neighbours, sometimes with a glimpse of possibility, most times with a sense of whistling in the dark (a dark so often illuminated with flares and shells and bombs), Tonight, moetze shabbat January 17, is this it? Will Israel's unilateral declaration of a ceasefire in Gaza open the way to the kind of Middle East peace settlement which most of the civilised world is looking for? Or is this but another temporary illusion of what might be? I wish I knew. I wish I was happy in my heart. I wish....

  • Heed the Bicom warning

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 15, 2009

    It is scarcely believable that Bicom, one of the community's premier agencies in making the case for Israel, was subjected to ten minutes of mayhem by a gang of pro-Palestinian supporters. who virtually wrecked its office. Doesn't Bicom have any kind of security which would enable them to isolate someone claiming to have a parcel for delivery? This sort of caller should surely be a cause for suspicion in any communal office at a time like this. But that a gang of people could pile in behind him, including one armed with a loud-hailer (not the easiest implement to hide), shows a shocking lack of security planning. The outcome could have been much worse of course. But if this incident serves to reinforce the message that the community cannot be too cautious, it will have served a positive purpose. Not every physical threat is going to come from someone with a dark skin wearing Middle Eastern dress.

  • Obama's top IT man

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 13, 2009

    One of the most powerful positions in US governance is the head of the Federal Communications Commission which, in brief, is in overall control of how America communicates to itself, by radio, TV and broadband internet, as well as its outreach to the world by those means and, of course, satellite. The FCC is necessarily a major component in the planning of Homeland Security and, essentially, can say “yea” or “nay” to any plans within the area of communications. So who heads it, matters. And who will head it in the Obama administration is an old friend of the President-elect from his Harvard Law School days and a man who is not only an all-round legal eagle (he clerked for a well-known federal judge with the wonderful name of Abner J. Mikvah), but also has extensive hands-on experience in the fast-moving world of technology. In addition to that, and it matters to him, he is the son of Holocaust survivors.

    Julius Genachowski, according to his cousin Rabbi Menachem Genack, who directs the well-known kashrut supervision organisation of the Orthodox Union (OU) in the US, attended yeshiva through high school and studied in yeshiva in Israel before going to Columbia and then Harvard, where he met Obama. According to Rabbi Genack, Obama and Julius bonded in part because both were outsiders - one a former yeshiva boy and son of immigrants, the other an African American with international roots.

    Rabbi Genack writes in his understandably proud blog that not only did the two men attend each other's weddings but that : “Julius tells me Obama has always been able to relate to the Jewish experience because of his own background as well as the African-American experience of slavery and discrimination. Julius knows that part of Obama's agenda is to heal the breach between Jews and blacks and to restore the close ties that existed during the civil rights movement.”