Your blogs

  • Praying for Bibi

    Geoffrey Paul
    Feb 11, 2009

    There is someone who must be praying – literally – for Bibi Netanyahu to become Prime Minister of Israel. A theme of Netanyahu's election campaign was that “We have demonstrated in the past, and will continue to demonstrate, our commitment to a complete, undivided Jerusalem.” Which is just what veteran Christian evangelist Pat Robertson wanted to hear.

    Speaking last week on the Christian Broadcast Network, Robertson warned that the Battle of Armageddon will take place not in Megiddo, in the Galil, but in Jerusalem if “the forces of all nations come together and try to take Jerusalem away from the Jews.” He said he had been in touch with Netanyahu who promised him that Jerusalem as Israel's capital was “non-negotiable.”

    The plain implication of this is that Robertson envisions Bibi as an agent of Christianity who, by holding fast to Jerusalem, will hasten Armageddon, the conversion of the Jews and the coming of the Christian messiah! I don't know how the Likud leader feels about this but for my part, rather than encouraging Armageddon later,I'll settle for Moshiach Now!

  • Obama's Israel peace plan?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Feb 9, 2009

    Do we now have the detailed outline of President Obama's plan for an Israel-Arab peace? Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, Obama's foreign policy and security advisor in the run up the election and regarded as eminence gris of American geo-strategic thinkers, spoke in November at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, in London. What he said then was strictly off the record. But now Chatham House itself has put on the record an edited version of his November address on “Foreign policy challenges for Obama.” The Israel-Palestinian peace process, he says, must be given priority. Since the parties to the conflict can never themselves reach a solution, they will need America, with the help of Europe, to spell out the fundamental requirements of “a genuine peace of reconciliation.”

    In the edited version of the Brzezinski speech published by Chatham House in its journal International Affairs, these are: a demilitarised Palestinian state, perhaps with a Nato presence on its soil to enhance Israel's sense of security; a territorial settlement based on the 1967 lines with “equitable exchanges” allowing Israel to incorporate the more heavily inhabited settlements on the fringes of those lines; acceptance by both parties of the fact that Palestinian refugees cannot return to what is now Israel but should be provided with compensation and assistance to settle, preferably, in the independent Palestinian state; and the “genuine sharing of Jerusalem as the capital of two states, with some kind of joint arrangement for the old city and a Palestinian flag over the golden dome.”

    Light blue touch-paper and retire....

  • Maybe I missed it

    Geoffrey Paul
    Feb 6, 2009

    Proud front page claim of the New York Times since 1897 is that it gives its readers “All the News That's Fit to Print.” In recent years, its critics have amended that to proclaim “All the News that Fits We Print.” Many British media outlets might be said to have further adapted this slogan to boast: “All the News that Fits Our Opinions We Print.” You'll remember that UNRWA school in Gaza the Israelis were said to have deliberately shelled causing upwards of 40 deaths? The one that Al Jazeera and its copycat newspapers suggested should be the subject of a war crimes inquiry? The fact is that no shells landed either inside the school or its yard. There were casualties in the street outside, not in the school. This has now been admitted to a Canadian newspaper by the senior UN official who, with a studied lack of clarity at the time, encouraged reports suggesting the school had been targeted. Have you read a correction and/or apology about it? Will you tell me where?

    And where in the last week have you read that Egypt's President Mubarak blamed Hamas for causing the bloodshed in Gaza by miscalculating how the Israelis might react to their provocations.? He accused Hamas of following an Iranian agenda in the area. That's not all Hamas has been doing. According to a detailed report from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (yes, there is one, brave folks that they are), Hamas has taken advantage of the Gaza conflict to brutally bump off or hideously to maim their political (mainly Fatah) rivals inside Gaza. There is a detailed, grisly report from the Centre at I may have missed any reference to it in the British newspapers or on TV. In which case, my apologies. I certainly missed any reference to the activities of two young Israeli women who launched an appeal for relief supplies to assist the women and children of Gaza. They were overwhelmed with offers from all over Israel, have already sent many truckloads into the refugee camps and have been offered storage facilities for their continuing collections by a Negev kibbutz which has itself been the target of rockets from Gaza.

    This is in no way my personal effort to whitewash some of Israel's more extreme actions inside Gaza. It is, though, my puny attempt to try and do what newspaper editors once thought a prime purpose of their endeavour: to keep the record straight.

  • 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.