Your blogs

  • Revolution by Twitter

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 26, 2011

    Have we entered a new era of revolution by tweet? Until the Egyptian cut them off yesterday, it was possible to follow the unfolding of events in Cairo by logging into one or the other of the social networks being used to spread the word of demonstrations against the regime. This is so much more authentic in conveying the flavour of events in Cairo than the digested and sometimes overly-cautious interpretations offered by media experts. Some of the best stuff on developments in the Arab world comes from savvy bloggers. One who seems to know his olives from his dates pointed out that the al-Jazeera/Gurdian leaks of Palestinian papers came from within the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit (NSU).  The NSU is funded by DFID, the UK Department for International Development, and exists to provide parity in the negotiations by giving the Palestinians a professionally-staffed reach-back capability for negotiation details. My blogger observes: “ I'm not casting aspersions here - the NSU hires a lot of young international idealists, and local skeptics, any of whom might have been to blame for the leak.  But that detail, combined with the recent admission by a British general that his support to the Palestinian security forces has not made any impact on the use of torture by those forces, reinforces the perils of giving any backing to a regime that doesn't have the support of its own people.” There’s a thought. And another one: how does supporting the Palestinian negotiating team fit in with DfID's apolitical remit of poverty reduction?

  • Mitigating shame

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 20, 2011

    Daniel Liebeskind has designed one of his most poignant memorials, a miniature in scale when compared with his Berlin Jewish Museum or his plans for the rehabilitation of the site of the World Trade Centre in New York. The “Wheel of `Conscience” as he calls it is reminiscent of a ship’s steering wheel. At its centre is a mesh of revolving gears as would be found in an engine room, individually bearing the words hatred, xenophobia, racism and antisemitism. On the reverse are the names of more than 900 German Jews who sought refuge from the Nazis in 1939 aboard the liner St Louis. Men, women and children, they were waved away from ports in Cuba, the United States and Canada. The US had a patrol boat make sure none tried to swim ashore. Over 250 perished in the Holocaust, after their return to Europe.

  • A questionable cartoon from the Daily Mail

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jan 19, 2011

    The Mail has a story today about the gay couple, Steven Preddy and Martin Hall, who were awarded £1,800 after winning their case against the hotel owners who refused to let them share a room.

    Peter and Hazelmary Bull, a Christian couple, turned the civil partners away after they realised that the booking was not for a husband and wife.

    In my view, this is a victory against discrimination. But the Mail has focused on the story in a slightly different way, headlining it: "'Now some people are more equal than others': Despair of Christian hotel owners penalised for turning away gays".

  • What do Jews and Chinese people have in common?

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jan 17, 2011

    Well, Jewish fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg thinks she knows.

    She told an interviewer at a Bloomberg panel event: "The Chinese people are very individual.

    "I mean, they are not like the Japanese that are obedient. They're very — they're like Jews, really, except that there is a lot more of them.

  • Tunisian dominoes

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 16, 2011

    I have no doubt that Israeli military and political think tanks are hard at work trying to assess the outcome of events in Tunisia on such vulnerable neighbours as Jordan and Egypt and, within the same zone of influence, Libya and Algeria. There is no question at all that changes of regime in either Jordan or Egypt - unlikely immediately given the strength of their internal security forces - would have a major impact on Israel (and no less the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza). There are some fanciful soothsayers in Israel who see the monarchy in Jordan being overthrown by the country’s Palestinian majority who will then create their Palestinian state which will absorb their brothers and sisters in the West Bank and Gaza and leave Israel within its present borders. That is to presume the Jordanian Palestinians are more sympathetic to Fatah than Hamas. There is absolutely no justification for this. None at all. And, in Egypt, if the Mubarak dynasty is to be brought to an end, by whatever means, it is likely to be followed by - if not a regime dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood - a strongly Islamist coalition. The two signed peace agreements Israel has - with Jordan and with Egypt - will be worthless given the overthrow of the existing regimes and a whole new ballgame will be signalled in the Middle East. Tunisia was the first domino. Who will predict the last?

  • Gun control and tragedy in Arizona

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jan 10, 2011

    Michael Bloomberg said it best, although he’s not the only one to have made this point.

    The mayor of New York told a crowd in the wake of the Arizona shooting spree: “We don’t know all the facts in this case yet, but we do know that every single day, 34 Americans are murdered.

    “Every single day. Yesterday it was Judge John Roll and five other Americans and many more across the 50 states. Tomorrow, there will be another 34.”

  • Who else has had access to this bagel?

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jan 10, 2011

    A cream-cheese bagel has become the latest item to cause havoc at airport security.

    Florida professor Ognjen Milatovic was rushed off a plane from Boston to Washington and arrested for disorderly conduct and interfering with the operation of an aircraft after fellow passengers alerted staff to the suspect bagel.

    No news yet whether he was able to take his lunch with him.

  • Hugo Chavez and Oliver 'diplomat' Stone

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jan 5, 2011

    If you were a rabble-rousing left-winger, who would you want serving as an ambassador in your country? Why, someone exactly like you, of course.

    Hugo Chavez seems to take that view, anyway. He’s none too happy with President Obama’s choice of US ambassador to Venezuela, and has come up with a few suggestions of his own.

    Speaking on TV yesterday, Chavez said: "I hope they name Oliver Stone.”

  • No more than a nod

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jan 5, 2011

    It’s a fair guess that not too many readers of the JC are habitual readers of the New Statesman or its bloggers. There has long been a sense that you’ll find neither open mindedness nor fair dealing when it comes to matters Israeli or, even less so, Zionist. Memories are still fresh of the 2002 cover displaying a golden Star of David stabbing a Union flag with the splash headline “A Kosher Conspiracy?" With its startling overtones of European antisemitic iconography, the cover introduced a feature on the so-called Zionist lobby. Eventually the journal ran a qualified apology from the editor, Peter Wilby. So it came as a bit of a surprise when one of the New Statesman’s contributing editors ran a piece this week in praise of Israeli justice (the guilty finding against President Katsav). More than that, Sholto Byrne indulged in some interesting if not totally convincing speculation about why Israel is held to to a different standard than others, concluding that when Israel meets and exceeds that standard, “we owe our applause” Of course, the piece is not free of the usual digs at Israel and there’s no reason to take satisfaction in a few crumbs of praise. But anything from the NS which does not depict Israel as a totally pariah state is worth a nod of recognition. You can read the whole blog at
    www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/01/israel-palestinian-stand...

  • Isn't it quiet!

    Geoffrey Paul
    Dec 29, 2010

    There are few phone calls that matter. Almost no Spam e-mails. If you doin’t look out of the window, it’s great. There’s even time to read the stuff you would not bother with, like dear Julie Burchill in Prospect magazine. Having told the JC she has given up her column and announced that shul no longer has any appeal for her, she tells this improving journal that her New Year resolution is “Reach a reading age of 12 in Hebrew - so far, it’s five.” Why bother? The real fun was in an e-mail from a cruising brother deep into the penguins, whales and icebergs of Antarctica. His cruise ship was joined by a Lubavitch couple along the way in south America who, apart from all the other necessary supplies, brought their electric cholent pot with them. But, alas, alack and gevalt, the chief steward ruled it too serious a fire hazard to allow them to keep it puttering away in their cabin over Friday night into shabbat lunch time. Imagine, cold cholent……in the Antarctic! Next week, all will be back to normal, sadly….