Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Don't look now...

    Geoffrey Paul
    Aug 4, 2009

    New neighbours are moving in. Their goods and chattels have arrived aboard a huge pantechnicon. It has travelled all the way from the Czech Republic. The name of the moving company, written in large letters, is GOLEM. The company can be reached at a website in the Czech Republic which begins “www.Golem...” Should we be worried?

  • Obama 'birthers'

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 4, 2009

    A new litmus test has emerged in the US, which helps weed out the nut-jobs with admirable clarity. It's the charge that President Obama was not, in fact, born in the US but in Kenya. (See this, this and, hilariously, this as examples.)

    The evidence for this claim is entirely non-existent. There's more evidence that little green men from another planet have visited us (I am being sarcastic, btw; I was taught a long time ago that sarcasm doesn't work in print).

    But despite the fact that the claim is away with the fairies, there are a number of supposedly serious Republicans who make it.

  • How clever?

    Geoffrey Paul
    Aug 3, 2009

    I have read and tried to work my way through the history and legal argument about the properties in East Jerusalem from which, this week, Arab families have been forcibly evicted and into which Jewish settlers have been allowed to move. I must confess that I still do not know who was right. What I do know is that, in terms of public relations, Israel has shot herself in the leg again by sending in the police to enforce its rights. How many points does it win her in the court of public opinion to be seen ousting people who - apparently, and I have no proof - have lived under the same roof for 50 years? What does it say about Israel's ability to live in peace not just with her neighbours but with her own Arab citizens? Sometimes, I must confess, I just shake my head in disbelief at the miscalculations of successive Israeli governments. Who was it ever said anything about “clever Jews”?

  • Still the Middle East's beacon of tolerance?

    Jessica Elgot
    Aug 3, 2009

    The attack on the gay youth advice centre in Tel Aviv was a tragic set back for the country which has set the standard for gay rights in the Middle East.

    But as blogger Chas Newky-Burden points out:
    "In many of the countries surrounding Israel, the government and police would not be condemning and hunting somone who murdered gay people - they would be committing the murders themselves as part of their barbaric legal systems."

    The worst thing that could happen as a result of these heartbreaking murders now is that Israel is categorised, along with its neighbours, as a hotbed for violence and intolerance against the gay community, when the country has in fact led a shining example.

  • The Barmitzvah That Never Was

    Simon Rocker
    Aug 3, 2009

    A rather sad tale of everyday intermarried life from this weekend’s Guardian.

    In a first-person piece, Annabel Wright, a self-confessed “non-practising Jew” married to a “lapsed Church of England” husband, recounts how her 12-year-son Marcus became interested in Judaism and wanted to have a barmitzvah.

    A friendly Progressive rabbi suggested that she and Marcus join classes at the synagogue but, alas, Annabel eventually found she couldn’t go along with the religious ride. “As time wore on, I realised that if Marcus was to follow the faith, I just couldn’t do it with him,” she said.

  • Press TV held in breach by OFCOM

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 3, 2009

    Press TV has just been held by OFCOM to be in breach of the required impartiality standard. The judgment is here:

    Under the Communications Act 2003, and therefore the Code, due impartiality must be preserved by broadcasters in all major matters of political or industrial policy. In dealing with these major matters broadcasters must include an appropriately wide range of significant views.

    ...The Israeli-Palestinian conflict understandably raises extremely strong views and emotions from all sides. It is right that broadcasters are able to reflect such opinions within its programmes. There must be a place for such programming which gives air to highly opinionated and vocal reaction on issues of such importance. However, in order to comply with the Code, broadcasters must ensure that, when discussing matters of major political or industrial controversy or a major matter relating to current public policy, a real range of significant views are included in a programme. Further, in such cases, when presenting any significant alternative view, it must be given due weight and consideration.

  • No more Curb?

    Stephen Pollard
    Aug 3, 2009

    I've been away for a few days, devoid of news, so I'm only now catching up with the key story, which we covered here.

    I don't know whether to be thrilled or in despair: thrilled that

    The cast of Seinfeld will finally be reunited after 11 years