Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Gerald Kaufman - spokesman for UK Jews

    Jessica Elgot
    Jul 20, 2011

    As if the Jewish community didn't have enough self-appointed representatives, Sir Gerald Kaufman has also decided to act as spokesman of the community.

    He demanded William Hague condemn Israel's new anti-boycott legislation at oral questions for the Foreign Office yesterday, asking the Foreign Secretary to “join the very many Jewish supporters of Israel in Britain, the United States and Israel itself in expressing utter disgust at the legislation”.

    It's a confusing statement. Does Sir Gerald count himself as a Jewish supporter of Israel? The same Sir Gerald who said Israel was worse than Iran because "at least it kept its theocracy within its own borders." The same who was caught by a microphone saying "here come the Jews again" when Louise Ellman spoke in the House of Commons?

  • A helpful Yiddish guide to phonehacking

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 20, 2011

    For all that Jews are supposed to control the media, the News International / hacking / News of the World / Brooks / Murdoch scandal has so far played out without much of a kosher angle. But never fear, it can still be interpreted with one. Over to Matthew Norman at the Indy:

    "Andy Hayman is a schtick fleisch mit oigen (imbecile; literally, a lump of meat with eyes), James Murdoch a nebbish (sad loser), his father a schvuntz (there you must rely on innate feel for onomatopoeia), and Ms Brooks a rosher (dead naughty)."

    Do you agree? Candidates for the shmucks and schmerils of the scandal so far in the comments below.

  • Notes on a (boycott) scandal

    Orlando Radice
    Jul 15, 2011

    There is a sad footnote to Israel’s passing of the much-derided ‘Boycott Bill’.
    The fact that Benjamin Netanyahu did not turn up to vote reveals the degree to which he is unwilling or unable to upset his coalition partners.
    Bibi is now trying to fight off a second bill whose democratic credentials are at best questionable – the proposal for a committee to be established to investigate human rights organisations – presumably thinking that the first concession should have been enough to secure his power base in the Knesset.
    Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is vowing “revenge” over this rebuttal, and Bibi’s tactics are looking more and more like fruitless appeasement.
    Talking of fruitlessness, anyone for peace talks?

  • The Next Chief

    Simon Rocker
    Jul 15, 2011

    A typically forthright contribution to the debate about the next Chief Rabbi from Rabbi Jeremy Rosen on his blog, who writes: "Not one Chief Rabbi since Hertz has stood up to the Beth Din. No new one will be any more likely to than his predecessors. The hounds of the religious right are already baying. At the moment the only voices standing for open, honest, intellectual Judaism are in 'academia'."

  • British Jews and Israel

    Marcus Dysch
    Jul 14, 2011

    Earlier this week I attended three events, on consecutive evenings, which revealed much about British Jews and their relationships with Israel.

    One discussed the rising boycott and delegitimisation campaign, another looked at support for Israel from the left, and the third was something altogether different, and, thankfully, more positive.

    On Sunday I watched my JC colleague Jonathan Freedland bravely attempt to argue the case against cultural boycotts despite overpowering anti-Israel fervour which at times bordered on outright antisemitism.

  • The mystery of Nick Robinson’s glasses

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 13, 2011

    At the Holocaust Education Trust's Student Ambassadors event last night (more on that in this week's paper), the BBC's Nick Robinson cleared up one of the biggest political mysteries of the week.

    No, not phonehacking. I'm referring, of course, to what happened to his signature spectacles.

    He revealed to the crowd that he had not, in fact, chosen a new pair. "I'm not that bold," he said. "It was simply that I smashed them and I couldn't find my spare pair at home."

  • It's good to talk (if you're a Jewish MP)

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jul 12, 2011

    They say Jews like to talk, and it seems Jewish politicians are no exception.

    Parliamentary monitor They Work For You have compiled a list of the most chatty MPs in the class of 2010.

    On the Conservative side of the bench, Robert Halfon is the overwhelming winner of the "most likely to talk in a debate award". He's spoken in a whopping 160 debates since he entered parliament for Harlow – 26 more times than the next talkative Tory.

  • The US presidential election

    Simon Rocker
    Jul 6, 2011

    All too often elections to Anglo-Jewish organisations are a formality, with one group of leaders slipping unopposed into the seats vacated by their predecessors.

    So it’s worth applauding the fact that there will be a contest to lead the community’s largest organisation, the United Synagogue, for its next triennial.

    The post is particularly significant this time because the victor will have a big hand in recruiting the next Chief Rabbi – and the Chief Rabbi, for all the changes that have taken place in British Jewry over the last quarter of century, still remains its most influential office.

  • Reporting Raed Salah

    Marcus Dysch
    Jun 30, 2011

    I had intended to blog about some of the bizarre coverage yesterday of the Raed Salah case.

    Guardian reports of his detention and the events surrounding the Home Secretary’s decision to deny him entry to Britain (Border Agency officials shamefully, and perhaps terrifyingly, failed to act on Theresa May’s orders) were quite shocking.

    For Conal Urquhart to cover Salah’s situation without even briefly mentioning the allegations of antisemitism the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel faces – the accusation of “virulent antisemitism” (made in Parliament by MP Mike Freer) apparently being a key reason for the Home Secretary’s banning order decision – almost beggars belief. But then it is the Guardian…

  • Haneen Zoabi's black and white argument

    Jennifer Lipman
    Jun 30, 2011

    Haneen Zoabi, the Israeli Arab MK, writes a vitriolic piece for Comment is Free on the deportation of banned Israeli Raed Salah. I won't go into the details – you can peruse the contents as you wish – but there was one point that particularly jarred.

    She says: "There is no other meaning to a "Jewish state" except the recognition of the legitimacy of granting privileges to Jews in Israel at the expense of Palestinian citizens, annulling the legitimacy of our struggle for real democracy."

    So, question from the class. If there is "no other meaning" to a Jewish state than the denial of privileges to its non-Jewish citizens, what exactly would a Palestinian state amount to?