Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Mazel Tov: Royal succession change at last

    Jennifer Lipman
    Oct 28, 2011

    It looks as though, finally, the UK's archaic laws on royal succession are to be scrapped. The 16 Commonwealth heads have agreed to change the law so that male and female heirs to the throne are treated equally.

    David Cameron says he will put it to parliament at the next session, when, one hopes, even the crustiest and most conservative members will accept it.

    The constitutional reform would also remove the ban on the spouse of a Catholic from taking the throne (a ban that was only in place for Catholics). Under the current system, had Kate Middleton been Catholic, Prince William would effectively have had to forfeit his right to the throne in order to marry her.

  • PSC forced to cancel trade union conference

    Marcus Dysch
    Oct 28, 2011

    The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has been forced to cancel a conference with trade unionists which was due to take place tomorrow.

    The event was expected to promote boycott methods and encourage local groups to support BDS measures against Israel. Speakers were to include RMT general secretary Bob Crow.

    In a statement, the PSC said the event would be rescheduled for next year and said the move was being made to avoid disrupting preparations for the day of strike action which unions are planning for November 30.

  • Hearts, minds and Gilad

    Orlando Radice
    Oct 19, 2011

    Once you have got over the surreality of it all, one’s first thought on the release of Gilad Shalit might be: so if Israel and the Palestinians can knit a deal like this together – which took years of proposals, planning and attempts at indirect talks – why can’t they get down to the bigger business of peace talks?

    It is a valid question. However, the answer lies in exactly the same place that the question emerges from: the very reason Israel can countenance exchanging over 1,000 hardened murderers for a single soldier and engage in talks with one of its deadliest enemies is that Israelis’ hearts are welded together more powerfully and defensively than any other national community. The life of Gilad was the life of every youngster who heads into the army. He was indeed the child of the nation.

    Now, this is not normal collective thinking. But Israel is not normal. For 63 years it has been worrying over its very existence. Wars and intifadas produced the Shalit deal as much as they wiped out the trust that would underpin a peace settlement.

  • Thoughts on Gilad Shalit's release

    Jennifer Lipman
    Oct 18, 2011

    When Gilad Shalit was captured, most of us didn't have Facebook. There was no Twitter, no iPhone and certainly no iPad.

    Barack Obama was still a relatively unknown freshman senator from Illinois and Tony Blair was running this country. The economy hadn't collapsed just yet, Osama bin Laden was nowhere to be found. Newspaper websites were free to browse. The West Wing was still on air in Britain.

    While Gilad was in captivity - with almost no word from Hamas about his welfare - his peers were moving on with their lives. They were finishing their army service, going off to see the world. They were starting their studies, falling in love, perhaps even having children.

  • Gilad Shalit

    Jenni Frazer
    Oct 12, 2011

    Within hours of the news breaking that a deal has been done to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, the debate about whether it is proper to exchange hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for the sake of one Israeli soldier has re-erupted.

    Israel has always held to the tenet that it will do anything and pay a very high price for its citizens, something it has demonstrated over and over again. Those who have suffered at the hands of terrorists are, understandably, unhappy about the swap: a former rabbi in the IDF has warned today that those who are being released will slide back into their old haunts and habits immediately, the better to wreak further havoc on Israel.

    I was very struck by the comment on one website in which someone wrote that he did not know how the Shalit family would live with themselves when the next inevitable act of terrorism was committed by someone who had been released so that their son could be free. But who can judge the Shalit family in that way? Who can imagine the pain and suffering undergone by the family in the last five years? And who among us can comprehend the lonely, frightening situation of Gilad himself, never knowing if the next knock on the door was someone coming to kill him?

  • The Honey Trap

    Simon Rocker
    Oct 3, 2011

    I have a seasonal confession to make: I don’t like honey.

    From early years, I have avoided spreading it on my challah or dipping my apple in it.

    As a child, I used to sprinkle sugar on them instead.