Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Engaging with Israel

    Simon Rocker
    May 11, 2011

    Sunday’s “We Believe in Israel” conference has been billed as the largest advocacy of its kind in this country. But if you go to the conference home page, you’ll notice that the word “advocacy” does not appear.

    Advocacy has political overtones. The buzzword instead is “engagement”, which signals an attempt to appeal to a broader constituency, including in particular the so-called “huggers and wrestlers” - those who identify with Israel but may be critical of some of its policies.

    One of the tracks on Sunday is being run by Makom, a Jewish Agency-backed organisation which specialises in education about engagement. It is headed by Jonathan Ariel, former UJIA director of Jewish renewal, who is coming to the conference along with another expat, Robbie Gringras, founder of the Besht Tellers drama group.For Makom's programme at the conference, see Robbie's Makom blog.

  • Cheryl Cole's Jewish hair

    Jennifer Lipman
    May 10, 2011

    Of all the showbiz stars about, Cheryl Cole isn't usually one mistaken for being Jewish.

    But according to OK magazine, the X Factor presenter has got one kosher credential.

    Discussing her styling in a new advert for L'Oreal and her look at the US X Factor auditions, the fashion pundits write: "Chezza has hit Hollywood with hair the size of a Jewish grandma."

  • Only in America?

    Jenni Frazer
    May 8, 2011

    A newspaper based in Brooklyn, Di Tzeitung, has done the most extraordinary thing. It has taken the by now iconic photo of the White House situation room in which President Obama and members of his administration watch the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden - and Photoshopped Hillary Clinton out of the picture. Yes, where Hillary was sitting, hand over her mouth as she watched the Navy Seal operation, there is now a large white space.
    It's not just Hillary who has been obliterated from history, either. A woman standing at the back of the room, Andrea Thomason of the department of counter terrorism, has similarly disappeared.
    What can one make of this extraordinary behaviour? I realise, of course, that the paper is a religious one and has religious sensibilities, but pretending that the US Secretary of State does not exist cannot surely fall into that category. Mrs Clinton was perfectly modestly dressed; certainly her hair was uncovered, but then she is not Jewish, so presumably the obligation does not apply. Does anyone have a serious explanation for this action?

  • How to solve a problem like al Qaida

    Orlando Radice
    May 6, 2011

    Aditya Chakrabortty writes in the Guardian this week that Islamic terrorism is “soluble” in the healing waters of economic development. By providing sewage and schools, he suggests – citing a study by US academic Eli Berman – Western powers can neutralize terrorist groups, such as Hamas, Hizbollah and al Qaida, whose footsoldiers are motivated by altruism rather than ideology. No doubt economic progress would help, but in what ethical system is blowing other people up a form of altruism? Is that a place in which rape is a birthday present? A self-imposed reductio ad absurdum if there ever was one.

  • Bin Laden's death shouldn't be a kodak moment

    Jennifer Lipman
    May 6, 2011

    A couple of months ago I opened an email that I later wished I hadn't. It contained photographs, grisly, explicit photographs of the victims of the Itamar massacre.

    Yuli Edelstein, Israel's Minister of Information explained the decision thus: "our goal in sending out the photos was clear: to show that this attack crossed all lines."

    A fair point, surely. Israelis – sadly – are perhaps more desensitized than others around the world to scenes of horror and devastation, yet what happened to the Fogels was incomprehensible.

  • Peter Moss: add your tribute

    Danny Caro
    May 4, 2011

    Peter Moss, JC writer and coach of MSFL's FC Team, was killed in a bomb attack in Marrakesh on April 28.

    The father-of-two, 59, was one of 15 people killed in the blast in a cafe at Djemma el-Fna square in the city’s old quarter.

    The JC’s deepest sympathies go to his family and friends. To mark his impressive career, we have compiled a selection of his writing, which you can read here.

  • Julian Assange finds another Jewish conspiracy

    Jennifer Lipman
    May 3, 2011

    Never knowingly under-paranoid, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has found a new Jewish bogeyman.

    Following on from his "Jewish conspiracy at the Guardian out to get me" meltdown, I give you Assange v Zuckerberg.

    As told to Russia Today, Assange thinks Facebook is "the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented".

  • Help the JC mark Israel's 63rd birthday

    Jennifer Lipman
    Apr 18, 2011

    What's your favourite thing about Israel?

    To mark Israel's 63rd birthday, we want you to send in video clips and photos telling us what it is about Israel that you love.

    Whether it's the diverse geography, the view of the Kotel in Jerusalem, the Israeli drivers or the taste of an Iced Aroma, let us know and we'll put them together into a video for the world to see.

  • Bieber, Bibi, Barack and Bill

    Jennifer Lipman
    Apr 15, 2011

    Remember when Bill Clinton hosted Charlotte Church at the White House? Did you know Mariah Carey recently entertained the Obamas for Christmas? Or that before he became Prime Minister David Cameron dined with Simon Cowell?

    What about the Alternative Vote campaign (both yes and no) at the moment – both sides of which are a veritable who's who of showbiz supporters?

    What have they got to do with a teenage pop star from Canada with floppy hair?