Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • The conflict ignored by all

    Jessica Elgot
    Dec 9, 2011

    Conservative MEP Sir Robert Atkins has apologised for a blog he wrote after a recent visit to Gaza.

    “Pressure must be exerted on Israel and her diaspora to realise that what they are doing in Palestine generally, and Gaza specifically, is not only illegal under international law but is also inhumane."

    Infuriating to be sure, but these days such language seems unsurprising. No-one, except the JC and some notable bloggers ever seems to call officials out on language like this any more.

  • After the "Jew goal", the "Jew punch"?

    Marcus Dysch
    Dec 1, 2011

    Remember the “Jew goal”? Well now it seems another sport may have adopted a similarly tasteless phrase.

    Welcome to the world of the “Jew punch”.

    Subscription boxing channel BoxNation this week apologised and launched an investigation after a retired boxer made a rather dubious remark on one of its shows.

  • Among the missing

    Jenni Frazer
    Dec 1, 2011

    I have rarely felt such a sense of disappointment in a Labour leader as I do today in Ed Miliband.
    Repeatedly asked to condemn what you might think would be a no-brainer, MP Paul Flynn's scurrilous remarks about the British ambassador to Israel and his alleged "dual loyalty", Mr Miliband took refuge in weak silence. It was left to his shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, to do the deed and castigate Mr Flynn's comments.
    In recent weeks Mr Miliband has let drop intriguing hints about releasing his inner Jew. He has had, we are told, deep conversations with himself about his Jewish identity following the birth of his second son. He has had long discussions with the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, and the new Israeli ambassador to Britain, Daniel Taub (who, by Paul Flynn's bizarre logic, should also be guilty of dual loyalties since he is British-born.)
    I can't imagine that such conversations, were they to take place this week, would be so comfortable for Mr Miliband.
    All he has to do - in fact all he had to do - was to state clearly and unequivocally that Paul Flynn's remarks are completely and utterly unacceptable, no ifs, buts, or maybes. No hedging, no fudging, no ringing round with putting in context.
    What Paul Flynn said was deeply offensive and completely bought in to every antisemitic trope and stereotype currently being peddled on what we have hitherto considered the lunatic fringe. But Flynn has now brought this attitude into respectable conversation. Mr Miliband needs to tread on this immediately; but I cannot understand why he hesitated. Unless, of course, he believes that his own background will lead to a loss of credibility, and he is allowing his Jewish identity to constrain him.
    For shame, Ed. I thought you were better than that.

  • Democracy in Israel - how worried should we be?

    Orlando Radice
    Nov 30, 2011

    What to make of the so-called ‘anti-democratic’ laws being batted around in the Knesset? Is this the beginning of end of Israeli democracy, as many on the left would have it? Not all bills are as ruinous to political pluralism as they have been made out.

    The ‘Grunis’ Bill, for example, which is designed to reduce the Supreme Court president’s minimum tenure and has been much derided for potentially allowing a right-leaning Judge, Justice Asher Dan Grunis, to preside over the court, will not change the identity of the entire court since even the president only has one vote and can be overruled, just like any other court member.

    Moreover, Bibi, caught between a sustained legislative campaign from the right of the Knesset and negative feedback from the media and opinion polls, is trying to steer a middle way, promising to “soften” the laws before the are presented for their final votes in the Knesset.

  • How not to talk about the Arab Spring

    Orlando Radice
    Nov 25, 2011

    Congratulations to Israeli news website Ynet for posting a shining example of the kind of bigoted thinking that keeps the Middle East in perpetual conflict.

    In a series of dangerous conflations and groundless generalisations, the op-ed claims that ‘Arabs are in love with anarchy’ and ‘Egyptians failed to understand that Tahrir Square protests are not real democracy’. It goes on to blur the activities of suicide bombers, the Egyptian military and pro-democracy protesters, claiming that the rallies in Tahrir Square are 'sanctifying violence'.

    What nonsense - and hypocrisy. What chance do Egyptian people have of ever winning some degree of freedom other than through aggressive demonstration against their long-time oppressors? When Israel fights to defend its existence, freedoms and democracy is it then 'sanctifying violence'? Are price-tagging settlers therefore the same as an IDF pilot taking out a Hizbollah missile silo?

  • Picking the Chief

    Simon Rocker
    Nov 17, 2011

    The United Synagogue has, predictably, decided not to take the radical step of holding a ballot to elect its next Chief Rabbi after Lord Sacks retires in September 2013.

    But it has set up an tripartite structure to make the selection process more representative of the Chief Rabbinate’s constituents and, notably, women will play a greater role than they did in previous years.

    But there are two comments made by US president Stephen Pack, who also chairs the Chief Rabbinate Trust, when he announced how the Chief would be chosen this week which are worth noting.