A ponytailed Filipino man in jeans is swinging his narrow hips as he pushes an elderly, Orthodox rabbi in a wheelchair. They arrive at a synagogue and while the rabbi discusses the Talmud with similarly aged and bearded clerics, his Asian carer sits to one side, singing along to Abba’s The Winner Takes It All on his personal stereo.
As culture clashes go, it is a fairly strange one. But what makes it even stranger is that the Filipino, Chiqui Diokno, is a drag artist in his spare time.
Politicians who can’t be trusted, a worsening international reputation and no peace anywhere in sight, Israel seems troubled. What do ordinary citizens think? We asked four emigrants from the UK:
The modern Orthodox Jew
Forty-four-year-old Simon Monk and his wife Nicole moved from Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, to Netanya 14 years ago. Their first child, Gabriella, was a baby when they arrived. Nicole, a teacher, and Simon, a banker and a member of the Netanya City Council, now have four other children.
Eleven years ago, Linor Abargil was crowned Miss World. As the 18-year-old Israeli model smiled for the TV cameras and accepted the congratulations of her fellow contestants, no one would have suspected that the memory of a horrific ordeal was still fresh in her mind.
Seven weeks earlier, she had been raped at knifepoint.
That Sir Nicholas Winton (Nicky to friends and family) has reached the venerable age of 100 should come as no surprise. While others around him falter, his constitution is stubbornly robust, and no doubt his phlegmatic attitude to life also helps. You will never see him riled about anything. Which is not to say he does not get exasperated. So if you do not want to exasperate him, do not compare him to Oscar Schindler, and do not call him a hero.
From 8,000 feet, the houses of Gaza City seem peaceful, wreathed in low, wispy clouds, coming in from the sparkling blue Mediterranean. I bank right and begin spiralling downwards, aiming for the Hamas headquarters in the centre of town, where I will level out at 2,000 ft for my bombing run. Suddenly my vision is obstructed and the plane shakes and bucks. A pilot’s worst nightmare — bird strike! The single engine begins faltering. What do I do now? Carry on with the mission? Regain height? Bail out? How should I know, I am only a journalist.
Up in the clear, green spaces of the Galilee, it is easy to forget the stress and backbiting of urban Israeli life.
Rather, what matters in the remote north of the country is harmony, education and economics. Each is inextricably linked. Without education and a decent economy, the already small Jewish population of the region will decrease and decamp to the big cities. And the opportunities for a good education facilitate better relationships between Jewish and Arab citizens — and, ultimately, help to improve investment and thus the economy.
Thanks to two detectives from Strathclyde Police Force, Matilda ‘Tilly’ Gifford has become the most famous environmental campaigner in Britain.
The 24-year-old member of Plane Stupid, the direct action group that fights airport expansion, hit the headlines last weekend when she disclosed that the Scottish police had tried to recruit her as an informant, using a combination of intimidation and financial inducement.
Colin Jordan, who died this month aged 85, never escaped the margins of the British extreme right and never had more than a few hundred followers in any of the parties he led. Yet the tradition he represented remains an important influence on today’s British National Party.
Tel Aviv was founded on the second day of Passover, 1909. A crowd famously gathered on the dunes on April 11 and dreamed of the rise of an ir metropolinit — a modern Hebrew metropolis.
The new white city, inhabited by “the new Jew”, was established to be as far removed from the religiosity and squalor of Jerusalem as possible. It will therefore come as a surprise that one of its founders was Zerach Barnett, a strictly Orthodox Jew from London’s East End.
When Adam Ganz was a boy growing up in Oxford, all his friends would speak of what their dads had done in the war. It occurred to Ganz that he had no idea what his own father had done.
It was only many years later that he discovered his father, Peter, had been involved in a remarkable, top-secret operation in which hidden listening devices were used to eavesdrop on the conversations of the captured German generals housed in a mansion at Trent Park in Cockfosters, north London.