The Diary

Why Lipman abandoned ship

By Simon Round, September 9, 2009

The Daily Telegraph’s Mandrake column suggests that Maureen Lipman pulled out of a cruise organised by The Oldie magazine because she could not stomach the thought of spending time with Richard Ingrams — a vociferous critic of Israel.

Completely wrong, Lipman tells us. “I’m not going on the cruise because I have to work and also because I was not happy with the way they advertised it as ‘cruise with Maureen Lipman’.

“I regularly tell him [Ingrams] what I think of him but it would not have stopped me going on the cruise.

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Warning blast

By Simon Round, September 3, 2009

Rabbis in Israel are warning shofar blowers to avoid cheap imports from Morocco and China.

The Tel Aviv Religious Council’s Ritual Object department has called on the general public not to use shofars made in these two countries.

Moroccan shofars, which have been increasingly seen in the past year, tend to be glued with polyester, making them unsuitable. And as for the Chinese ones, they are even worse — some are said to be smeared with pig fat.

Looks like Israelis will need to swap them for kosher shofars if they are not to hit the wrong note over Rosh Hashanah.

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Baby, what an invention

By Simon Round, September 3, 2009

If you are the kind of person who absent mindedly leaves your small child in the car at the end of a journey, Israeli scientists have an invention for you.

Idan Nahami and Moshe Attias developed a system which delivers a warning to take the child out of the car. More to the point, the system will also tell you if you have left a carton of milk on the back seat.

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Three pints and a falafel

By Simon Round, September 3, 2009

Britain, it seems, is becoming more Israeli — in one important respect at least.

According to a new survey, falafel is fast becoming the post-pub fast-food of choice.

Manchester’s famous curry mile is fast becoming falafel central, says Professor David McEvoy, who has been tracking the city’s immigrant population for 20 years.

Middle Eastern restaurants are fast taking over from Indian eateries — up 13 per cent in the past seven years. And the common denominator among them is falafel.

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Pantomime dame?

By Simon Round, August 27, 2009

You have seen the newspaper reports and read the book — now you can hear the play.

Shirleymandering, commissioned for Radio 4, will tell the story of Dame Shirley Porter who as leader of Westminster Council, was involved in the “council homes for votes” scandal.

According to Andrew Hosken, who wrote the book on which the play is based, the part of Porter is about to be cast with Imelda Staunton tipped to get the starring role.

Surely, there will ultimately be a musical based on the affair. Someone call Maureen Lipman.

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Jews save on Ramadam

By Simon Round, August 27, 2009

During the month of Ramadan, the Israeli branch of the Orange mobile network has been advertising 2,000 free minutes during the hours of darkness to the “Arab sector”. Customers merely need to text the word “Ramadan” to Orange.

However, since the offer was publicised, on an Orthodox blogsite, Jewish customers have been flocking to claim free Ramadan minutes.

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Israelis miss out on M&S

By Simon Round, August 27, 2009

Thanks to its home delivery service, Marks & Spencer clothes, home products and beauty products are now available all over the world — well, almost all over the world.

While customers in Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh and Cambodia can have M&S products of their choice posted to them, the citizens of one particular country are not so lucky.

Yes, you guessed it, it’s Israel.

It’s not like Marks & Spencer do not deliver to the Middle East — they do send goods to Lebanon and Syria. So why not Israel?

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Tal’s dark secret

By Simon Round, August 20, 2009

Manchester City defender Tal Ben Haim received a £175 fine this week... because the tinted windows on his BMW were too dark. He was also in trouble for not having a valid driving licence.

The Israel captain landed on the wrong side of the law when he was pulled over in Northumberland in May while he was on loan with Sunderland.

Chair of the bench, Keith McIntosh, said, perhaps with a touch of irony, of the millionaire footballer: “We can only assume that because he hasn’t submitted an income form that he earns £350 a week.” Sounds like a fair assumption.

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Swine flu mezuzah alert

By Simon Round, August 20, 2009

As fears over swine flu continue to rise in Israel, there have been a couple of unusual suggestions as to how to defeat the outbreak.

Top paediatrician Dr Ilan Youngster has warned that there could be a risk of infection from kissing a mezuzah. He recommended that people stop kissing them.

Former Sephardi chief rabbi Shlomo Amar commented that while he was not thrilled by the suggestion, those who wanted to follow the recommendation could put their hand near the mezuzah and kiss it.

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108 reasons for dieting

By Simon Round, August 20, 2009

Israel’s oldest man, Yakov Slavin, died this week at the age of 108. His son, Professor Shimon Slavin, put his father’s longevity down to that he “ate very little and never went to restaurants”.

Since his 100th birthday, Slavin has been invited to a president’s event for centenarians but he never attended, saying: “I have nothing to do with those old folks.”

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