The Diary

The Urban spaceman

By Simon Rocker, October 15, 2009

Media pundits believe that Sir Jeremy Isaacs’s old seat at Channel Four could be filled by UKTV boss David Abraham.

But never mind the programmes, what would he do with the station’s Horseferry Road headquarters should he become chief exec? While at St Luke’s, the ad agency he co-founded, he was once asked about his offices by a potential client. “We don’t have offices,” was his reply, “we have space.”

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Eastenders’ taste of Israel

By Simon Rocker, October 8, 2009

The boycott campaign has not reached Albert Square, I am happy to say. In Monday’s episode of EastEnders, character Sam Mitchell could be seen – at least by Hebrew-reading viewers – helping herself to a glass of Israeli orange juice.

(The BBC refused us use of a picture but you can catch it on iPlayer).

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Kindly adjust your wigs

By Simon Rocker, October 8, 2009

London QC Dinah Rose entered the annals last Thursday as the first barrister in England to be televised in action in court. A snatch of her address at the first sitting of the new Supreme Court, which happened to be about the costs of the JFS admissions row, was broadcast by Sky News.

In summer she successfully put the case against JFS at the Court of Appeal, but now Lord Pannick will hope to reverse his defeat there when the Supreme Court hears JFS’s appeal in two weeks. The hearing could be screened — a must for our legal friends, if not exactly Rumpole of the Bailey.

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The Labour loyalist

By Simon Rocker, October 1, 2009

Labour may have lost the Sun but at least it has kept the support of David Abrahams,

The businessman whose donations to it sparked, in 2007, an ultimately fruitless police inquiry.

In Brighton for the Labour conference, a beaming Abrahams felt “back among friends”. So will he dip into his pockets for the election? “The donations issue is history,” he said with a knowing smile before melting into the Labour Friends of Israel throng.

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A rabbi who sees blue

By Simon Rocker, October 1, 2009

Rabbi Alan Plancey, emeritus rabbi of Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue, will be swapping the pulpit for the soapbox when he contests a Hertfordshire Council seat for the Conservatives in a by-election this month.

The ebullient Scot’s political inclinations caused a rumpus some years ago when, as a sitting minister, he signed the nomination papers of his local Tory parliamentary candidate, one Cecil, later Lord, Parkinson.

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The ungrateful diplomat

By Simon Rocker, October 1, 2009

As commented on elsewhere on this page, Foreign Office diplomat Rowan Laxton was convicted last week after an anti-Israel outburst while watching TV reports of Gaza during a work-out at the London Business School gym. But who had funded the facilities he was enjoying?

As revealed by this plaque, it was Idan Ofer, London Business School fellow and chairman of Israel’s largest holding company, Israel Corp.

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The Vatican and the Lobby

By Simon Rocker, October 1, 2009

One man Pope Benedict will be keen to avoid on his UK visit next year is Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, whose views embarrassed the Vatican earlier this year.

Booted out of Argentina, the errant priest returned to Britain in February, under orders to recant. When I asked about him at the London branch of SSPX, the maverick sect to which he belongs, a secretary did not know of his whereabouts.

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Israel ban offside?

By Simon Rocker, September 24, 2009

Could the TUC have retreated from a boycott of Israel because of its impact on European football?

The Professional Footballers Association is part of the TUC and I’m told that according to bar-room chatter at last week’s congress, the PFA might have had to ask players to pull out of fixtures involving Israeli clubs had a stronger boycott motion become policy. Mind you, Israeli teams in Euro competitions might have welcomed weakened opposition.

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Last orders, please

By Simon Rocker, September 24, 2009

The United Synagogue is considering something to warm weather-beaten mourners — a coffee machine at Bushey cemetery. The Federation has already installed one at Rainham, but why doesn’the US go one better and put in a bar?

Last year a German rabbi allowed a man to be buried with a bottle of his favourite vodka. If the departed can take a tipple into the next world, why shouldn’t the living enjoy a l’chaim in theirs?

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Scientists' rising hopes

By Simon Rocker, September 24, 2009

New York’s Yeshiva University is usually celebrated for its rabbinic scholarship.

So you wouldn’t normally associate the Orthodox-run institution with virility aids for the erectilely challenged.

But scientists at Yeshiva’s Albert Einstein School of Medicine are working on a cream that will help raise the lowly — as the Psalmist might have said — which has been described as a rub-on alternative to Viagra.

It is currently being tried out on rats and should be ready for human guinea-pigs in a few years.

Let’s hope they don’t test in on the rabbinical students.

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