The Diary

Shmaltzy air force

By Simon Round, August 6, 2009

The US Air force has plans to save the planet by converting all of its planes to run on a 50/50 mix of conventional and bio-fuel by 2010.

Among the bio-fuel possibilities being discussed is shmaltz. Chicken fat can, it seems, be converted into jet fuel. It can only be a matter of time before we see the first chicken soup powered helicopter.

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Antisemitic story time

By Simon Round, August 6, 2009

Over here we have CBeebies and in Egypt they have Al-Rahm, which screens children’s programmes too — the only difference between the two networks being the virulently antisemitic content of the latter.

On a recent Islamic children’s show, a child was quoted as saying “Oh Allah, completely destroy and shatter the Jews.

“Oh Allah, torment them with a disease which has no cure or remedy. Send a thunderbolt down upon them from heaven.

“Oh Allah, torment them with every kind of torment.”

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Be more Jewish, Jon

By Simon Round, July 30, 2009

Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, is one of the US’s most visible Jews, but his name is more Caledonian than Yiddishe — Stewart changed it from Leibowitz.

This fact has not gone unnoticed. Ron Rosenbaum has issued an open letter in the online magazine, Slate, imploring Stewart to become Leibowitz once again.

Writes Rosenbaum: “I want you to change your name back to Leibowitz. Stewart is just so 20th century, a relic of that dark age when Jews in showbiz changed their names because they feared real Americans wouldn’t accept the original.”

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Cameron goes to shul

By Simon Round, July 30, 2009

We were intrigued to receive an email from Frances Cohen of Palmers Green Synagogue informing us that David Cameron would be attending the shul on Shabbat and furthermore would be reciting Ani Zemirit.

Turns out that it is not the Conservative Party leader doing outr-reach work but rather a six-year-old pupil of Wolfson Hillel, who goes by the same name.

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Breaking News: Iraq is Egypt

By Simon Round, July 30, 2009

There HAS always been a theory that the average American is unable to locate any countries on a map with the exception of their own, perhaps Canada and, at a pinch, Mexico.

However, it was always assumed that the American news professionals knew what was where around the world.
Apparently not. On Monday, the US Fox News network displayed a map of the Middle East in which Egypt had crossed the Red Sea and occupied the entirety of Iraq. The map did not show whether Iraq had reciprocally moved to Egypt and what this meant for Israel.

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Barbara’s Boring

By Simon Round, July 23, 2009

The tabloids have been jumping over themselves to report the fact that Amy Winehouse has got divorced from husband Blake Fielder-Civil.

Not everyone is interested though — Barbara Ellen in the Observer for one. She wrote in her column last week that everyone was bored with Winehouse and that no one cared that she had got divorced.
Then Ellen went on for over 200 words about how bored she was and accompanied the piece with a (boring?) two column-width photo of the not-so-happy couple.

So much for boredom. Imagine how much she would have written had she been interested in Amy?

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Chief means business

By Simon Round, July 23, 2009

Chief rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks was spotted in conversation with BBC business editor Robert Peston the other day. So is the United Synagogue about to be taken into public ownership? Will the credit crunch be the subject of the Chief Rabbi’s Rosh Hashanah broadcast? Is Peston about to be inaugurated? As licence fee payers, we really should be told.

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Attacking football

By Simon Round, July 23, 2009

Israeli mobile phone company Cellcom has provoked controversy with its latest advertisement which depicts a group of Israeli soldiers happily playing football with Palestinians over the security fence which separates Israel and the West Bank.

The advert attracted criticism from both Israelis and Palestinians, who felt it failed to reflect the harsh reality of life in the Territories.
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said: “The advertisement presents the barrier as though it were just a garden fence in Tel Aviv.”

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Stopping S-wine flu

By Simon Round, July 16, 2009

Swine flu has claimed another victim, and this time the casualty is a time-honoured Jewish tradition. In a bid to prevent the spread of infection, the head of the largest Chasidic group in Israel has called for a temporary halt to the 200-year-old custom of congregations drinking wine together from the same cup. Instead, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter has ruled that the community should use individual, disposable plastic beakers when making toasts.

According to the Haaretz.com website, Israel has had more than 750 confirmed cases of what the Orthodox community prefers to term Mexican flu.

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A horrible thought

By Simon Round, July 16, 2009

Just as the Chief Rabbi celebrates his peerage comes news that may chill his fans to the marrow. The BBC is debating whether to open Thought for the Day to non-religious contributors. Sir Jonathan is a regular on the so-called “God slot” on Radio 4’s Today programme, and the possibility of his being replaced by a humanist is just too horrible to contemplate.

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