The Diary

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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Tsores in congress

By Simon Round, August 6, 2009

A US Congressman found himself in a spot of bother with the chairman of a committee over his language during a debate on the healthcare system.

In an impassioned speech, Anthony Weiner lapsed into the Yiddish vernacular.

He said: “We’re not going to take hundreds of billions of dollars every single year and give it to insurance companies who give us bupkis [nothing].”

“The gentleman will speak English,” Weiner was told, to much mirth, by the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman.

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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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