The Diary

Anne Frank a soft target

By Simon Round, November 20, 2008

Alexander Furnishings in Wigmore Street in London's West End is currently stocking a range of cushions with black and white images of heroes, such as the Martin Luther King, Princess Diana, er, Tony Blair and... Anne Frank. Whatever next? Auschwitz prints for the living room wall?

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Obama’s Israeli cousins

By Simon Round, November 20, 2008

One group of Israelis is very happy with the victory of Barack Obama in the US presidential election - they believe they are related to him.

The Bedouin tribesmen of the northern village of Bir al-Maksour say they plan to travel to Washington to congratulate Obama personally.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Abdullah told Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot that Obama's Kenyan grandfather was married to one of the tribe's women. He said: "With us Bedouins, you know who you're related to, even after many generations."

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Can we copy? Yes we can

By Simon Round, November 20, 2008

Have you noticed the stunning similarity between America’s President-elect, Barack Obama and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu? Possibly not. However, if you check out the two politicians’ websites, you will find they are almost identical in appearance, with a blue background and spookily similar layout. Could it be that Obama’s team were so impressed with the veteran Israeli former prime minister’s website that they decided to copy it for their triumphant campaign? Or is it just possible that Netanyahu is hoping that some of the Obama sparkle might rub off on him?

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Another Jewish chief

By Simon Round, November 20, 2008

There has been a fair amount of consternation in the Muslim world over the appointment of a Jew, Rahm Emmanuel, as Barack Obama's Chief of Staff.

The fact that Emmanuel, who has dual Israeli-US citizenship, has made no secret of his support for Israel has worried many Arabs.

Strange therefore that there was not such a huge fuss when the current Chief of Staff, Joshua Bolten was appointed by George W Bush. Bolten is just as Jewish as Emmanuel. He even keeps kosher. We won't tell anyone if you don't.

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Kapoor to rock Brighton

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

The Brighton Festival has appointed Indian-Jewish sculptor Anish Kapoor to the newly created role of guest artistic director. The Mumbai-born 54-year-old Turner Prize winner, who will take up his job in May, says, of course, that he feels honoured. "The city will provide a unique backdrop for my work and the inspiration for many new events and ideas." Given the sculptor's affection for curved shapes, the owners of Brighton's pier might be slightly worried.

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The Blair scare project

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

In a major case of ‘doh!', Tony Blair's bodyguard accidentally fired his handgun at Ben-Gurion International Airport. It is thought he was unloading the weapon outside the terminal building when it went off. No one was hurt but airport security and police rushed to the scene. It's not the first time Middle East peace envoy Blair has unwittingly alarmed Israeli authorities. In May, Israeli fighter jets scrambled to intercept an unidentified aircraft suspected to be hostile, only to find out that it carried the former PM.

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Ivanka’s ours now

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

The daughter of property tycoon Donald Trump is converting to Judaism. Ivanka Trump, 27, who is engaged to Jewish businessman Jared Kushner, is attending Orthodox synagogue Kehilat Jeshurun in Manhattan's East Side. The former model, who now helps to run her father's business, is hoping to marry next year - and Mr Trump will have a Jewish daughter and son-in-law. Welcome to the fold, Donald.

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Oh yes, we get offended

By Alex Kasriel, November 13, 2008

In its latest issue, secularist magazine The New Humanist searches for the world's best religion in a game of "God Trumps". Judaism gets eight out of 10 for follower dedication - "no bacon sandwiches ever," the magazine observes, "that's dedication" - but also eight out of 10 for its "daffiest doctrine", niddah. The magazine reckons that Jews are "not really" given to having broigeses, getting just five out of 10 in the "easily offended" category. They don't know us very well, do they?

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Dress does not impress

By Simon Round, November 7, 2008

The left-wing Meretz party in Israel has long campaigned against religious control of Israeli life.

However, an advertisement promoting a Meretz candidate in the Ramat Gan municipal election on a secular ticket has been pulled from buses - because the candidate's sleeves were considered too short.
Meretz's Ramat Gan branch were told this week that if the sleeves of candidate Yuli Goldstein were not lengthened, the ads could not be posted on local buses.

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Save Brand, says George

By Simon Round, November 7, 2008

George Weiss, the founder of the surrealistic political party the Rainbow Coalition, has started a campaign to get disgraced presenter Russell Brand back on the radio.

Rainbow George, who has been on Brand's show a number of times, told the Diary that he was due to be a guest on the fateful night of the obscene phone calls.

"When they got Jonathan Ross, they decided they didn't need me. I don't think any of this would have happened if I had been there," he said.

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