The Diary

Jews vote for voting

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

Whether or not you vote may well depend on your religious orientation, according to a study published in Social Science Quarterly.

The survey of 1,712 adults concluded that people who see God as being directly involved in world affairs — for example, evangelical Protestants — were less likely to vote. However, Jews who see God as a little more laissez-faire tended to go to the polls more regularly.

The Labour Party may hope Christians are nearer the mark, because if current opinion polls are correct, it looks as if only God can save Gordon Brown now.

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New kind of wedding card

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

Time was when you would have to think ahead when buying a wedding present — ie leafing through the John Lewis list for items within your price range.

Well, thanks to enterprising Israelis, from now on you will  not need to buy a gift until you arrive at the venue.

If you are attending a simchah at the Gan Oranim hall in Tel Aviv, you will be able to insert your credit-card into a machine, tap in a sum and leave a gift for the bride and groom.

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I’m modest, so fly me

By Simon Round, July 18, 2008

There are plenty of things to consider when booking an airline ticket. What is the best price? Does it fly direct to your destination? What is the food like?

And then there is: how does you airline rank for modesty? The Rabbinical Transportation Committee in Israel has ranked international carriers on modesty, particularly in the films they offer.

Flights that score best are those which screen no films. Those offering films on personal screens also score well, although the rabbis advise  a personal “foldable curtain”.

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Mind your language, Eli

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008

There are signs that the Israeli government might not be treating the process of welcoming and integrating immigrants with a great deal of importance.

Why? Well, the newly appointed absorption minister, Eli Affalo, does not speak a word of English. That may prove significant when one’s job entails a large number of conversations with English-speakers.

A source close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defended the decision, saying: “Speaking English is not part of the criteria.”

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Williams: Heavens can wait

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he will not be taking to the heavens in an aeroplane — with one exception.

Rowan Williams told Green Futures magazine that he intends to keep his feet firmly on the ground in an attempt to leave as small an ecclesiastical carbon footprint as possible. He is, however, making one exception. “The only fixed flight this year is a trip to Auschwitz. After that I’m looking at travelling by train in Europe.”

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UJIA’s dinner dilemma

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008
Word reaches us of a terrible dilemma confronting UJIA. It’s being strongly rumoured that Gordon Brown has been pencilled in as the main speaker for their autumn fundraising dinner. Which, under other political circumstances, would be lovely — except that Mr Brown’s prospects are not currently looking too rosy. So we hear that there has been some concern within the organisation — the word “panic” has been used — about whether they should think again, just in case he is not the PM at that point. A spokeswoman promises to get back to us, but somehow never does. Very politic.

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A novel correction

By Simon Round, July 11, 2008
Two weeks ago, we reported a correction from the Daily Mail apologising for falsely suggesting that David Gest had contracted a sexually transmitted disease and had Liza Minnelli’s dog killed. Here is another beauty from The Guardian concerning a book by The Times’s Jewish editor, James Harding. “James Harding’s book, Alpha Dogs, is not a searing, gripping novel as we said in a diary item. It is a work of non-fiction about a firm of US political strategists.”

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Parade? What parade?

By Simon Round, July 4, 2008

You may have been among the thousands attending the “Salute to Israel” parade in London on Sunday. So how did London’s paper, the Evening Standard, report the event? Well, the paper carried a centre-spread photo showing Spanish football fans celebrating their Euro 2008 triumph  in Piccadilly Circus on Sunday night.

The caption read : “In among the sea of red and yellow is a lone Israeli flag, presumably left lying around after a parade earlier in the day to celebrate 60 years of the state of Israel.”

Yes, that was it.

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Sharansky talks pants

By Simon Round, July 4, 2008

At the Conservative Friends of Israel annual business lunch last week, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said he had vivid memories of Soviet dissident and retired Israeli politician Natan Sharansky walking across the Glienicke Bridge in West Berlin on his release from prison in 1986.

Mr Osborne said: “When I met him years later, I asked him what he was thinking as he crossed the bridge, and he said: ‘I had lost so much weight, and because my belt had been taken, I was terrified my trousers would fall down’.”

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Israeli - and big in Beirut

By Simon Round, July 4, 2008

Israel and Lebanon may not be on talking terms right now, but Lebanese music fans can’t get enough of an Israeli transsexual singer (and, no it’s not Dana International).

Say No More, a dance track by Aderet, who had the operation 10 years ago, has been at the top of the playlist this month on the Beirut Nights internet radio station devoted to dance music. Said Aderet: “They know I’m an Israeli singer, and that it’s an Israeli song. It feels great.”

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