The Diary

Nick Hewer goes to Israel

By Simon Rocker, June 17, 2010

Happily returned from his first visit to Israel is Nick Hewer of BBC Apprentice fame. "It was wonderful," he said. "I spent a lot of time in Jerusalem and I found the whole thing fascinating."

He visited earlier this month to attend the wedding of Nick Bildner to Natasha Orson. Her twin Anna Orson also got married in Israel a few days later to Adam Abrams.

But I doubt whether the pink shirt Lord Sugar's right-hand man wore for the occasion will be allowed many appearances in the boardroom.

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Middle Eastern whispers

By Simon Rocker, June 17, 2010

The New Statesman reported that Tim Franks, the BBC's outgoing Middle East - and Jewish- correspondent, had revealed on radio that he was leaving because of rumours that he had got the job through Israeli lobbying.

Actually, all Franks did was to recall a remark at the news of his appointment (in 2007) by a non-Jewish family friend who had told a relative of his that it had come about because of pressure put on the BBC's director-general by the previous Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon. He certainly didn't cite that as a reason for going.

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Mr Burt's reading list

By Simon Rocker, June 17, 2010

At a Foreign Office lunch for Jewish and Israeli journalists, the newly appointed minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, asked them which books he ought to read before visiting the region. He had put the same question to Arab journalists the week before.

If you have your own recommendations for the minister's reading list, send them in and I'll try to pass them on.

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The 'Israeli' ambassador

By Simon Rocker, June 17, 2010

Has Matthew Gould, Britain's new Jewish ambassador to Israel, gone native before he even gets there?

Speaking at Borehamwood Synagogue, the personable envoy was asked how he felt in a previous diplomatic posting in Pakistan. "Well," he said, "I didn't walk round announcing that I am Israeli."

Much audience chuckling before he corrected himself.

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World Cup Matisyahu

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2010

Jewish interest in the World Cup may be confined to a couple of players in the USA team and there isn't even an Israeli referee (which may be just as well). But at least we can draw pride from the inclusion of reggae Chasid, Matisyahu, on The Official Fifa World Cup 2010 album.

His song One Day is one of the 12 tracks picked for the charity record and contains the words "It's not all win or lose, We all lose".

A consoling thought when watching England.

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The problem on a plate

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2010

My colleague Marcus Dysch wanted to call in the clampers when he spotted the numberplate on this car, which was parked outside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign's press conference about the Gaza flotilla in London last week.

BDS is the common abbreviation for boycotts, divestment, sanctions, so was this an attempt to take the anti-Israel message on the road?

But his suspicions were allayed when he noticed that next door was the Barbados High Commission. BDS, we rather think, stands innocently for Barbados.

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Foxhunting in Hackney

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2010

If only they had listened to former Mayor of Hackney Joe Lobenstein.

After baby twins in the borough were attacked in their cot by a fox, Mr Lobenstein revealed that he had warned the council of the threat from the creatures years ago.

The local Charedi community has mounted anti-crime patrols: perhaps they should now mobilise against the bushy-tailed menace on the streets.

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On the lawpath

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2010

QC Roy Amlot joined legal critics of Israel's interception of the Gaza flotilla, co-signing a letter to TheTimes with Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights chairman Daniel Machover suggesting UN sanctions if Israel failed to co-operate with an investigation.

27 years ago, Mr Amlot prosecuted the would-be assassins of Israel's London Ambassador Shlomo Argov: the attempt on the envoy's life triggered the First Lebanon War.

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Tel Aviv, capital of Israel?

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2010

The Advertising Standards Authority provoked a storm of protests when it ruled an Israeli tourist ad could not display the Western Wall. But should another watchdog, the Press Complaints Commission, expect a knock on the door from the Board of Deputies, too?

The PCC this week rejected a complaint from Geoffrey Alderman against a Sunday Times sub-headline, which he argued wrongly implied that Tel Aviv was Israel's seat of government.

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Split over salmon

By Simon Rocker, June 3, 2010

An argument has been going on among strictly Orthodox rabbis over the past few months about whether wild salmon is unkosher because of a tiny worm that dwells in the fish. I won’t belabour you with the details but one of the most prominent pro-banners happens to be named Rabbi Moshe Karp.

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