The Diary

Dastardly Dick's dig

By Simon Rocker, November 4, 2010

The Board of Deputies' 250th anniversary bash with Tony Blair has sold so well, it's being moved to a larger venue.

Expect further snarls from Indie columnist Richard Ingrams, who recently had a go at Blair and the Board, calling it a "body of self-appointed worthies who make it their business to defend the interests of their country against its critics". (By "their country", he means "Israel".)

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A lion in the ladies' den

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2010

Much in the media about Howard Jacobson following his Man Booker Prize success last week.

Apparently his mother thought The Finkler Question too Jewish to win: she was also upset not to see the closing words of his acceptance speech on TV when coverage switched instead to some surfacing Chilean miners.

The novelist was meanwhile picking a bone with Philip Roth, telling the Guardian that the American Roth "thinks English Jews have no balls. He's wrong about that - not least because he doesn't understand England or English Jews. He thought this is a hotbed of antisemitism."

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Not so easily impressed

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2010

Independent editor Simon Kelner, who launches spin-off title i next week, must still be on a mission to prove himself. When appointed Indy chief in 1998, he rang his mother. Instead of the mazeltovs, she asked about his predecessor Rosie Boycott. "She's gone off to edit the Express," he said. "Now that's a job," she replied.

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Booba in the dug out

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2010

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson appeared, according to the Guardian’s Barney Ronay this week, in the “surprise role of managerial Jewish grandmother”. So can we expect to see him dispensing cups of chicken soup at half-time, pinching Wayne Rooney’s cheeks and saying “Don’t worry, bubbeleh”?

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Grade stands by the BBC

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2010

The BBC may have spent more than a quarter of a million pounds resisting solicitor Steven Sugar's Freedom of Information campaign to force it to release the 2004 Balen report on its Middle East coverage.

But the corporation's stance is defended by its former chairman Michael Grade. The document had no place in the public domain, he said to a Board of Deputies lunch on Tuesday.

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Osborne for Board bash

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2010

Chancellor George Osborne will join the Board of Deputies for their 250th anniversary dinner next month (one place at least where he can avoid the word "cuts"). Meanwhile, fellow speaker Tony Blair, who can fetch up to £200,000 for a lecture, has waived his fee.

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Chewing over the booker

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2010

Howard Jacobson may have scooped Britain's top literary prize but, alas, he missed out on the Bunny Booker.

North London journalist Carol Muskoron offered her twist on this week's competition by giving all shortlisted Booker titles to her rabbits Audrey and Harrison to eat.

The book they munched the most would be the winner. But alas, The Finkler Question proved not to be so chewsworthy, coming only third.

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Bicom chair's Exodus link

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2010

Bicom chairman Poju Zabludowicz was among guests at a launch for Operation Exodus, a new book about the refugee boat intercepted by the British before it reached Palestine in 1947.

The event was arranged by London TV producer Jill Samuels, founder of the charity Films Without Borders, who did the interviews for the book.

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Gay wedding notice banned

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2010

A Jewish newspaper in New Jersey has banned same-sex marriage announcements, the day after the first happy couple had their nuptials printed. Justin Rosen and Avi Smolen's wedding announcement was in the Jewish Standard, complete with a smiling picture of the couple.

The newspaper said that following "negative comments", other such announcements would not be printed. Editor Rebecca Kaplan Boroson wrote an editorial explaining that it was a "divisive issue". But after outraged comments on the newspaper's website, publisher James Janoff said they were reconsidering their decision.

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Getting their lines crossed

By Simon Rocker, October 7, 2010

A simple tale of a Cardiff mum's anger at yobs on a train took a dark twist when the Press Association sent out an illustration with the news story - a picture of the Auschwitz rail tracks.

Blamed on "human error", the picture appeared alongside the story on local newspaper websites including the Cambridge News. PA apologised and removed the picture, saying in a statement: "We apologise for any offence caused by this unfortunate human error.

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