The Diary

Our capital, Tel Aviv!

By Simon Round, May 21, 2009

Here is your starter for 10. What is the capital of Israel?

All of you who answered “Jerusalem” get top marks.

Ok, so this is not the world’s hardest quiz. But El Al still managed to get it wrong. Its subsidiary, Superstar Holidays, sent out a press release with details of packages to Tel Aviv.

The press release joyously announced: “Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.”

Of course, Tel Aviv does celebrate its centenary this year, but unless they know something that we don’t, Jerusalem is still the capital.

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Lorna in quarantine

By Simon Round, May 21, 2009

Bicom chief executive Lorna Fitzsimons was briefly in quarantine last week with suspected swine flu.

Fitzsimons returned from a trip to the US with suspicious symptoms and was ordered to take herself out of circulation while tests were done.
Thankfully, she turned out to have nothing more than a case of the sniffles.

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Who is the real dummy?

By Simon Round, May 21, 2009

The head of the kashrut department in the Israeli town of Tiberias has been suspended by the mayor after getting a little over-zealous on the matter of “naked” mannequins.

Mayor Zohar Oved was outraged after hearing that Rabbi Rafael Cohen had written to shops ordering them to cover up their dummies in their windows.

Cohen also threatened to publish a list of shops with nude or scantily dressed dummies. “Mannequins in bathing suits damage our souls,” he said.

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My facebook friend

By Simon Round, May 14, 2009

An American now living in Israel has told of the moment his former room-mate, Mark Zuckerberg, created Facebook while at Harvard.

Twenty-six-year-old Arie Hasit told Haaretz how he and his friend ate Shabbat dinner together and raised money for charities in Israel.

One day, Zuckerberg told Hasit that he had decided to to build a website for students. “He said, Arie, I built this site. I want you to sign up.”

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Goldberg’s contract

By Simon Round, May 14, 2009

Keen readers of the JC’s Social & Personal column (aren’t we all?) will have noticed that prominent QC (and the JC’s legal columnist) Jonathan Goldberg has announced that he is to get married “quietly” to his American fiancee, Regina Skyer in New York in October.

We are glad he decided not to keep the engagement quiet, too.

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Iraq’s reactor reaction

By Simon Round, May 14, 2009

The Iraqi Foreign Affairs Committee is (rather belatedly) planning to sue Israel for damages following the bombing of its nuclear reactor in 1981.

This is in reaction to recent reports that a Jewish organisation was demanding compensation for the families of Jews who fled the country in 1947. MP Muhammad Naji Mahmoud has proposed the country sues Israel for “billions of dollars” over the reactor bombing.

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The Jewish Chronicle loves me, says Omid

By Simon Round, May 7, 2009

Iranian-born Omid Djalili has recently been in the news over a Jewish joke to which BBC3 controller Danny Cohen took exception.

However, in his BBC1 show this week, Djalili reminded viewers of his Jewish credentials. Back in the ’90s he performed a show called The Arab and the Jew with Ivor Dembina.

He said: “The Jewish Chronicle called it a beacon of light in an otherwise hopeless situation.” But The Scotsman was not so complimentary. “They said the Arab is better than the Jew but only in the sense that emphysema is better than full-blown lung cancer.”

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Stressed? Eat a tomato

By Simon Round, May 7, 2009

The results of new research announced at a conference in Israel indicates that Israeli tomatoes can considerably reduce blood pressure — and may therefore be the perfect antidote to life in the country itself.

Tomato capsules, which are made from modified, Israeli-grown tomatoes, reduced the blood pressure of volunteers.

Better red than dead then.

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BMI: We can’t find Israel

By Simon Round, May 7, 2009

Passengers on BMI flights to Tel Aviv were in uproar after Israel was wiped off the inflight map — which instead showed the plane heading for Mecca.

The airline denied that it had an anti-Israel agenda. BMI said that the plane had recently been bought from a bankrupt Muslim charter airline and the map had been adapted to show places holy to Islam. A statement announced: “If BMI has any political agenda not to anger neighbouring countries it would not have invested so much in the Tel Aviv line.”

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Syria’s partying

By Simon Round, April 29, 2009

JC columnist Geoffrey Alderman was very surprised to find himself invited by the Syrian Ambassador, Sami Khiyami, to the annual celebration of Syria’s “National Day” at the country’s embassy in London.

Said Alderman: “I have not a clue why I was invited but I accepted. The only person I recognised at the reception was Jeremy Bowen.”

As the only guest sporting a kippah, Alderman admitted that he did receive one or two perplexed glances but said that the behaviour of his hosts was “punctilious”.

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