The Diary

Not All Right, Wright

By Simon Round, June 18, 2009

President Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, made the headlines last week when he asserted “them Jews” were depriving him of access to Obama.

The negative publicity persuaded him to apologise. “I’m not talking about all Jews... I’m talking about Zionists,” he explained.
Oh, well that’s OK then.

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Adam: Al qaeda’s top jew

By Simon Round, June 18, 2009

They say the Jews get everywhere, well here is proof that one has ended up in a very unlikely position — running Al Qaeda.
Adam Yahiye Gadahn, also known as Azzam the American, is one of the most influential Al Qaeda activists. In a new video, he has spoken about his Jewish roots for the first time.

Gadahn’s grandfather was Jewish but don’t expect any reminiscences about bowls of chicken soup on a Friday night.

Gadahn is fairly hardcore — indeed, he is on the FBI’s most wanted list,

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He’s a dead good writer

By Simon Round, May 27, 2009

The Jewish Book Week newsletter offers a hearty well done to the winner of this year’s Jewish Quarterly Wingate literary prize. “Congratulations,” it gushes, “to Fred Wander”, author of the novel, The Seventh Well. Very gratifying for Mr Wander. Or it would be, were it not for the fact that he died in 2006, something the newsletter fails to mention.

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Advice to bridle at

By Simon Round, May 27, 2009

Talking of mother-in-laws, bride grooms in Jerusalem are being urged to stay away from them because of their tendency to meddle in matrimonial affairs.

The advice comes in a pamphlet handed out by the Jerusalem Religious Council to men attending its classes on marriage. Other pearls include the insight that a “woman is like clay. The husband can shape and mould her as he pleases”, and the observation that “a woman who hasn’t been complimented is like a fish out of water”. “It makes you want to cry,” comments Knesset member Uri Orbach, who has received complaints.

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Bert’s Jewish by Marriage

By Candice Krieger, May 27, 2009

Great excitement on the JC’s arts and entertainment desk this week with the arrival of an email offering an interview with Bert Jansch. What? You mean the award-winning, Scottish folk-rock guitar hero? The man Neil Young and Jimmy Page count as a seminal influence? That Bert Jansch? We had absolutely no idea he was Jewish.

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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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