Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.
- Simon Rocker
Jan 16, 2009
If you enjoyed Howard Jacobson's Channel Four outing on Sunday to reclaim the Jewish Jesus (see his JC article), then why not take a look at Modern Jews Engage the New Testament. Its author, Rabbi Michael Cook, went down well at the recent Limmud conference and his book was one of the best-sellers at the conference bookstore.
- Danny Caro
Jan 16, 2009
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has turned down the latest contract offer made by the club's board. My concerns are growing. I'm a lifelong Reds fan but it doesn't need me to tell you that the team hasn't been in such a promising position for many years.
I realise that he cannot hold the board to ransom but doubt that he is being totally unreasonable. I sincerely hope that the last few aspects of negotiations can be ironed out in the near future to avoid the repercussions of last season when the club became a laughing stock.
Top of the league, in the knockout stages of the Champions League and still in the FA Cup, nothing must take away Rafa or the team's focus ahead of two huge derbies against Everton.
- Craig Silver
Jan 16, 2009
I was absolutely astounded to see what Manchester City are prepared to offer to prize away one of the world’s best football players from AC Milan.
We’ve known for many years that football is no longer a game, it is quite simply a business. And the deal being discussed this week in Manchester and Milan is utter insanity.
Is any professional football player really worth £100 million? Of course not. And does any person deserve to get paid £500,000 a week. It just makes me angry when I hear about this simply because we are in a global crisis with the recession and to see this sort of money literally being thrown around quite honestly shocks me.
- Alex Kasriel
Jan 16, 2009
I met PR supremo and mother of five, Julia Hobsbawn at The Groucho Club yesterday.
The exclusive members bar was a fitting place for the interview considering the power woman is best buddies with anyone who is anyone in the media industry.
We were talking about her new book, The See Saw, which is all about work life balance. Most people I have mentioned this to immediately grimace at the thought. "She just wants to talk about herself" or "She's just showing off!" they say. But maybe we can learn something from her.
- Jenni Frazer
Jan 15, 2009
An extraordinary exchange this morning on Radio 4's Today programme between Israel government spokesman Mark Regev and the programme's resident rottweiler, John Humphrys. The latter, in full attack-dog mode, launched proceedings with a terse "Good morning to you!" and it was all downhill from thereon in.
Humphrys, in his self-appointed role as the representative of all journalists, everywhere, had two complaints for Regev: 1. why hadn't Regev allowed the BBC into Gaza, and 2. why hadn't Regev taken into account that there were going to be civilian casualties — "you must have known."
Ok, it is undeniably Mark Regev's job to fend off this kind of interviewing, but even the most casual listener might have congratulated him on his self-restraint. Most people would have lost their temper with Humphrys long before: his sheer snarling rudeness surely went beyond the bounds of tough questioning - of which, incidentally, I am in favour.
- Daniella Peled
Jan 14, 2009
It’s never nice when old friends fall out. But it’s hard to imagine a more high-profile spat than that between the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the US.
In an exceptionally rare statement, the White House insisted that Ehud Olmert’s account of a 3am phone call to George Bush to persuade Condoleezza Rice to abstain from a UN ceasefire vote as “100 per cent, totally, completely not true”.
The fact that the US merely abstained, rather than vetoing the resolution, is being seen as a huge failure of Israeli diplomacy. Jerusalem was genuinely stunned by the decision.
- Candice Krieger
Jan 13, 2009
British retail sales fell at the fastest pace on record last month and experts warn that things will only get worse. Not the best time then to be getting involved then? Unless you're Israeli it seems.
Magnolia, Israel's leading retailer of silver jewelry, has recently set up shop in London's Brent Cross shopping centre, with plans for further UK stores in the pipeline, while designer Michal Negrin continues to increase her presence - in Selfridges, Liberty and Harrods to name a few. Contemporary fashion chain Castro is also rumoured to be opening in the UK later this year.
And it was reported today in Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot that Primark, that increasingly popular value clothing brand, is in negotiations with Israeli fashion chain H&O, to sell its stock in Israel. H&O Chairman and President Dr. Israel Peleg confirmed that the negotiations are taking place but refused to reveal details.
- Jenni Frazer
Jan 12, 2009
The police have had a rough time of it over the last couple of weeks as they attempt - often at considerable personal risk - to maintain public order at the increasingly violent anti-Israel demonstrations in the capital.
However, according to the Evening Standard, Met Police Commander Bob Broadhurst is planning "discussions with both sets of protestors this week to prevent any more violence." He said, again according to the paper, "We will need to sit down and talk to organisers and say 'enough's enough.'"
Forgive me but as far as I know, it's not the pro-Israel demonstrators who have smashed and looted their way through shops and businesses and racked up a policing bill of more than £1 million. Commander Broadhurst is welcome to sit and talk to the Stop the War Coalition, under whose aegis much of this charmless behaviour appears to have occurred - but so far the Jewish side has behaved like law-abiding meerkats. As one might expect. They hardly need a metaphorical smack on the wrist from the cops.
- Jan Shure
Jan 12, 2009
I can't prove this - though I suspect that one of the Middle East monitoring organisations has some statistics - but I have a strong suspicion that the Israel-Palestine conflict generates more shturm and drang among the non-involved than any other world issue. And, lest you think I mean on Israel's side, I do not. I mean the members of the general populace, the chattering classes, who have no connection either by birth or residence to the region yet - with a handful of notable exceptions - are stirred to virulent anti-Israel rhetoric whenever there is any flare-up in the region.
This anti-Israel sentiment manifests itself in calls to radio phone-ins, letters to newspapers, advertisements signed by academics, medics and lawyers, and in demonstrations whose slogans frequently deny Israel's right to exist.
But, where, I wonder is this passion, and where are the letters, calls to phone-ins and raised voices for the victims of other conflicts across the world - for Tibet, Burma, Somalia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Congo. And where were the campaigns, demonstrations and marches across London during the Rwandan genocide, or when Serbs where carrying out ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.
- Jenni Frazer
Jan 9, 2009
I see from the BBC website that Jeremy Bowen, its Middle East editor, has an online diary which he has called "Unanswered Questions", such as how long the conflict is going to last and why it is that he doesn't know the names of dead Palestinians while simultaneously attending the funeral of an Israeli soldier, Natei Stern.
This morning on the Today programme Bowen gravely read out in its entirety a press statement issued by the International Red Cross in Gaza. The allegation, shocking in itself, is that Israeli soldiers herded a group of 100 Palestinians into a house in Gaza which was targeted a day later by Israeli warplanes, killing 35 of those inside. Bowen insisted that the IRC claim, based on eyewitness testimonies, was credible and had to be taken seriously.
So ask the Israelis, I shouted at the radio. Ask them what they say. Nothing. No opportunity given to the Israelis to confirm or deny this. Now that's what I call an unanswered question.