Jenni Frazer

Speculation is rife

By Jenni Frazer, September 8, 2009

Apparently the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, went missing for an unprecedented 10 hours in the last 24. Nobody knew where he was and a very terse statement was finally issued by his office to say he was dealing with a vital security situation, which is, in my experience, Bibi's go-to excuse whenever he wants to go to ground — or his wife won't let him come out to play.
Now, however, rumour abounds that he was in fact visiting an Arab country with which Israel presently does not have diplomatic relations.
My money is on a shopping trip to Dubai. Go on, Beebs, prove me wrong!


They don't get it

By Jenni Frazer, August 28, 2009

Another day and another public relations meltdown for the Israeli government, whose idiocy in failing to make their case during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to London is amply chronicled by editor Stephen Pollard in the paper today.


Netanyahu and Mitchell: 'positive' outcome to talks

By Jenni Frazer, August 26, 2009

Israeli officials were upbeat and optimistic today that a framework for resumed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would be announced "between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur," almost certainly at the UN General Assembly session in New York.

Speculation on a positive outcome to the ongoing talks between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the American special envoy in London, George Mitchell, rose as the four-hour discussions concluded.


Any excuse

By Jenni Frazer, August 24, 2009

Using the not unreasonable hook of press freedom, Roy Greenslade in today's Media Guardian presented a factual account of the Israeli government's building annoyance with the Swedish authorities over the Aftonbladet row.
For new readers, this was the Swedish newspaper's decision to run a story claiming that Israeli soldiers were routinely harvesting body parts from captured Palestinians.


The forgotten treasure hunt

By Jenni Frazer, August 20, 2009

Robert Edsel reaches to the side of his seat and produces a large cardboard box, adorned with the black and red of the Nazi swastika. With the air of a conjurer, he puts on a pair of white gloves and draws out of the box a leather-bound album, its cover barely clinging to the hinges.


They don't like it

By Jenni Frazer, August 18, 2009

An extraordinary amount of vitriol has been directed at me after I recently suggested in the paper that rabbis should stay out of politics. Most of the attacks have been from supporters of the rabbi at Bevis Marks, against whom I have nothing whatsoever, though judging by the vehemence of the language, you might believe the contrary.


Rabbi, you may bore us but stay out of politics

By Jenni Frazer, August 13, 2009

A lot is asked of our rabbis. We want them to be Moshes of all trades: orators, teachers, social workers, visitors to the sick and bereaved.

We want them to be wise and understanding, erudite and spiritually uplifting. And should they have dashed off an academic paper or a book or three, so much the better.

What we — or at least, I — very much don’t want, is a rabbi who is political.

Last week, Rabbi Natan Asmoucha — the rabbi of Britain’s oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks — ran into trouble with the executive of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation.


PR perfection

By Jenni Frazer, August 5, 2009

"Dear Jewish Chronicle,

Please find below brief details of a forthcoming title that we think may be of interest to your readers:

The Christian Prayer Deck (£12.99 Card Pack - September 2009) Christian prayers extend far beyond traditional Biblical wisdom. From a range of sources around the world from antiquity to recent times, they provide wisdom and guidance for our daily lives. The cards in this deck focus on love, forgiveness, courage, grace and thanksgiving."

More proof, if it were needed, that many PRs cannot read.


Rant, rant, rant

By Jenni Frazer, July 30, 2009

A reader — and I use the term loosely — expresses deep anxiety about a story in the Daily Mail, about the police being issued with hijabs in case they have to enter a mosque. When are they going to start issuing the police with kippot in case they have to go in to a shul, she complained.


Actor Harry Towb dies

By Jenni Frazer, July 27, 2009

The distinguished character actor, Harry Towb, has died, aged 83, at his London home.

Mr Towb is said to have been the only Jew born in the Northern Irish town of Larne, County Antrim, but he grew up in Belfast. His family lived for a while in Newcastle on Tyne before returning to Belfast.

Last December he appeared as David, the elderly fiance of scheming Janine Butcher in EastEnders, taking part in a storyline filmed at Hendon United Synagogue.



By Jenni Frazer, July 27, 2009

Listening to this morning's Today programme I just avoided throwing something at the radio, which was a good thing, since I was driving at the time.
Sarah Montague was interviewing the International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, who appears to have forgotten how to speak English.
Was it time, Montague asked, to negotiate with the Taliban? Only, Alexander confidently replied, "if they renunciate violence." "Renunciate"? What's the matter with the word "renounce"? A little later he was warbling about "stabilisation" rather than the word normal people use, "stability."


Fashion victim

By Jenni Frazer, July 24, 2009

Much giggling among the fashion cognoscenti at Amy Winehouse's appearance in court this week, dressed in a mimsy little pinstripe suit and completing the look with a pearl necklace and discreet pearl stud earrings. Ms W is clearly into the Miucca Prada frump look, and has plainly been advised by those in the know that she will get a more sympathetic hearing from the judge if she covers up her tattoos. The astonishing thing, given La Winehouse's previous form, is that she took any notice of someone telling her how to dress. Perhaps her trigger response is no longer "No, no, no..."


Help wanted

By Jenni Frazer, July 20, 2009

Now we know that the Palestinians are in trouble. I have just had an unlikely begging email asking for an immediate $3,500 to rescue someone who is - yes, you guessed it - lost in Nigeria after having been robbed in its capital, Lagos.

Asking for help - allegedly - is none other than the thoroughly admirable Lucy, wife of Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh. In the real world Lucy divides her time between Oxford and Ramallah, working on dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians and helping Palestinian teenagers.


Wet, wet, wet

By Jenni Frazer, July 17, 2009

To everybody's favourite reading, Fort Lauderdale's South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which reports that an "ordained Jewish cantor," Debbie Ballard, is training at a Florida scuba shop in order to perform Jewish weddings under water.
Apparently they get round the glass-smashing by getting the groom to smash a lightbulb with his flipper, while later the couple "sip wine out of a sippy cup", whatever that may be.
The paper has gone as far as consulting local rabbis for an expert opinion.


Er, the horror

By Jenni Frazer, July 13, 2009

I've just learned, with some consternation, that Prime Minister Gordon Brown was born in the same nursing home in Glasgow as me and my brother. (Brown's older, by the way.)
I didn't realise that the Orchard Park Nursing Home, now a hotel, was supposedly the Queen Charlotte's of Glasgow. How aspirant of my parents.
And there was I thinking that the blue plaque in the bar was reserved for us.


Who knew?

By Jenni Frazer, July 13, 2009

Seth Freedman, writing in The Guardian's Comment is Free, discloses his own, difficult experience in appearing on Press TV, which he now acknowledges was a counter-productive activity. The Iranian-funded TV station Press TV, Freedman says, "pretends to be a reputable, impartial broadcaster. In reality, it is anything but."


Sweet smell of excess

By Jenni Frazer, July 9, 2009

As our website story recounts, a man who is a convert to Judaism and is allergic to onions has had his appeal against extradition to Ireland turned down by London's High Court.
The grounds for appeal, he said, were that onions formed a staple part of the Irish prison diet and that they weren't too hot on offering him a kosher regime, either.


The biter bit

By Jenni Frazer, July 9, 2009

Schadenfreude, I think: the story this morning that MPs are to summon past and present News of the World execs to explain themselves in front of a House of Commons committee over the phone-bugging scandal.
I imagine that all those MPs who consider themselves sadly traduced by the investigation into their expenses claims will have been punching the air with glee this morning as the Guardian's scoop unfolded. Now, they will crow, it's our turn...


Yippee (or whatever the Hebrew is)

By Jenni Frazer, July 8, 2009

Hooray, hooray - Easyjet is launching flights to Tel Aviv from November 2.
The lead-in prices are remarkably cheap: just over £100 return plus £8 each way if you check a bag in. Presumably food is extra but it's very tempting.
The problem, unfortunately, is that it doesn't stay that way. When Thomson launched its all too short-lived series of London/Tel Aviv flights a couple of years ago, the first fares were relatively low, too; I flew in January 2008 for about £150 return and thought myself very lucky.


JNF: Projects bloom in desert sand

By Jenni Frazer, July 2, 2009

As far as the eye can see, there is sand. Somewhere over the horizon to the south west, there is Egypt; Gaza is close by, too. But one can see no landmarks, no signposts.

And then you turn on your heel and you see familiar net-covered structures, signifying Israeli agri-tech. And right here, in the middle of this vast Negev nothingness, a group of people are growing food in the sand.