Jenni Frazer

Stay cold-blooded in the sun

By Jenni Frazer, June 25, 2009

Tyro novelists are always told: “Write what you know.” Sometimes — as in experienced non-fiction writer Adam LeBor’s thoroughly enjoyable debut, the political thriller, The Budapest Protocol — this means the reader benefits from a wealth of a particular author’s experience. And Lebor’s hero Alex Farkas is, funnily enough, a British journalist based in Hungary — just like LeBor himself.


Analysis: Livni’s time will come again soon

By Jenni Frazer, June 25, 2009

Once, in the days after Ehud Olmert took over from the unconscious Ariel Sharon, Tzipi Livni was Israel’s Acting Prime Minister, replacing Mr Olmert when necessary and designated to take over from him should the worst happen a second time.


‘Rambo’ John Bercow, JSoc and his far-right links

By Jenni Frazer, June 25, 2009

Half a lifetime ago, two furious Jewish students wrote to the JC to complain about John Bercow, now the new Speaker of the House of Commons.

In 1986, Mr Bercow, then 23, was the ambitious new chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students, sporting a Rambo T-shirt and pursuing, the JC said, “a hard-line aggressive policy with the accent on machismo”.


How curious

By Jenni Frazer, June 24, 2009

I notice, with very little surprise, that there do not appear to be mass protests in the streets of London after the tragic and baseless shooting of the Iranian protestor, Neda Soltan.

Why would this be, I wonder? Could it be that the people who are so eager to turn out on the streets to demonise Israel at every turn are less anxious to offend those who are in charge of the Islamic Republic? Surely not.

Sooner or later an ayatollah will blame the evil Zionists for fomenting unrest against the regime and then it will be safe to demonstrate again. Colour me cynical.


A nose for a good story

By Jenni Frazer, June 18, 2009

How, I wonder, could I have missed this piece of essential information for the world of journalism? The New York Times has a perfume critic.
True, the appointment is now nearly three years old, but hey, some news takes time to filter through and it's always worth saving the best until last.


Bibi’s red lines are not thought through

By Jenni Frazer, June 18, 2009

Netanyahu’s speech on Sunday night anything more than posturing, or is there, as they say in Israel, real “tachlis” in his approach to the Palestinians?

Many commentators are unsure. The approach, they say, is vintage Bibi: a lot of fancy phrases with not much substance at the bottom.
The problem appears to be that while Mr Netanyahu’s “red lines” — in particular, extremely limited sovereignty for the Palestinians — appear to have played well inside his government, not a lot of thought appears to have been given as to how they translate into action.


Analysis: what the Obama speech means

By Jenni Frazer, June 5, 2009

US analysts say President Obama's Cairo speech shows he stands by Israel, but disappoints on the subject of Iran.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrachi, founder of the Israel Project organisation, said: "Obama’s address comes at a time when Americans have clearly stated that they stand with Israel by a seven-to-one margin"


Chicken Little, the sky is falling

By Jenni Frazer, June 4, 2009

Today's Independent gives over the whole of page 2 to a somewhat baffling story, Chicken injected with beef waste sold in UK.

Its standfirst tells readers: Muslims and Jews conned into eating meat bulked out with cow and pig products.

I have read this article several times now and I cannot find any evidence to support this assertion. If one eats kosher chicken, sold in a supervised kosher butcher's shop, the food chain is directly traceable to the shochet with, as far as I understand, no opportunity for the alleged adulteration to occur.


Oh, good grief

By Jenni Frazer, June 3, 2009

Yesterday The Times ran a story asking if the Novogratz family were the coolest in the world. They are, for those who have not read the story, a photogenic Manhattan-based family in which the parents, Robert and Cortney (no, that is not a spelling mistake, but something like a clue as to what follows), have done rather well on property speculation and renovation. So well have they done, in fact, that they are about to be embraced by reality tv, whose various Tarquin execs seem to think that R & C and their adorable brood will make for unmissable viewing.


A mystery

By Jenni Frazer, May 27, 2009

I have just tried to find an Israeli residential phone number via international directory inquiries.

I was in the middle of spelling the town name when the (very nice) operator stopped me. "I'm sorry," she said, "but I can't look it up. It's all in Hebrew. Business numbers are in English, residential numbers are in Hebrew." And, she added, trying to be helpful, "Hebrew is a very difficult language."

Is this a new development? And if so, at whose instigation?
I'd like to be told.


Make mine a Gibson (please don't)

By Jenni Frazer, May 26, 2009

It seems only yesterday — in fact it was just over three years ago — that columnists and commentators were falling over themselves to badmouth Hollywood bad boy Mel Gibson. Gibson, it will be remembered, had fully illustrated the reality of "in vino veritas" by indulging in an antisemitic tirade when pulled over by the police for being drunk.

I recall at the time forecasting that it wouldn't take long before Hollywood would re-clasp Gibson to its bosom since he is, of course, fabulously wealthy.


Circus, circus...

By Jenni Frazer, May 20, 2009

A couple of months ago my niece got married. It was a beautiful and generous simcha; naturally enough, there were many people there I did not know, most of whom, I assumed, were from the bridegroom's side. Walking through the reception area's acres of carpet I all but stumbled on a strange woman in a powder-blue suit, a handbag at her feet. She was juggling.

No-one seemed to know who she was; eventually it emerged that she was a neighbour of the groom and that she, er, enjoyed simchas.


Demjanjuk: 29,000 murder charges

By Jenni Frazer, May 12, 2009

Accompanied by American federal agents, overseeing his deportation from the United States, 89-year-old John Demjanjuk arrived in Munich today to face 29,000 counts of murder as a guard in the Sobibor death camp during the Second World War.

Demjanjuk, a retired car worker, had repeatedly tried to block his deportation from Cleveland, Ohio, but just four days after the US Supreme Court refused to consider his latest request, he was in a wheelchair, being loaded onto the German-bound jet.


A Littlejohn

By Jenni Frazer, May 11, 2009

New readers start here. A favourite catchphrase of the columnist Richard Littlejohn is "You couldn't make it up."

Much the same thought flickered briefly this morning as I listened to the long litany of excuses trotted out by MPs caught in the Telegraph's relentless spotlight over the parliamentary expenses scandal.


Royal Court in squabble over new Gaza play

By Jenni Frazer, May 7, 2009

A new spat has broken out following the staging of controversial Royal Court play Seven Jewish Children, by Caryl Churchill.

A non-Jewish writer, Richard Stirling, wrote his own response, Seven Other Children, which opened this week at Hampstead’s New End Theatre.


To see ourselves as others see us

By Jenni Frazer, May 5, 2009

Hampstead Theatre is celebrating its 50th birthday this year and has chosen to mark it with the revival of its 1975 Michael Frayn hit, Alphabetical Order.

It's set in a newspaper library and though the new production has some starry names - Imogen Stubbs, Gawn Grainger, even ex-Coronation Street's Chloe Newsome - it has to be admitted that the play has not worn well.


On remote hills, two models of harmony

By Jenni Frazer, April 30, 2009

Up in the clear, green spaces of the Galilee, it is easy to forget the stress and backbiting of urban Israeli life.

Rather, what matters in the remote north of the country is harmony, education and economics. Each is inextricably linked. Without education and a decent economy, the already small Jewish population of the region will decrease and decamp to the big cities. And the opportunities for a good education facilitate better relationships between Jewish and Arab citizens — and, ultimately, help to improve investment and thus the economy.


Israeli and Arab kids team up — for cricket

By Jenni Frazer, April 30, 2009

Two weeks ago, if you had asked most children in southern Israel what they thought of cricket, the answer would have been a blank stare. But last week, thanks to a joint project by the Israel Cricket Association and the British charity, Cricket for Change, the response was overwhelming. As the old 10CC song had it: “I don’t like cricket. I LOVE it!”


The Blessed Leonard

By Jenni Frazer, April 24, 2009

It was only a matter of time before the mad professors of Bricup, the academic boycott group, turned their attention to the proposed visit of Leonard Cohen to Israel in September, and urged him not to stage a concert there.

According to a report in Ha'aretz, Haim Bresheeth, Mike Cushman, Hilary Rose and Jonathan Rosenhead, representing the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, sought to soften Mr C up by telling him "Your songs have been part of the soundtrack of our lives, like breathing, some of them."


In another part of the forest

By Jenni Frazer, April 21, 2009

The other great motif of Pesach in Israel is the repulsive "Pesach bread", made out of matza meal, which figures on kosher for Passover menus all over the country.

It seems to have been born out of a belief that Israelis will lose the will to live unless they can have bread - or at least, fake bread - with every single meal.