Jenni Frazer

It's tiring when you're faced with divisions - on both sides

By Jenni Frazer, January 27, 2011

Avigdor "Yvet" Lieberman had plainly had a hard day when he appeared at the JNF's reception on Monday night. Indeed, he made no secret of it; neither did Israel's UK envoy, Ron Prosor, who said feelingly that it had been a long day for them both.

But Mr Lieberman was among friends in a largely right-wing audience which greeted JNF chairman Samuel Hayek's pledge of "unconditional support for Israel" with the biggest applause of the night.


How we know the Queen isn't Jewish

By Jenni Frazer, January 24, 2011

Front page of the Sunday Times yesterday and me and mine are rolling on the floor laughing.
The story? That despite it's being less than 100 days until (gasp!) the Royal Wedding, neither the Queen nor Prince Philip has yet found it necessary to meet Kate Middleton's parents.
You couldn't make it up, really. I mean, I know they're the grandparents rather than the parents, but after all, William and Waitey Katie have been an item for eight years, and in all that time Mrs Windsor hasn't managed to blink a tiara in Carol Middleton's direction. Extraordinary.


Having it both ways

By Jenni Frazer, January 20, 2011

Presumably the judges for the Jerusalem Prize make careful soundings as to whether an intended recipient will be ready to accept the $10,000 award.
Because, naturally, the naysayers have been out in force since the announcement that this year's award is to be given to the British novelist, Ian McEwan, author of The Comfort of Strangers, On Chesil Beach, and Atonement.


Interview: Dan Halutz

By Jenni Frazer, January 13, 2011

Pilots, they say in the Israel Defence Forces, are the most cautious of men. They will check something repeatedly, and then go back to check it again.

So it is not really a surprise to find the ex-fighter pilot and former head of Israel's military, Dan Halutz, is treating his first foreign media interview since entering politics with the utmost care.


The woman who brought down Moshe Katzav

By Jenni Frazer, January 8, 2011

An Israeli political adviser has spoken openly to the JC about her ordeal at the hands of Moshe Katzav, the ex-president whose conviction for rape has stunned the country.

Her story spans 20 years at the heart of the political establishment and her testimony was crucial in his conviction by three judges on charges of rape and sexual harassment against female subordinates.

In a full and frank interview, she told how the kippah-wearing father-of-five professed his love for her, harassed and humiliated her before accosting her in a hotel room.


Giving them the bird

By Jenni Frazer, January 5, 2011

This story is so delicious that it bears re-telling: the fact that the Saudis have arrested a vulture, because it came from Israel.
That's right, an actual vulture, not a cyber-bird, but a real, live (well, it was when it left Israel) predator and scavenger, fitted with a tag saying "Tel Aviv University", which quite obviously means the thing is secretly a Mossad spy.


Half right

By Jenni Frazer, December 30, 2010

After the verdict that found former Israeli President Moshe Katzav guilty on two counts of rape and other charges of sexual harassment, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "This is a sad day for the State of Israel and its residents." He went on to say: "Today, the court conveyed two clear-cut messages — that all are equal before the law and that every woman has exclusive rights to her body."


Good try

By Jenni Frazer, December 13, 2010

I've been made aware of the latest try-on in the dark world of estate agents.
A friend of a friend (no, this is not an urban myth) was selling his flat. You know how it is: nearly all estate agents are equally irritating, and this man's experience was no exception.
Eventually, after several months of messing about - no-shows for appointments, the usual story - our hero was told of a different estate agent who could really do the business for him.
And she did. She produced people who actually came to view when they said they would, secured an offer, and, hooray, hooray, the flat was sold.



By Jenni Frazer, November 30, 2010

A lipstick red, baby grand piano reclines in the vast white marbled reception area. Look up, and above you are 20 glamorous floors of luxury, each with a seemingly endless array of unobtrusive staff, making sure that everything is just so.

This is the fabulous Oberoi Mumbai, in the heart of the up-scale business and shopping district and one of three hotels attacked by terrorists in November 2008. In April 2010, the Oberoi re-opened after a $40 million makeover, and boy, does it show.


Valuable china that survived the Nazis

By Jenni Frazer, November 18, 2010

The remnants of an extraordinary collection are to go, almost literally, under the hammer. Broken china and perfect pieces, part of the Meissen china collection assembled by Gustav von Klemperer, the Jewish chairman of the Dresdner Bank, are for sale at Bonham's in London on December 8.


Getting Britons on Holocaust march

By Jenni Frazer, November 18, 2010

Businessman Scott Saunders was living in Tokyo in 1992 when he went to an event that changed his life.

It was a memorial service at the local Jewish community centre for the wartime Japanese diplomat, Chiune Sugihara, who issued visas to help thousands of Jews escape the Holocaust.

Mr Saunders, who describes himself as "Anglo-Jewish to the core", began to read more about the Holocaust. By 1995 he was living in Hong Kong, where he chaired the synagogue.


By Jenni Frazer, November 16, 2010 is a 50 minute excursion into the mysterious life of the strictly Orthodox in Israel and, specifically, their relationship with the Internet.

It feels, however, more like 50 hours, as the documentary directors Ron Ofer and Yohai Hakak strain repetitively to persuade the viewers to warm to their two main protagonists.


Atonement Day

By Jenni Frazer, November 16, 2010

Kippur, or Atonement Day, is a sweet and rather unexpected short feature film made by the students of the Beit Berl College Film Department in Israel which candidly depicts the gap between religious and secular Jews.

Neta, a medical student, lives in a slightly squalid Tel Aviv apartment with a floating population of permanently stoned flatmates, most of whom spend their time either playing tv games or watching violent films.

For the flatmates, Yom Kippur is just like any other day; and for Neta, too, it's a day when she can take her bike out and cycle round the near deserted streets.


Let a train take you back to the days of the Raj

By Jenni Frazer, November 15, 2010

There is nothing like a train, as the old song nearly had it. Just how true that is I am about to learn. Cruise ship old hands will know the joy of not having to pack and unpack for a multi-centre holiday. Now the last word in luxury travel in India, the Maharajas' Express has launched itself as a palatial hotel on wheels and my home for a glorious week.


The old (and new) boys' club

By Jenni Frazer, November 3, 2010

The Jewish Leadership Council is full of itself, having elected its new trustees this week. Drumroll, please, for "Bicom chairman Poju Zabludowicz, Masorti co-chair Bill Benjamin – whose organisation only joined the JLC recently – and Stephen Lewis and James Libson, who jointly represent the New Leadership Network, a group fostered by the JLC to groom future leaders.


European spat over oligarch role

By Jenni Frazer, October 29, 2010

Three leading members of the European Council of Jewish Communities board resigned this week at the organisation’s Presidents’ Conference in Berlin, in protest at the nomination of Ukrainian oligarch, Igor Kolomoisky, as incoming leader of the ECJC.

Jaws dropped in the plenary session of the conference when the British-based president for the last six years, Jonathan Joseph, announced that the ECJC “had the opportunity to elect as our new president a person from the east — a man with the financial resources” to make the organisation viable once more.


Winds of communal change

By Jenni Frazer, October 29, 2010

If a conference that took place in Berlin last weekend is anything to go by, Jewish leaders in the West need a rapid Russian language induction course — and an equally rapid re-think of how things get done.

Jonathan Joseph, the South African-born, British-based president of the European Council of Jewish Communities, may not have done the Russian Berlitz course yet but he has certainly got to grips with how things get done.


William Hague to visit Israel, but will anyone care?

By Jenni Frazer, October 28, 2010

William Hague is due to make his first visit as Foreign Secretary to Israel next week, expected to include a meeting with leaders of the Palestinian territories.

He will not go to Gaza, although he is due to head to Cairo to meet the Egyptian government.

Mr Hague is no stranger to Israel: he has paid several visits, beginning in 1992, often under the aegis of the Conservative Friends of Israel.


Violet Elizabeth Leigh

By Jenni Frazer, October 18, 2010

"I cannot come, I do not want to come, and I am not coming".
Shan't. Won't. Kick furniture.
Thus the exceptionally mature film-maker Mike Leigh, explaining to the director of the Sam Spiegel School of Film and Television in Jerusalem, Ranan Shor, why he won't be going to Israel next week.


Man Booker winner Howard Jacobson has last laugh

By Jenni Frazer, October 14, 2010

It has taken him 27 years and 15 books, but this week the novelist Howard Jacobson finally won the most prestigious prize in publishing, the Man Booker award, for his novel, The Finkler Question.

The Manchester-born writer, previously longlisted twice for the Man Booker, joked at the Guildhall award ceremony that he had thrown away all his previous speeches of acceptance, while retaining an acute memory of all the judges who had turned him down in previous years.