Jenni Frazer

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.


Oscar-winning director's royal commission

By Jenni Frazer, October 7, 2010

As Arnold Schwartzman acknowledges, it has taken more than half a century for his career to come full circle.

Appointed OBE in 2002 in recognition of his design and film work, Mr Schwartzman, 73, an Oscar-winning documentary film director, has now achieved the ultimate royal commission.

He has designed two enormous murals for the new ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth, which will be officially named by the Queen on October 11.


Graham Norton, Al Murray and the Jewish joke

By Jenni Frazer, September 28, 2010

Al Murray is telling a Jewish joke. And Davina McCall and Brian Ferry are joining in. And, oh, look, there's actor Miranda Hart. And Boy George.

And writer Sanjeev Bhaskar (whose shrug goes right up past his ears). And that burlesque dancer, the fabulously named Immodesty Blaize. And comedians Shazia Mirza and Phil Cornwell. And tv presenter Jamie Theakston. And isn't that Graham Norton?


Just good friends

By Jenni Frazer, September 19, 2010

Seeing this charming picture of the Pope and Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, I felt it was just missing one thing - a balloon above their heads with some indication of what they said to each other. Given their respective expressions I rather hope Pope Benedict was telling the Chief a joke. Or maybe it was just an exchange of "You think you've got aggravation...!"
But all suggestions are welcome.


A suggestion

By Jenni Frazer, September 16, 2010

Apparently the Pope's headgear blew off during the playing of the National Anthem after his arrival in Britain. Joseph, dear boy, you need a yarmulke clip.


Interview: Matthew Gould, ambassador to Israel

By Jenni Frazer, September 7, 2010

Tucked away in an achingly fashionable area of east London, overlooking the river, there is a boldly painted front door. Though neighbours include TV presenter Graham Norton and actress Helen Mirren, this front door sports a discreet mezuzah, and behind it there is a great deal of packing going on.

Matthew Gould, Britain's new ambassador to Israel, is off to Tel Aviv with his wife Celia just after Rosh Hashanah. And he is the first Jewish diplomat to take up such a post.


Enough already

By Jenni Frazer, September 6, 2010

There are people, some in the public eye, some not, who can't do right for doing wrong.
I'm thinking of former Prime Minister Tony Blair. He was attacked and vilified when he announced that both the advance and proceeds from his memoir, "A Journey", would go towards the Royal British Legion, an extraordinarily generous gift which was — inevitably — denounced as blood money.



By Jenni Frazer, September 2, 2010

From a press release, dated September 2:

"Hi There,

Hope this email finds you well, and that the month of August is still with you."


Salt spray. But it's nowhere near the ocean

By Jenni Frazer, August 19, 2010

Pay attention: this is a story of salt and honey, of wine and chocolate and truffles. Oh, and donkeys. In the 17th century, high up in the mountains of Italy's Piedmont region, above the village of Santo Stefano Belbo, lived a community of monks. Their monastery clung to the hills of the Ligurian Appenines, surrounded by the vines and truffles of the valleys. They had migrated from Provence and built the monastery in 1619, bringing with them their knowledge of wine-making.


Baruch dayan emet

By Jenni Frazer, August 8, 2010

Tony Judt's death was announced today. Long life to his family.



By Jenni Frazer, July 22, 2010

Nobody, apparently, was more surprised than the villagers of Villabuena de Alava in Spain's Rioja winemaking region when an extraordinary building started taking shape right next door to their 17th-century church.

But oddly, the small but eclectic Hotel Viura, named for one of the important white wine grapes of the region, now blends into the landscape, despite its ultra-modern concrete cubist architecture.


Mandelson on Judaism, Lord Levy and his JC dad

By Jenni Frazer, July 22, 2010

Lord Mandelson's book, The Third Man, Life At The Heart of New Labour has enjoyed a heady reception in the week since its publication. He has the relieved look of someone who has run a marathon without keeling over, as well he might, since he reveals that he only finished writing two weeks ago. "It only came off the presses the day before the launch," he says. "It was a high-wire act. Now I'm used to living dangerously, flying too close to the sun, but even for me it was a bit of a daredevil project."


Rioja country: Spain with a touch of glass

By Jenni Frazer, July 8, 2010

There are, at present, 317 people living in the isolated northern Spanish village of Villabuena de Alava. But - given its location in the heart of Rioja wine country - it is not surprising that there are 43 wineries.

If you exclude the priest and the mayor, we are probably looking at one winery for every six people.

Travelling from Bilbao airport to Villabuena - my base for a weekend of learning about the best of the bodegas - the eye is immediately struck by three things.


Review: The Chosen One

By Jenni Frazer, July 8, 2010

By Sam Bourne
Harper, £7.99

It would, I suppose, be deeply frustrating, both for the reader and the writer, if real life were to intrude on the neatly wrapped plots of mysteries and thrillers.

Whenever a hero or heroine comes up against a brick wall, in the real world, generally, that's where they tend to stay.

Thrillers, however, demand that the protagonist solves a mystery or unravels the next clue with phenomenal ease.


How far will they go?

By Jenni Frazer, June 25, 2010

Two unlovely human beings, Michael Heaton and Trevor Hannington, have just been convicted at Liverpool Crown Court for a series of racially inciting posts on the internet, on their own warm and cosy Aryan Strike Force website.
Among their choicer comments: "They will always be scum, destroy 'em with whatever it takes" and "I would encourage any religion or race that wants to destroy the Jews, I hate them with a passion."
And: "Kill the Jew, Kill the Jew, Burn down a synagogue today! ... Burn the scum."


Don't use the N word

By Jenni Frazer, June 15, 2010

The former TalkSport presenter, Jon Gaunt, is presenting a remarkable defence in his battle to get his job back after he was fired for calling a councillor a Nazi on air.
His lawyers told the High Court that the word "Nazi" is "now a recognised slang word rather than an historical insult. "There is now a recognised slang of the word Nazi [as] one who imposes their views on others," Gavin Millar told the court.


Life imitates art

By Jenni Frazer, June 4, 2010

Phone rings in the JC Newsroom. "Is that the Jewish Chronicle?"

Me: "Yes."

She: "I know you will think this is silly, but... it's about this so-called aid convoy."

Me: "Yes?"

She:"Well, I wondered if the Israelis had read PD James' book, The Black Tower."

(I am now wondering if it was the right thing to do to have answered the phone.)

Me: "Why?"


And have no eyes to see

By Jenni Frazer, June 2, 2010

A 21-year-old American art student, Emily Henochowicz, took part in a demonstration a couple of days ago in Jerusalem, protesting against Israel's actions in the Gaza flotilla operation. According to the Associated Press, a witness said that Ms Henochowicz, from Maryland, had not taken part in anything violent, but she was on the receiving end of a teargas attack by Israeli soldiers who were dispersing the demonstration. In the event, appallingly, she lost an eye, and is now in Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital recovering until her family can take her home.