Simon Round

My hero, Nasrallah

By Simon Round, February 18, 2009

Clients of law firm Watson Farley & William might be interested to read in the latest edition of The Lawyer magazine about the likes and dislikes of partner Michael Wachtel.

In the magazine’s “Work-Life” quiz, Wachtel says his hero is “Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, not because of his politics or his ideology but because he refused to be intimidated by a much stronger foe and won.”

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Bad sign for journalist

By Simon Round, February 12, 2009

Normally, the protocol for a journalist is that when one is attending an event featuring a major political figure, one does not ask for his autograph.

However, Robert Feuereisen, who works for the New York-based Jewish World Review website, simply could not contain himself when reporting a recent Barack Obama event in Washington, and jumped the ropes separating reporters from guests in order to ask for the president’s signature.

Binyamin Jolkovsky, the editor of the site, said that Feuereisen’s 12-year-old son had “driven him crazy” to get Obama’s signature.

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Praying can extend life

By Simon Round, February 12, 2009

Being religious can actually be a life saver.

Blossom and Israel Rubin wrote to the Jerusalem Post explaining how their soldier grandson had been davening in Gaza.

“As a group of soldiers bowed down at the call of barechu, a sniper’s bullet whizzed over one soldier. Had he not bent over … the bullet would almost certainly have ripped through his head.”

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Dinner? No thanks

By Simon Round, February 12, 2009

Reports reach the Diary that Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks has invited Leader of the Opposition David Cameron to dine at his home on three occasions, and three times has been told that Cameron is unable to attend.

Of course, it may be that there is a genuine problem with dates — after all, Mr Cameron is an extremely busy man.

However, one Conservative insider tells us that the Tory Party leader is a little worried about the fact that Rabbi Sacks’s daughter, Gila Sacks, works in Gordon Brown’s office and that any conversation could get back to the Prime Minister? Surely not.

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Taking the religion out of circumcision

By Simon Round, February 12, 2009

In many parts of the world, when couples choose to have a family there is a strong preference for a boy. Not among secular Jewish couples, though. Reform rabbi Jonathan Romain has noticed the opposite preference — they nearly always hope for a girl. It is not that this section of the community has anything against baby boys, but rather that having a girl frees them from the responsibility of worrying about circumcision.

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Interview: John Mann MP

By Simon Round, February 12, 2009

Labour MP John Mann is not Jewish. He is a blunt, tough-talking former trade union official from Yorkshire who says he has only ever come across one Jew in his Bassetlaw constituency in Nottinghamshire. There may be nothing Jewish in his background but, according to informed figures, no-one has done more than Mann in recent years to fight hatred against British Jews.

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Recipe for seduction

By Simon Round, February 12, 2009

What are the essentials for seducing a man? A splash of expensive perfume, perhaps? A little black dress? Seductive body language? Well, according to author Penny Lewis, it is none of the above. What you need is a nice piece of steak, a tomato and a spud.

Lewis, with co-writer Sarah Lockett, has written The Dish, which is intended to show women how to incorporate food in a strategy to win men over. You should cook for your date, she feels, but don’t go making elaborate soufflés or that perfect sauce hollandaise — because the key to success is simplicity.

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Trees are not green

By Simon Round, February 5, 2009

You would think that Tu’bshvat (the new year for the trees), with its message of celebrating nature, would be regarded as the ultimate green festival.

However, green campaigners in Israel are urging people not to do the traditional thing by planting a tree.

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End for crusaders

By Simon Round, February 5, 2009

Cricket’s Middlesex Crusaders are to change their name to the Panthers following complaints about their name.

Vinny Codrington the club’s chief executive confirmed that there had been “one or two complaints” from Jews and Muslims.

He added “One of our former presidents was Jewish and he didn’t particularly like the name.”

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Blessing for votes scandal

By Simon Round, February 5, 2009

Over here we had the cash for votes scandal. In Israel, they are having their own version — the blessings for votes scandal.

The Shas party has had part of its advertising campaign banned by the Israeli watchdog because its spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is seen to give blessings to voters.

Exchanging blessings for votes is banned in Israel in accordance with the elections law But Shas chairman Eli Yishai objected to the judgement calling the General Elections Committee, “a dictatorship of judges”.

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Interview: Michael Peters

By Simon Round, February 5, 2009

For most people, airport departure lounges are not the most joyful places to spend time — merely the prelude to a holiday or a return home. However, Michael Peters recently had one of his most satisfying moments as he waited to catch a plane from the south of France.

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Let it be Yiddishe

By Simon Round, January 29, 2009

Sir Paul McCartney seems to have found himself another nice Jewish girl.

Rich New Yorker Nancy Shevell is, say insiders, set to become the former Beatle’s third wife, and the second one with a Jewish background.

Sir Paul enjoyed a blissfully happy marriage to Linda Eastman, like Sevell from an affluent Jewish family, but it all went wrong when he said hello and then goodbye to working class North Eastern lass Heather Mills.

Macca has obviously learned his lesson and does not plan to marry out again.

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Removes Jewishness - guaranteed

By Simon Round, January 29, 2009

It is amazing what you can find at the shops these days. There is even medication for people who feel that little bit too Jewish.

JC reader Hilary Bracey from Liverpool was staggered to find in her receipt from Home Bargains in Liverpool that she had purchased 500g container of Ace Gentile Powder for 99p.

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Rachel won it for Israel

By Simon Round, January 29, 2009

Israel’s intelligence capabilities have often been praised. Now a possible explanation of why they get things right so often: divine intervention. A story is doing the rounds of how a beautiful woman, thought to be Rachel (the matriarch rather than the Strictly Come Dancing star) assisted troops in Gaza.

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Hairdressing or pizza delivery?

By Simon Round, January 29, 2009

I was up and about early this morning searching for green shoots. The ones I was specifically looking for were the green shoots of economic recovery but to be honest I would have been happy to have spotted a snowdrop or a daffodil popping through. However, there was little to see. Deep recession and deep freeze is a rather depressing combination

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Interview: Edward Zwick

By Simon Round, January 29, 2009

Amid the fuss surrounding The Reader’s nomination for the best picture Oscar, the fact that another Holocaust movie figures on the list of films to be feted at the Academy Awards in three week’s time has gone largely unnoticed.

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Is it love or hate?

By Simon Round, January 22, 2009

The New York Post has accused singer Courtney Love (the widow of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain) of antisemitism.

In an article for Jewish magazine Heeb, Love (who is Jewish) said: “Every time you buy a Nirvana record part of that money is not going to Kurt’s child or to me, it’s going to... a handful of Jew loan officers, Jew private banks, it’s going to lawyers who are also bankers.”

Heeb publisher Joshua Neuman reckoned the Post should keep its opinions to itself. In a comment on the magazine’s blogsite, Neuman wrote: “Like it or not, this is how Jews talk to Jews.” Is it?

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Mini driver arrested

By Simon Round, January 22, 2009

A mother was so delighted that her 11-year-old daughter had done well in a school exam that she allowed her to joy-ride in the family car. Police in Tel Aviv were staggered to discover a young girl behind the wheel, and her mother in the passenger’s seat.

The mother explained she had promised the child she could drive the car if she got an “A”.

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Nul points from Arabs

By Simon Round, January 22, 2009

In Britain, the controversy over the Eurovision Song Contest usually revolves around Terry Wogan’s participation, but in Israel it is taken much more seriously.

When it was announced that Christian Arab singer Mira Awad would perform alongside Jewish songstress Achinoam Nini, known as Noa, Israeli Arabs were furious.

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Interview: Steven Berkoff

By Simon Round, January 22, 2009

What better place to talk to Steven Berkoff about his new stage adaptation of the classic Hollywood movie On the Waterfront than on the waterfront — more specifically in Berkoff’s studio perched a few feet above the Thames in London’s Docklands?

It is an appropriate setting to discuss a topic that has long been dear to his heart. As a teenager growing up in the Jewish East End, Berkoff felt a great affinity with the film, which was released in 1954 and starred Marlon Brando as docker Terry Malloy in a story about mob violence and corruption among New York’s longshoremen.

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