Simon Round

Interview: Mark Regev

By Simon Round, December 18, 2008

As the Israeli Prime Minister’s official spokesman, Mark Regev spends a lot of time being interviewed on television and radio. However, while he has no problem with his highly visible role, he likes it best when no one is interested in talking to him.

It is not that Regev is shy or reticent to promote Israel’s position. It is simply that when the news networks are clamouring to talk to him, it invariably means that something has gone badly wrong.

More..

Seeds of hatred

By Simon Round, December 11, 2008

An American supermarket group is in trouble after it was discovered it was stocking a virulently antisemitic packet of... sunflower seeds
The owner of the Net Cost group apologised when shoppers started complaining about a brand of seeds featuring a sinister looking, kippah-wearing Jew.

The packet bore the label “Shalom from Israel” in Russian and, on the other side, a slang phrase meaning “spit them out everywhere”, alluding to what snackers might like to do with Jews.

An abashed Edward Shnayder, owner of Net Cost, quickly withdrew the seeds from all its branches.

More..

Bosnich saves the day

By Simon Round, December 11, 2008

Twelve years ago, goalkeeper Mark Bosnich got himself into trouble after giving a mock Hitler salute when playing for Aston Villa at, of all clubs, Tottenham Hotspur.

Now his rehabilitation is complete after he coached at the Maccabi Futsal Club in his native Australia.

After teaching children at the club, Bosnich said he still regretted the mistake. “The thing was, my Auntie, who lives in Croatia, is Jewish.”

More..

PA pulls plug on Al Jazeera

By Simon Round, December 11, 2008

The mother of all broigeses has broken out between the Al Jazeera news channel and the Palestinian Authority.

Al Jazeera has been banned from the Mukata Presidential compound in Ramallah after the TV channel failed to carry a live broadcast of Palestinan Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. To compound the insult, Al Jazeera instead screened a live speech by the Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus.

More..

Interview: Francesca Simon

By Simon Round, December 11, 2008

Horrid Henry is a very naughty boy. He is nasty to his brother, he plays pranks on his teachers and he makes his parents absolutely miserable. Yet one cannot help feeling that his creator, children’s author Francesca Simon, is rather fond of him — and admires many of his qualities.

It is not just the fact that Horrid Henry has become a publishing phenomenon, selling 12 million copies in 27 countries, and has spawned a hit ITV series and now a West End play, Horrid Henry – Live and Horrid. It’s that Henry has what Simon calls a “life force”.

More..

The Anne Frank flat

By Simon Round, December 4, 2008

The prize for the tasteless Anne Frank promotion of the week goes to an Amsterdam accommodation agency, advertising its holiday apartments near Anne Frank’s house.

“Amsterdam Stay Apartments present the Anne Frank apartment,” announces the website. “Live like Anne Frank during your Amsterdam stay with keys to your own roof attic apartment.”

Living like Anne Frank eh? That means visitors will be locked into an overcrowded apartment with no privacy, restricted food and under constant fear of being betrayed to the Gestapo.

That sounds like a great holiday.

More..

Koran texts, via Israel

By Simon Round, December 4, 2008

Busy Muslims who are unable to fit in five prayers a day can now get a Koran text service — thanks to an Israeli company. Pelephone now offers users the chance to tap into verses from the Koran whenever they want for £1 a month.

What next? Old testament on demand for Jewish customers? Er, yes. Pelephone has been providing a Bible service since last year.

More..

Bush’s Chanucah mix-up

By Simon Round, December 4, 2008

The White House has got its seasonal holidays mixed up. Again.

More..

Interview: Houda Nonoo

By Simon Round, December 4, 2008

If there was a competition to find the most unusual job performed by a Jewish woman, Houda Ezra Nonoo would undoubtedly win. As Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States, Nonoo is currently the only Jewish female to be ambassador of an Arab Gulf state. In fact, she is the only Jew ever to be an ambassador of an Arab country. She says her mission is to promote a country of which she feels very proud. Such was the publicity engendered by her appointment that she could fairly have been said to have achieved her goal before she even started her new job in Washington DC in September.

More..

Maureen on Acid

By Simon Round, November 27, 2008

It has been a big week for confessions by Jewish women of a certain age. Both Maureen Lipman and Esther Rantzen divulged they had been a little wild way back in the '60s.

Lipman says she took LSD as well as cannabis.

"I took it once and rather unpredictably ended up with someone I shouldn't have," she told a Five documentary entitled Sex Drugs and Rock ‘n'Roll: The 60s revealed. However, Lipman was not a hardcore druggie . She admits she never "actually learnt to roll a joint. I guess it was that Jewish Princess stuff".

More..

Bah humbug

By Simon Round, November 27, 2008

On Monday's Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman interviewed a panel including JC columnist Daniel Finkelstein on the tax rejig. "This is a good Christmas to be Jewish," joked Finkelstein. And a good Chanucah to be Hindu.

More..

Yasmin’s false start

By Simon Round, November 27, 2008

Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown claimed last Monday that since Stephen Pollard has taken up editorship of the JC, the paper, which formerly expressed a range of views, "is turning hardline".

If true, this would be quite some achievement. Alibhai-Brown's claim about the new, hardline nature of the JC was published several hours before the new man even took charge.

And they say Jews are paranoid.

More..

Should they be c3n5oring number p1ate5?

By Simon Round, November 27, 2008

An MP has discovered that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is censoring number plates.
Among those which have been withheld are those approximating to the words Hizbollah (HE58OLA), Bus bomb (BU58OMB) and combinations resembling Jihad and Hamas. GA5OVN (gas oven) and GOO5TEP (goose step) have also been banned, as well as combinations of letters and numbers which hint at sex or alcohol.

More..

How bad will it get for homeowners?

By Simon Round, November 27, 2008

Eighteen months ago, amid the first whispers that property was heading for a downturn, the JC conducted a major survey on the state of the market. We asked finance experts, economist and property professionals where the market was going. The majority gave bland assurances that property values would remain stable or continue to rise. A couple said that there could be minor "corrections", but only three warned of the kind of crash we have experienced in the past 12 months.

More..

Spooks

By Simon Round, November 27, 2008

BBC1, Monday November 24

I always felt I had missed the boat with Spooks. The BBC is half-way through series seven and I had never watched a single episode.

More..

Anne Frank a soft target

By Simon Round, November 20, 2008

Alexander Furnishings in Wigmore Street in London's West End is currently stocking a range of cushions with black and white images of heroes, such as the Martin Luther King, Princess Diana, er, Tony Blair and... Anne Frank. Whatever next? Auschwitz prints for the living room wall?

More..

Obama’s Israeli cousins

By Simon Round, November 20, 2008

One group of Israelis is very happy with the victory of Barack Obama in the US presidential election - they believe they are related to him.

The Bedouin tribesmen of the northern village of Bir al-Maksour say they plan to travel to Washington to congratulate Obama personally.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Abdullah told Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot that Obama's Kenyan grandfather was married to one of the tribe's women. He said: "With us Bedouins, you know who you're related to, even after many generations."

More..

Can we copy? Yes we can

By Simon Round, November 20, 2008

Have you noticed the stunning similarity between America’s President-elect, Barack Obama and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu? Possibly not. However, if you check out the two politicians’ websites, you will find they are almost identical in appearance, with a blue background and spookily similar layout. Could it be that Obama’s team were so impressed with the veteran Israeli former prime minister’s website that they decided to copy it for their triumphant campaign? Or is it just possible that Netanyahu is hoping that some of the Obama sparkle might rub off on him?

More..

Another Jewish chief

By Simon Round, November 20, 2008

There has been a fair amount of consternation in the Muslim world over the appointment of a Jew, Rahm Emmanuel, as Barack Obama's Chief of Staff.

The fact that Emmanuel, who has dual Israeli-US citizenship, has made no secret of his support for Israel has worried many Arabs.

Strange therefore that there was not such a huge fuss when the current Chief of Staff, Joshua Bolten was appointed by George W Bush. Bolten is just as Jewish as Emmanuel. He even keeps kosher. We won't tell anyone if you don't.

More..

Oh Canada, proud land of processed cheese

By Simon Round, November 20, 2008

Mention Canada to British people and you will get one of two responses - either: "It's very cold there" or "Mmm, maple syrup". Despite the fact that winter temperatures can sink to minus 30°C and it is quite hard (and to be frank, pretty pointless) to avoid maple syrup in Canada, these reactions reflect quite badly on the British.

More..