Simon Round

Sugar cures antisemitism

By Simon Round, October 17, 2008

The cure for antisemitism has been discovered - it is sugar. According to a new study, sugar helps give the brain the fuel needed to suppress prejudiced opinions.

In the study, a group of students were given lemonade - half were given the sugary variety and the other half drank lemonade sweetened artificially.

They were then told to write an essay about the day of a gay man called Sammy. Those who drank the sugary lemonade were less likely to use gay stereotypes - possibly because the higher glucose levels made them more reasonable.

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The comedy crunch is no laughing matter

By Simon Round, October 17, 2008

The world's financial systems are spiralling towards oblivion, the dark clouds of world economic recession are gathering over us. Suddenly our homes and jobs look insecure and the future is uncertain and worrying. But of course, in any crisis, some people suffer more than others. And no one (with the possible exception of investors in Icelandic banks and newly impoverished pensioners) have fared worse than we humorous columnists.

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Cosmo Landesman

By Simon Round, October 17, 2008

If there was ever a competition to find the world's most embarrassing parents, Cosmo Landesman would be in with a real chance.

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The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall

By Simon Round, October 17, 2008

Channel 4, Monday October 13

On April 11, 2003, Thomas Hurndall, a 21-year-old student photographer and peace activist was shot in the head and killed in the Gaza town of Rafah, near the border with Egypt. The man who pulled the trigger was Sergeant Taysir Hayb, an IDF sniper. Hayb was sentenced to eleven-and-a-half years for the manslaughter of Hurndall.

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Schlep for Barack

By Simon Round, October 16, 2008

As you might have read in the foreign pages last week, The Great Schlep has become part of the US election.

Ari Wallach, the movement's founder, wants young Jews to fly to Florida to persuade their conservative grandparents to vote for Obama. He has persuaded comedienne Sarah Silverman to post a video on YouTube urging young Jews to join the campaign.

Well, the Republicans are fighting back. Jackie Mason has now posted a video urging Florida's Jews to back McCain.

It could come down to hanging chads again.

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Er, Spurs have no Jewish fans

By Simon Round, October 10, 2008

Spurs supporters, many of whom call themselves "The Yids", were instructed by their own website not to attempt to bring any Stars of David to the game the Wisla Krakow Uefa Cup tie, so as not to "make a political statement". A significant section of the Polish team's support is notorious for antisemitic chants.

So in effect, Spurs fans were told not to make the antisemites angry. Wasn't that tried in the 1930s?

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Hurndall drama turn-off

By Simon Round, October 10, 2008

We at the Diary enjoy a conspiracy theory as much as the next column, and therefore are always on the lookout for television programmes with Jewish content programmed for times when Jews cannot watch.
The latest example is The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall - a drama based on the shooting of the British peace activist by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip five years ago.

The film will be shown next Monday evening, when religious Jews will be observing Succot and therefore cannot watch television.

Coincidence? The truth is out there.

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A Religious wave in LA

By Simon Round, October 10, 2008

They do enjoy unusual blessings in California. Recently the JC reported on the gay San Francisco shul which had come up with a brachah for "unexpected sex".

Meanwhile, down in LA there is a different preoccupation - the surf. A rabbi was among several religious leaders who turned up to "bless the waves".

Explained Carol Weinfeld of Temple Beth David: "Some people pray in forests and others by a calm cool lake."

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So, Israel will eat Iran

By Simon Round, October 10, 2008

Here's a contender for the best newspaper correction of the year.

Israeli daily Ha'aretz explained that, in its interview with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the minister intended to say that Israel would "hit Iran" before it obtained a nuclear bomb, and not "eat Iran" as published in the newspaper. The transcript of the interview, which was conducted in English, was approved by the minister's aides before publication.

Ha'aretz said it regretted the misunderstanding.

It all leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

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Credit crunch to water crunch

By Simon Round, October 10, 2008

The American Future: A History, by Simon Schama
BBC Two, Friday October 10, 9pm

Irrigation Age sounds like one of the guest publications lampooned every week on Have I Got News to You.

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Interview: Harry Shearer

By Simon Round, October 10, 2008

He's the satirist who helped create spoof rock group Spinal Tap and who provides voices in The Simpsons. Now he's expressing his contempt for George Bush... in song.


Sometimes in showbusiness, an opportunity presents itself which is too good to turn down - a project whose potential is so obvious that everyone instinctively knows that it will succeed spectacularly.

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It is time for a novice, so vote for me

By Simon Round, October 8, 2008

For the past three weeks we have watched political conference after political conference. First Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats, then Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown and finally Conservative leader David Cameron (who surely must be related to Clegg, right?) have set forth their visions for the country.

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‘Awan’ Yentob will be angry

By Simon Round, October 3, 2008

The Diary predicts that heads may soon be rolling at the Radio Times.

The creative director at the BBC, Alan Yentob, is one of the corporation's very top men, who may not be amused to see that the listing for his Imagine programme shown on September 27, has him listed as "Awan Yentob".

There is however, a remote possibility that, as Yentob is of Iraqi-Jewish descent, he may have reverted to the Middle Eastern version of his name.

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Bridge makes people cross

By Simon Round, October 3, 2008

The new Calatravva Bridge in Jerusalem has been controversial since its inception - the main sticking point being whether is should have been built, given its high cost.

However, a new problem has cropped up. Some residents have complained that residents in certain areas near the bridge claim it is possible to look up the skirts of women (and Scottish people) crossing the bridge. This has caused consternation, given the religious traffic in Jerusalem.

Could this now be the world's first bridge with a mechitzah?

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I’m over Thunderbirds. Bring on Fireman Sam.

By Simon Round, October 3, 2008

It was a Sunday afternoon. I had been involved in intensive childcare since early morning. I was very tired. My three-year-old son, Alex, on the other hand, was not tired at all. He was practising his latest trick of climbing on top of the sofa and jumping on to my head. It hurt quite a bit and there was some dribble involved too. I am trying to stop, though.

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Life’s a family affair for Sacks

By Simon Round, October 3, 2008

Faith in the Family

BBC1, Monday September 29

We all know that Rosh Hashanah is about family. It's the festival when you get to spend quality arguing time with those nearest to you and catch up with all the relatives you have spent the previous 12 months avoiding. Well that is the Jewish stereotype of this time of year.

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IDF is watching Big brother

By Simon Round, October 2, 2008

Big Brother has finally hit Israel, along with all the normal controversy which comes with the programme.
However, there is one group which is particularly uneasy about the content of the programme - Israel's military censors. They have already warned the producers that the participants have to stop talking about their military service, for fear that secrets may inadvertently be revealed on live TV.

Production company Keshet attracted complaints from viewers concerned about loose talk which the IDF decided could cost lives.

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Nippers back Barack

By Simon Round, October 2, 2008

If Barack Obama sweeps to victory in the US presidential elections next month, it may be partly due to his secret weapon - Jewish grandchildren.

One of the more weirdly named support groups for the Democrat nominee for the top job is "Jewish Grandchildren for Obama", which was set up, according to its blurb, to "help educate older generations of Jewish voters about why Obama is the best choice - domestically and internationally".

But why stop there? We could have Jewish nieces for McCain and perhaps even Jewish kilt-wearers for Brown.

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Yep, he achieved world peace

By Simon Round, September 26, 2008

Storyville: Day After Peace
BBC4, Saturday September 20

Ten years ago, documentary film maker Jeremy Gilley had what he thought was a fantastic idea. How about a World Peace Day; 24 hourswhen hostilities would cease around the globe?

He was prepared to give his all to achieve what he knew was an ambitious plan. He fully realised that the guns were unlikely to go quiet for 24 hours everywhere but reckoned that if this campaign could save a single life, it would have been worthwhile.

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Tim Walker and ‘ethics’ at the Telegraph

By Simon Round, September 26, 2008

Here is a question for Telegraph editor Will Lewis. What does it say about your diarist Tim Walker's professional standards that, once again, we find his column printing original JC material unattributed, as if it were his own? The latest example has Walker quoting Lord Levy as saying that David Miliband "doesn't have the gravitas or the stature to be a great leader of the Labour Party. But talk to me in 10 years' time...", and so on.

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