Simon Round

How al Qaeda is imploding

By Simon Round, August 14, 2008

Analysis
Radio 4, Thursday August 8

The credit crunch is biting, fuel and food prices are sky-high, and recession seems just around the corner, so where is the good news? Well, the BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, came up with some strong evidence that Osama bin Laden's erstwhile colleagues in al Qaeda are attempting to undermine the organisation and causing it to lose support in the Islamist community. And news doesn't come much better than that.

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Jerry Springer: ‘I was a poor refugee’

By Simon Round, August 14, 2008

Jerry Springer was born in a London Tube station during a Nazi bombing raid. As a child he dreamt of driving the 102 around Finchley. That's until he moved to New York and became a talk-show celebrity


Hopefully, one day they will get around to putting up a blue plaque to mark Jerry Springer's place of birth. If they do, many JC readers might see it on their way to work because Springer, one of America's most famous faces, was born at East Finchley tube station in North London on a cold winter's night in 1944, during a Nazi bombing raid.

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The Olympics is the reality TV show of sport

By Simon Round, August 14, 2008

This week I've been thinking deeply about why I am unable to wrest my attention away from the Olympic Games for more than a few minutes at a time.

On the surface, there seems to be no particular reason. There isn't any cricket, the football tournament is a sideshow (there is no British team anyway), and the athletics, which I love, hasn't even started yet.

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Oops, left daughter behind

By Simon Round, August 7, 2008

We all know what it's like when you go on holiday - there's so much to take with you - passport, toothbrush, suncream etc - that it's easy to end up forgetting something. So let's lay off the poor parents who left their four-year-old daughter behind at Ben-Gurion Airport when they boarded a flight from Tel Aviv to Paris. After all, the unnamed Orthodox couple were late for their plane and in a terrible rush. They were carrying a large amount of luggage too - all of which they made sure accompanied the on board.

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Why eating outdoors is certainly no picnic

By Simon Round, August 7, 2008

There is much that is great about the English summer. You know the kind of things - long shadows cast by tall cricketers on endless summer evenings, the crack of leather on willow, strawberry sandwiches, cucumber and cream and the evocative sizzle of raindrops falling on a hot barbecue.

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Kabbalah, with free parking

By Simon Round, August 7, 2008

The Kabbalah Centre in midtown Manhattan is under attack - not for its religious practices but for its parking privileges. The centre, spiritual home of Madonna and other celebrities, has been issued 10 permits by the city authorities, which allows it to ignore restrictions outside its East 48th Street building.

Transportation Alternatives, a parking lobby group, has protested that the centre doesn't warrant special treatment, and most religious groups are usually allowed only one or two permits. But so far it has survived New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's crackdown.

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Coren still poles apart

By Simon Round, August 7, 2008

He's done it again. Last week, The Diary reported on how Giles Coren, The Times' restaurant critic and columnist, had annoyed Poles by accusing them of remaining in denial about their responsibility for the Holocaust.

In his latest column last Saturday, an unrepentant Coren responded to a critical letter from Polish ambassador Barbara Tuge-Erecinska by raising the Kielce pogrom of 1946, in which Polish Jews returning home after liberation from the camps were killed by Poles. That should keep the postman busy for another week.

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Knitters in a twist

By Simon Round, August 7, 2008

The American Anti Defamation League has got the needle over a recently published British knitting book which features an Adolf Hitler doll. The book, by Rachael Matthews, bizarrely includes instructions on knitting figures of historical dictators and has a picture of a Hitler doll adorning its cover. "It shows a profound failure by Ms Matthews to understand the horror of Hitler's Nazi machine," raged ADL national director Abraham H Foxman.

Well, it certainly seems a bit loopy.

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Jonathan Freedland: Why my alter-ego does fiction

By Simon Round, July 31, 2008

Sam Bourne, best-selling thriller writer, is in fact political journalist Jonathan Freedland. He tells us about his dual identity - and the relative freedom of novels

 

When you think of a thriller-writer called Sam Bourne, what image does the name conjure up? Perhaps a cross between Andy McNab and Frederick Forsyth, a hard-drinking ex-mercenary who has roughed it in equatorial Africa, maybe someone who is familiar with the sleazy backstreets of Moscow, London and New York.

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Summer time, and the living is uneasy

By Simon Round, July 31, 2008

Today marks the official opening of the silly season in the newspaper industry. There is no news and no one to report the news. As I look around the office, those of us still here are wearing Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses, the sounded of lilos being inflated is clearly audible, and the editor has a beach towel tucked under his arm as he heads off for his annual jaunt to Butlins.

This means that those left at the JC nerve centre in Central London have a challenging time finding stuff to report on while everyone else is lying by the pool.

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Obama is on message

By Simon Round, July 31, 2008

A yeshivah student has gone on television in Israel to confess to stealing the note written and placed in the Western wall by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The shamed student, identified only as Aleph, said on Israeli TV that he had passed the note over to the press. Aleph said: "I'm sorry. It was a kind of prank . I hope he wasn't hurt."

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Hacked off with Iranians

By Simon Round, July 31, 2008

They may not have their hands on nuclear weapons yet, but Iran is already at war with Israel - on the internet at least.

Hackers have made repeated efforts to block a message posted by senior American-Jewish figure Malcolm Hoenlein.

In it, Hoenlein tells the people of Iran: "We want to work with you. It is regrettable that you have a leadership that does not care about your welfare."

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Election coverage

By Simon Round, July 31, 2008

Republican and Democrat Jews can now wear their allegiance on their heads ahead of this year's presidential election with kippot from www.vanitykippah.com website

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Chinese say no to fishballs

By Simon Round, July 31, 2008

Last week we reported that due to government restrictions, kosher food could be thin on the ground come the start of the Olympics.

However, kosher athletes will have somewhere to go. Beijing's only kosher restaurant, Dini's, has stockpiled 7.5 tons of kosher beef and nine tons of chicken and plans to open 24 hours a day.

Chinese diners have been curious about the restaurant, and given their lack of squeamishness about eating any part of any animal, one would imagine they would be adventurous eaters.

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We invented the car bomb

By Simon Round, July 31, 2008

Car Bomb
Channel 4 Sunday, July 27

Car bombing has become synonymous with the Middle East in recent years, so few people would be surprised to realise that this most destructive and indiscriminate form of terror became established in this part of the world.

However, less well known is the fact that this was originally a Jewish weapon used against the Arabs.

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The His and Hers guide to the species

By Simon Round, July 24, 2008
When I was a child in the 1970s the established wisdom was that girls and boys may have looked different on the outside but were exactly the same inside their heads.

Put a boy in pink and give him a Barbie and he would most likely end up playing with dolls' houses and applying mascara. Dress a girl in blue and give her an Action Man figure and she would end up demanding Panini football stickers for her birthday.

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Theo’s car quip backfires

By Simon Round, July 24, 2008

Dragon’s Den judge Theo Paphitis is in hot water with viewers over a remark made on Sunday’s edition of Top Gear on BBC1.

The corporation has  received several complaints over Paphitis’s remark that fellow Dragon Peter Jones’s beige-coloured car was “Jewish racing gold”.

A Board of Deputies spokesman said: “The phrase ‘Jewish racing gold’ is known to us as a colloquial reference to a type of colour for a car; a phrase that has unfortunately leaked into mainstream usage.

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Party leaders’ lunch date

By Simon Round, July 24, 2008

It is not often that you get Gordon Brown and David Cameron to agree on anything, but both felt they wanted to mark an important milestone for the Jewish community. In 1858, Lionel de Rothschild became the first Jewish MP, and 150 years later representatives of all the main parties attended a lunch last Thursday at the House of Lords to mark the anniversary.

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No kosher chinese in Beijing

By Simon Round, July 24, 2008
It's not just the Tibetans who have issues with the upcoming Beijing Olympics - so do the Jews in the Chinese capital, who are finding it harder and harder to purchase kosher food in the run-up to the games.

Due to severe restrictions imposed in advance of the Olympics next month, shipments of kosher produce have been delayed, while individuals attempting to bring in supplies risk having their food confiscated. A Beijing rabbi says: "There is a severe shortage of kosher food due to the new restrictions which are expected to last until the games are over."

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Daniel Levy v Sir Alex Ferguson

By Simon Round, July 24, 2008

Tottenham Hotspur's Jewish chairman Daniel Levy is broiges with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson over his pursuit of Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov.

Sir Alex has been attempting to lure Berbatov him to Old Trafford. An enraged Levy has retorted by calling the United boss "arrogant and hypocritical". Sir Alex is considering taking legal actions over the remark.
Levy is clearly in broiges mode this week. He has also reported Liverpool to the Premier League over their approach for striker Robbie Keane.

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