Simon Round

Dawkins shops for atheism

By Simon Round, May 23, 2008

Author Richard Dawkins, who has become the patron saint of atheists since his book The God Delusion was published, has revealed that he bid for a letter by Albert Einstein in which the latter described Judaism as “childish superstition”.

Dawkins could not match the £170,000 the letter fetched at auction in London last week. Maybe there is a God after all.

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How Michael Jackson’s rabbi moved on to Oprah

By Simon Round, May 23, 2008

Minister Shmuley Boteach left Britain nine years ago amid controversy. He talks about embracing fame, TV Judaism and his London appointment with a leading evangelical

Shmuley Boteach is struggling with his chicken kebab. He is sitting outside Reuben’s restaurant in Central London, on a flying visit to Britain — his first in over two years. Such is the velocity of his answers that the special of the day remains largely untouched on his plate. In the short breaks in conversation, he launches into his food like a man possessed, but to no great avail.

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A family reunion you’ll relate to

By Simon Round, May 23, 2008

True Stories: The Reunion
More4, Tuesday, May 20

As Tolstoy might well have written, had he thought of it, families everywhere are all very different — but family reunions are all pretty much the same.

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She forgave a terrorist

By Simon Round, May 16, 2008

Storyville: My Israel
BBC4, Wednesday, May 14

Storyville: Flipping Out — Israel’s Drug Generation

BBC4, Thursday, May 15

BBC4’s Storyville strand celebrated Israel’ s 60th birthday with a season of films analysing different aspects of Israeli life.

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Help! It's the corpsemites

By Simon Round, May 16, 2008

Here’s one more thing to worry about. Richard Morgan’s new fantasy novel, The Steel Remains, features hideous monsters called corpsemites who attack the book’s hero Ringil. The monsters’ position on Jews is not made clear — after all, you don’t meet many Jewish characters in the sword-and-sorcery genre — but the name doesn’t suggest anything good.

And it certainly has the bloggers exercised. One post on the punkadiddle website points out that the presence of the corpsemites “wouldn’t endear the book to the Jewish Chronicle”.

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Israelis in happiness shock

By Simon Round, May 16, 2008

Israel is the world’s happiest country — official. Or maybe should that be semi-official.

The Thai-based English language newspaper, the Asia Times, ran a column this week claiming that Israelis love life and hate death more than any other nation.

The evidence for this comes not from interviews with Israelis, which would no doubt produce evidence to the contrary, but rather by plotting the fertility rate versus the suicide rate of 35 industrialised countries. Israel stands alone in loving life and hating death.

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Sir Alan is our number one

By Simon Round, May 16, 2008

The JC’s Power 100 of the most influential Jews in the country has sparked off plenty of debate in the media — mainly about how we could have possibly have fired (or rather failed to hire) Sir Alan Sugar.

For the record, Sir Alan — who is certainly Jewish and influential — did not make the list because, according to one of the judges, Ben Rich, although he is a generous philanthropist for Jewish causes, “he does not pursue a specific agenda”.

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Petrol prices bring out the Masai warrior in me

By Simon Round, May 16, 2008

Last weekend I pulled into the garage forecourt and filled up my car with petrol. This is usually a fairly unmemorable activity and would have been this time had I not looked at the amount the garage was charging me for my fuel. I’m not going to tell you exactly how much I paid but I can divulge that both of my children have now been enrolled in chimney-sweep school to help with the bills.

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IDF shoots itself in foot

By Simon Round, May 9, 2008

The IDF went on the counter-attack after a family of five was killed in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, posting video footage on the internet to show they were not killed by Israeli gunfire as alleged. But attempts by newspapers to spread the word ended with the IDF shooting itself in the foot. It referred requests for pictures to a Jerusalem studio — which offered to release them... for a “handling charge”. Hasbara, anyone?

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Shimon Peres in fancy dress

By Simon Round, May 9, 2008

It has often been said that Israeli President Shimon Peres likes to get close to the ladies — well, now he will get his chance to get very close indeed. Israeli fashion designer Galit Levi has come up with a dress printed with the face of Peres and several of his predecessors to celebrate the 60th anniversary of independence. Let’s hope that whoever wears it looks more alluring than some of the rather serious-looking elderly men featured on it.

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Subsistence farming, North Circular-style

By Simon Round, May 9, 2008

A genius thought occurred to me a few months ago (actually it occurred to my wife, but seeing as I am the columnist, we will pretend it occurred to me).

I (unlike my children ) like vegetables. Also I have quite a large garden which is home only to a few daffodils, a tulip or two and quite a large number of squirrels.

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Jenny retires - on us

By Simon Round, May 9, 2008

Who says that you cannot make a fortune as an employee of a public corporation?

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Maybe time for a truce, Jeremy

By Simon Round, May 9, 2008

The Birth of Israel
BBC2, Sunday May 4

The juxtaposition of the words Jeremy Bowen and Israel often causes the paranoia centre in the Zionist brain to go into overdrive. Bowen has, in the past, been seen as unfairly critical of Israeli policies. So, his hour-long special on events leading to the formation of Israel was always going to be analysed forensically for signs of bias.

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Sir Alan would fire them

By Simon Round, May 9, 2008

Writers at The Daily Record in Glasgow slightly misunderstood our Sir Alan Sugar story last week.

Sir Alan told the JC that he was tempted to make a k’nackers special, to pit all those “know-it-all” critics in the media against his apprentices in the sure knowledge that the actual apprentices would win.

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Fritzl? Jewish? Surely not

By Simon Round, May 2, 2008

Of all the horrifying things about the discovery of the basement in Austria in which Eliza Fritzel was held captive since she was 18 by her father Josef, one of the spookiest is the photo of the bedroom in which she was imprisoned.

There, just visible on the wall tiles, are three Stars of David. You don’t think there is any chance he is, do you?

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Dance of the snappers

By Simon Round, May 2, 2008

Wolfgang Leander swims with sharks — to photograph them. He’s not crazy, he tells us

In recent years, thousands of people have taken the opportunity to swim with dolphins. Far fewer have been overtaken by the urge to swim with sharks. Wolfgang Leander is one of those who has.

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How Britain helped forge Israel

By Simon Round, May 2, 2008

British Jews and the Dream of Zion
Radio 4, Monday April 28

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of Israel, here was a programme which told the story of the involvement of British Jews, and indeed non-Jews, in the foundation of the Jewish state.

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Matzah do about matzah

By Simon Round, May 2, 2008

It’s a problem that crops up at this time every year— what to do with all the matzah left over from Passover. A video posted on YouTube addresses this exact question. Called the Matzah Song, it gives 20 alternative uses for surplus unleavened bread: “Catch it like a frisbee with your friends in the park, or you could jump in the water and pretend you’re a shark. You can use it as a coaster when you’re drinking beer, or throw it as confetti for a happy new year.” Composers Michelle Citrin and William Levin even suggest — wait for it — eating it.

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Hurray, it's a recession - let the bad times roll

By Simon Round, May 2, 2008

Over the past seven years or so I have become quite a big fan of my local paper. In fact, reading it has become an essential part of my weekend morning routine — along with screaming at the children not to jump from the coffee table on to the sofa, retrieving half-eaten jam sandwiches from behind cushions and emptying the potty.

My devotion to the Enfield Advertiser has nothing to do with the quality of the journalism, though if you enjoy a good story about recycling-bin thefts and library relocation sub-committee meetings, then I can thoroughly recommend it.

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Follow those cab drivers

By Simon Round, May 2, 2008

Researchers at University College London are trying to hail taxi drivers. It’s not that they are attempting to beat the rush hour — it’s the drivers they want rather than the cabs.

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