Simon Round

Heard the one about...?

By Simon Round, April 18, 2008

Did you hear the one about the Israeli comedian?

The answer is probably not. We have all got our favourite Israeli writers, our favourite Israeli politicians, and even our favourite Israeli spoonbenders.

But Israeli stand-ups? Possibly the nearest many of us have come to Israeli humour is comedian Mark Maier’s comic alter ego, Roni Shmoni. When two English girls ask the fictional Israeli soldier for directions to the beach, he replies: “So you want to sleep with me?” (or words to that effect). We find it easy to laugh at Israelis; but can they laugh at themselves?

More..

Nostalgia for the Entebbe raid

By Simon Round, April 18, 2008

Age of Terror: Terror International
BBC2, April 15

For any government wishing to rescue hostages, the operation on Entebbe remains the gold standard. It spawned four star-studded feature films and dozens of documentaries. Indeed the survivors have spent most of the 30 years since the operation being interviewed; as this documentary demonstrated, the news footage from those eight days in June 1976 have been played so much that it is beginning to wear out.

More..

I eschew routine - every day, at the same time

By Simon Round, April 18, 2008

When I was at school I had a friend who used to dread Monday nights. That is because his mum always made egg and chips on a Monday. She was a poor cook and he didn’t like eggs much anyway.

It always used to amuse me that he knew exactly what meal he was going to get on any particular night (Tuesday was lamb chops, Wednesday was Shepherd’s pie, can’t remember Thursday but Friday was challah followed by roast chicken, obviously).

More..

A sink full of kosher plates

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

There are several theories as to what the the staff on the Titanic were doing as the ship sank (rearranging the deckchairs seems to be the most popular one). However, here is a new one — they were making kosher food for the ship’s Jewish passengers. Forty-four Jews went down with the ship, and their descendents may find some consolation in the fact that at least they were able to eat kosher food served on top-class crockery right up to the end. The White Star Line of Liverpool had plates for kosher food specially made with a black rim, marked in Hebrew for meat or for dairy.

More..

Writing a column? It’s a walk in the park

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

Occasionally, when I’m seeking inspiration for a column, I go for a walk. For some reason I find it easier to come up with ideas when I am moving. This is sometimes disconcerting for colleagues who think I am merely wandering aimlessly about the office, occasionally tripping over waste-paper baskets and exposed wires. So, for their benefit, I have taken to walking outside.

More..

Think yourself happy

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

Nutrition expert Dr Michael Sharon says he has discovered the secret of happiness.

Michael Sharon is a happy man. He is not happy just because he is financially well off, although he is. He is not happy just because he has a loving relationship with his partner, although he has one. And although he is happy that his new book is being published, his happiness in not just about that.

More..

The judge who finds ministers guilty

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

Since retiring as Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf has become one of the government’s fiercest critics, accusing it of bungling the fight against crime It is hard to tell when Lord Woolf is angry.

 

He has a kindly face and generally displays a half-smile even when talking about the most serious issues. However, it is fair to say that the former Lord Chief Justice is, at the very least, dissatisfied with the government.

More..

Moses almost played God

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

Actor Charlton Heston, who died this week, did not boast any Jewish ancestry, but this did not put off the Hollywood studio chiefs who kept casting him in Jewish roles.


More..

Dam! It’s those Jews again

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

“India launches water aggression in collaboration with Jewish lobby” runs the headline on a story on the Pakistani Online International News website. The site reports how the chairman of the Indus River Water Council, Hafiz Zahoor ul Hassan Dahir, has warned that India has been building dams which will enable the country to stop the flow of rivers into Pakistan at will. But as for the contribution of the Jewish lobby to the problems of water flow between India and Pakistan…? Answers on a postcard please.

More..

The Anti-Defamation League v The World Evangelical Council

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

The World Evangelical Council took an advert in the New York Times reaffirming the Jews’ need to accept Jesus. This irritated Abraham Foxman, the chairman of the Jewish lobby group, the Anti-Defamation League, who labelled the targeting of Jews for conversion as “offensive and insulting”. This one could run and run. (In fact it has in one form or another for 2000 years).

More..

Lunch with the man who ate the world

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

Food critic Jay Rayner dined at the best restaurants in five continents. It was in Russia that Jay Rayner came face to face with his Jewish food heritage in the most bizarre and surreal fashion.

Rayner was sitting in the Sirena, one of Moscow’s top and over-the-top restaurants. It is, says Rayner, a strange place to eat. The floors are made of glass, there are sturgeon and carp swimming beneath the feet of the oligarchs perusing the menu.

More..

My father, the cheating rabbi

By Simon Round, April 11, 2008

Saturday Live
Radio 4, Saturday, April 5

There is often a moment as the clock radio clicks onto the Today programme in the morning when the news somehow fuses with your dreams to conjure a strange vision. You know the kind of things — James Naughtie interviewing Gordon Brown as he strums a mandolin aboard an ocean-going liner and The Rev Ian Paisley sitting in the bath eating pink cup cakes.

More..

The judge who finds ministers guilty

By Simon Round, April 10, 2008

Since retiring as Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf has become one of the government’s fiercest critics, accusing it of bungling the fight against crime

More..

German Jews v The Pope

By Simon Round, April 4, 2008

Pope Benedict may enjoy kosher sweets, but Jews in Germany are not so keen on him. They are angry over the Pope’s decision to use a rare Latin prayer on Good Friday urging Jews to convert to Catholicism.

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Charlotte Knobloch, has decided to sever relations with the Catholic Church in protest. She said: “As long as Pope Benedict does not return to the previous wording, I assume there will not be any further dialogue…”

The Vatican is keeping shtum.

More..

Are parking wardens an instrument of God?

By Simon Round, April 4, 2008

It’s funny how some trivial things can be much more annoying than quite serious things. For example, a few months ago I got a very nasty vomiting bug, as did my two-year-old son Alex, which meant that for one complete night I was either throwing up or clearing up sick.

More..

Pontiff takes the biscuit

By Simon Round, April 4, 2008

He may be the head of the Catholic Church, but Pope Benedict XVI has a haimishe taste in confectionery. The Pontiff developed a liking for kosher cakes when his doctors stopped at the Boccione bakery in Rome for a pastry, and introduced His Holiness to their products. Says the bakery’s owner, Wilma Limenati, who received a thank-you letter from the Vatican: “I guess he enjoyed the biscotti and ‘Jewish pizza’ [an almond and raisin confection].”

She added: “I think the Pope has looked forward to the doctor’s visits ever since.”

More..

Eliat inspires a rain song

By Simon Round, April 4, 2008

If you assumed that the miserablist Travis anthem Why Does it Always Rain on Me? referred to a particularly soggy winter’s afternoon in the band’s native city of Glasgow, think again.


According to a piece on Israel Army Radio, the song was written in Eilat, when the singer, Fran Healy, was on holiday there and was caught in a heavy downpour.

Rain in Eilat? In the words of another band, Crowded House, he must have brought the weather with him.

More..

Moses didn't take tablets

By Simon Round, April 4, 2008

Benny Shanon, the Israeli academic who suggested that Moses may well have been in a state recognisable to Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty when he was receiving the 10 Commandments on Sinai, now claims that he was misquoted by the newspapers.

He writes in The Guardian that he never used the words “drug” or “trip or “high” or “stoned”, but rather claimed that Moses might have consumed a psychoactive plant which could have affected the experience for him, much as the Amazonian drug ayahuasca did to Shanon while in South America.

More..

Discover your inner German

By Simon Round, April 4, 2008

A press release from the German Tourist Board invites us not only to sample the delights of Germany, but also to “discover your inner German”. We wonder just how many JC readers will be following the board’s advice this summer?

More..

How hummus got political

By Simon Round, April 4, 2008

Cooking in the Danger Zone
BBC2 Sunday March 30

Is there anything that does not cause conflict in the Middle East? As if Israel and the Palestinians did not have enough things to argue about, what with borders and security fences and intifadas, they still find time to argue about who has ownership of the national dish.

In the final episode of the fascinating Cooking in the Danger Zone, presenter Stefan Gates travelled to Israel and the West Bank to investigate the foodie side of the political issues.

More..