Simon Round

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 8, 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 8, 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 8, 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 8, 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 8, 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 8, 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 1, 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 1, 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 1, 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 1, 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 1, 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 1, 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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Yentob's expensive account

By Simon Round, April 24, 2008

The great thing about the BBC is that because we effectively pay their salaries, staff members have to tell us what their itemised expenses are. This is how we know that Alan Yentob, whose basic salary at the BBC is £300,000 a year, has claimed more than £27,000 over the past three years, including £120 for a cake. According to The Daily Telegraph, he also claimed £1,500 for a Christmas lunch for colleagues, despite being a nice Jewish boy, and mysteriously claimed £743 for “discussions”. Who said talk was cheap? Clearly not Yentob, who also claimed 24p for a single phone call.

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When we were street fighters

By Simon Round, April 24, 2008

A Rage In Dalston
Radio 4, April 19

It is a shame that the majority of British Jewry did not have the chance to hear this radio show about the little-known 43 Groupers who fought Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists following the Second World War — as it was broadcast on Seder night.

But if you managed to catch A Rage in Dalston on BBCi, you would have heard about the clashes between the Jewish ex-servicemen and -women and the far-right movement, on the streets of East London.

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Forget Ken, Boris and Brian — vote for me

By Simon Round, April 24, 2008

This time next week, we will know whether Ken or Boris or perhaps even Brian is the new mayor of London. I have to confess the prospect does not excite me. Ken’s voice is too nasal for my liking, Boris’s hair is quite frankly a mess, and as for Brian — well call me prejudiced, but I don’t think a city the size of London should have a mayor named Brian.

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On a wing and a prayer

By Simon Round, April 24, 2008

A passenger was thrown off an aircraft last week — for davening. The man, a strictly Orthodox Jew, went to the back of a United Airlines jet to pray shortly before take-off from New York’s Kennedy Airport. However, the plane was unable to take off for San Francisco while the man was unseated. Three flight attendants were unable to persuade him to interrupt his ma’ariv prayers — the man’s friends attempted to explain to them that, as Magnus Magnusson would have put it, once he had started he had to finish.

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Pesach - for men only

By Simon Round, April 24, 2008

In order to stem the tide of alienated men leaving Judaism, the Reform movement in America has come up with a wizard wheeze — the male-only haggadah.

Rabbis Dan Moskovitz and Perry Netter have adapted the Exodus story to make religion more relevant to modern men’s lives. So, the 10 plagues now include prostate cancer, hair loss, weight gain and impotence, and the four questions are given a gender twist, for instance: “Why is it that, no matter how old I get, I don’t understand women?”

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Heard the one about...?

By Simon Round, April 17, 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?

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