Simon Rocker

Goldstone: I believed it would be good for Israel

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

Q: Did you anticipate the strength of reaction to the report from Israel and the Jewish world?

A: I obviously expected criticism from all sides in consequence of the Report. I did not anticipate the depth of venom and ad hominem attacks and especially not from Israeli leaders, from whom I expected better. I expected that the substance of the allegations in the report would be the subject of their concern rather than [an attempt] to deflect attention from them by making unwarranted personal attacks on me.

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Goldstone: I was not a traitor to Israel

By Simon Rocker and Anshel Pfeffer, October 22, 2009

Judge Richard Goldstone, author of a controversial United Nations report highly critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza, has defended his role in an interview with the JC.

The South African jurist said he was “a traditional Zionist” who found it hard to understand the suggestion that he had betrayed Israel by agreeing to lead the inquiry. “On the contrary, I believed that what I agreed to do would be in the interests of Israel and the region,” he said.

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Israel film venture has royal opening

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

Prince Edward was guest of honour at the London launch of a project to encourage teenage film-makers in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Rwanda.

Films Without Borders, the brainchild of TV producer Jill Samuels, will work in partnership with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Foundation.

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Miliband and the mensch

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

Put David Miliband in a roomful of a Jewish leaders and you would expect the odd sharp word to fly.

Less than a month ago he uncanned the worms by suggesting that the Conservatives had got into bed in Europe with little better than the Polish and Latvian equivalents of the BNP. Cue outraged Tories, whispers of protest from the Board of Deputies, more outraged Tories, and members of the Jewish Leadership Council upset with the Board for upsetting the Conservatives.

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Mary, Mary, very contrary

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

Here’s why the London Review of Books, house mag of left-leaning literati, has little good to say of Israel. Its Jewish editor Mary-Kay Wilmers told the Sunday Times: “I’m unambiguously hostile to Israel because it’s a mendacious state. They do things that are just so immoral and counterproductive and, as a Jew, especially as a Jew, you can’t justify that.”

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No Shnapps for shnips

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

Knesset member Yariv Levin’s proposal to slap a ban on alcohol for minors has not gone down well with Lubavitch, who have never seen a problem with a l’chaim or two.

A Lubavitch website recently reassured youngsters going on shidduch dates that it was fine to enjoy a drink in a general bar – as long as they avoided slices of lemon or lime because they are cut by a non-kosher knife.

Bang go the G&Ts, then.

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Madoff's inside circle

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

He may have had to ditch his yachts and luxury homes but at least Bernie Madoff has some interesting prison company. The billionaire fraudster is, according to US legal papers, hobnobbing inside with ex-Mafioso Carmine Persico and Jonathan Pollard, the naval analyst convicted of spying for Israel.

They certainly have time to get to know each other. Persico and Pollard are doing life, while Madoff has another 149 years to go.

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The debacle at Bevis Marks

By Simon Rocker, October 20, 2009

To anyone who’s followed recent events at the Bevis Marks Synagogue, the departure of Rabbi Natan Asmoucha will come as no surprise. Suspended for almost three months, he spared himself further disciplinary action by reaching a settlement with the leaders of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation.
But since the agreement will be wrapped up in a confidentiality clause, we are now unlikely to hear from the mahamad (executive) of the S and P why they acted as they did.

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Harold Evans slams Goldstone Report

By Simon Rocker, October 20, 2009

One of Britain’s most distinguished journalists has launched a fierce attack on the United Nations inquiry into the Gaza conflict headed by Judge Richard Goldstone.

Sir Harold Evans, editor of The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981, said in today’s Guardian that the judge had been “suckered into lending his good name to a half-baked report…

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Miliband's dinner date with Jewish leaders

By Simon Rocker, October 19, 2009

Foreign Secretary David Miliband is due to attend a dinner tonight to honour Henry Grunwald, who retired as president of the Board of Deputies and chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council in the spring.

Leading figures in British Jewry will gather at the event at a top London hotel.

It will be Mr Miliband’s first appearance at a Jewish function since he sparked controversy with his attack earlier this month on some of the Conservative party’s East European allies for alleged far-right links.

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The J Factor

By Simon Rocker, October 19, 2009

Should the selection process for the next Chief Rabbi include having to give a sermon in front of a studio audience?

Simon

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Bevis Marks chiefs to face down rebels

By Simon Rocker, October 15, 2009

Supporters of the suspended rabbi of Bevis Marks Synagogue in east London are set for a showdown with Sephardi leaders at a special meeting next Thursday.

More than 40 members of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation have backed a motion of no confidence in the mahamad, the executive committee of the congregation.

But the mahamad has tabled its own motion, calling for support among the wider membership, and saying that any embarrassment to the congregation is because of “irresponsible comments” to the media from some Bevis Marks members.

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Kaminski: Jewish leaders feud

By Simon Rocker, October 15, 2009

Anglo-Jewry’s leaders this week mounted a damage limitation exercise in an attempt to quell internal rows over the Board of Deputies’ political competence.

Several members of the Jewish Leadership Council were enraged to discover that the Board’s president, Vivian Wineman, had written to Conservative leader David Cameron in the middle of last week’s Tory conference raising queries over the party’s European allies.

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No, it can't be you, Bob

By Simon Rocker, October 15, 2009

At first, I thought I had been the victim of an elaborate hoax, and I still hope I might be, but it’s all turning out to be horribly true.

This week it was announced that Bob Dylan is releasing a Christmas album, Christmas in the Heart. It’s all in a noble cause – the proceeds are going to feed the hungry in the USA and beyond.

But after hearing a YouTube preview featuring the great bard croak his way through such seasonal favourites as Here Comes Santa Claus, Winter Wonderland and Come All Ye Faithful,

I concluded I’d rather stick my head in a bowl of calf’s foot jelly.

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Put a lid on yid, please

By Simon Rocker, October 15, 2009

Saturday’s Telegraph Review chose David Schneider’s Radio Four programme on Yiddish as its radio pick of the day for yesterday. Interviewees included former American Secretary of State Colin Powell who, the magazine informed us, “unexpectedly learned the rudiments of the language while working as a teenager in a Yid-owned toyshop in New York”.

Yid-owned? I know the Telegraph is not exactly a friend of political correctness but...

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Room for a schmooze

By Simon Rocker, October 15, 2009

EasyJet clearly want Jewish customers to feel at home on their new flights to Israel next month. Not only will kosher sandwiches be on offer but they will be using wider-aisled planes which will give passengers room to squeeze past the hostess’s trolley in order to pursue their social rounds.

One easyJet official wondered whether there is some religious requirement to spend half the flight out of your seat.

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The Urban spaceman

By Simon Rocker, October 15, 2009

Media pundits believe that Sir Jeremy Isaacs’s old seat at Channel Four could be filled by UKTV boss David Abraham.

But never mind the programmes, what would he do with the station’s Horseferry Road headquarters should he become chief exec? While at St Luke’s, the ad agency he co-founded, he was once asked about his offices by a potential client. “We don’t have offices,” was his reply, “we have space.”

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You’ve got a pick a berachah or two

By Simon Rocker, October 12, 2009

Ron Moody, the most famous stage Fagin of them all, was back at the head of a group of singing children at the weekend. No, he wasn’t rehearsing a new batch of artful dodgers for Oliver. A member of the New North London Synagogue, the veteran actor was given the honour of the special aliyah at Simchat Torah when the children are called up.

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Solicitor vows to continue BBC Middle East bias battle

By Simon Rocker, October 8, 2009

London solicitor Steven Sugar, despite a legal setback, has vowed to continue his five-year-long campaign to force the BBC to release the Balen Report on its Middle East coverage.

In the High Court last week, Mr Justice Irwin ruled that the BBC was exempt from having to disclose the report under the Freedom of Information Act.

But Mr Sugar said: “Obviously I’m disappointed but we are contemplating an appeal to the Court of Appeal and it is likely that we will do so.”

He added that he was determined to fight for the principle of public accessibility to BBC material.

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Equality watchdog in JFS fight

By Simon Rocker, October 8, 2009

Britain’s equality watchdog has entered the legal battle over the admissions policy of Jewish schools.

The Supreme Court this week granted the Equalities and Human Rights Commission the right to be an intervener in the forthcoming appeal case, which will enable it to make submissions to the court.

JFS, the country’s largest Jewish school, is trying to reverse a decision by the Court of Appeal in June that it is unlawful to offer places on the basis of whether a child’s parent is Jewish.

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