Simon Rocker

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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Revealed: MI5's Jewish terrorism fear

By Simon Rocker, October 8, 2009

MI5 for many years avoided recruiting Jews as spies out of concern about their potential loyalty to Israel, according to a new book published this week.

Its policy stemmed from the years of Israel’s struggle for independence when the security services feared terrorist attacks on Britain by militant Zionist groups.

The revelation comes in The Defence of the Realm, an authorised history of M15 based on its archives, by Chistopher Andrew.

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Eastenders’ taste of Israel

By Simon Rocker, October 8, 2009

The boycott campaign has not reached Albert Square, I am happy to say. In Monday’s episode of EastEnders, character Sam Mitchell could be seen – at least by Hebrew-reading viewers – helping herself to a glass of Israeli orange juice.

(The BBC refused us use of a picture but you can catch it on iPlayer).

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Kindly adjust your wigs

By Simon Rocker, October 8, 2009

London QC Dinah Rose entered the annals last Thursday as the first barrister in England to be televised in action in court. A snatch of her address at the first sitting of the new Supreme Court, which happened to be about the costs of the JFS admissions row, was broadcast by Sky News.

In summer she successfully put the case against JFS at the Court of Appeal, but now Lord Pannick will hope to reverse his defeat there when the Supreme Court hears JFS’s appeal in two weeks. The hearing could be screened — a must for our legal friends, if not exactly Rumpole of the Bailey.

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Sephardi head hosts Spanish envoy

By Simon Rocker, October 8, 2009

A reception in honour of Spanish Ambassador Carles Casajuana was hosted by the spiritual head of London’s Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, Rabbi Abraham Levy.

Envoys from Spain are traditionally invited to visit the community in recognition of its historic links with the country, Rabbi Levy explained.

Mr Casajuana said that Jewish culture formed “a very important component” of Spanish heritage and culture.

Guests included Dame Gail and Gerald Ronson — or “Don Geraldo” as Rabbi Levy dubbed him.

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JFS: Supreme Court grants legal aid

By Simon Rocker, October 2, 2009

In its first ever judgment, Britain’s new Supreme Court has said that legal aid must continue to be available in the dispute over entry to JFS.

Until now, the Legal Services Commission has funded the father of the boy whose rejection by the school two years ago prompted the legal action.

But the LSC did not want to be liable for paying the costs of JFS and its foundation body, the United Synagogue, in the event that the father lost when the case comes to the Supreme Court later this month.

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Court denies release of BBC Middle East report

By Simon Rocker, October 2, 2009

The High Court today dealt a significant blow to a five-year-old campaign to force the BBC to publish a report into its Middle East coverage.

London solicitor Steven Sugar has battled since January 2005 for the release of the so-called Balen report, compiled in 2004, under the Freedom of Information Act.

His efforts have led to several legal hearings, even reaching the House of Lords earlier this year.

But in a judgment released today, Mr Justice Irwin said that the Balen report was exempt from disclosure because it dealt with journalism.

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Heads upset as JFS rejects their pupils

By Simon Rocker, October 1, 2009

Jewish primary school heads have voiced dismay that their pupils are not been given priority at JFS.

Vivienne Orloff, head of the Michael Sobell Sinai School, a United Synagogue primary which lies next door to JFS in Kenton, said it was “ridiculous” that children from Jewish primaries did not get preference. “It’s heartbreaking when you have the school on your doorstep. We want all our children to continue their education and what’s important is that the parents want them to.”

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Raptorex Kriegsteini: the first Jewish dinosaur

By Simon Rocker, October 1, 2009

Many may be happy to be memorialised on a park bench plaque or a piece of synagogue curtain but Cecile and Roman Kriegstein of Palm Beach, Florida enjoy a more exotic tribute.

Their name has been given to a newly discovered species of dinosaur.

The University of Chicago bestowed the honour after being presented with the fossil by their son Henry, an eye surgeon and keen natural historian, who bought the remains from a dealer. His parents, both in their 80s and supporters of Yad Vashem, came from Poland and met in Germany after the war.

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