Showing posts from June, 2015

Government Organized Philanthropy

"The community didn't have to spend a penny, the whole building program was paid by the German Government!"

This was how a local answered my question "but who paid for all this?!", when I was in Munich this week.

I was hugely impressed by the grand style three new buildings which constitute the center for the Jewish community there.

A stupendous and magnificent synagogue; a sizable Jewish museum; and a community center complex which houses a classy (and only) kosher restaurant, a school, and a comprehensive community administration (employing 120 people). The whole three-building facility is built with security in mind and there is a 24/7 security & access control, bullet-proof glass, etc.

With a weekly shul attendance which struggles for a quorum/minyan, and is mainly reliant on passers-through (like me), it was hard to understand how this whole project was financed. We are talking around $150m: according to a Washington Post report the shul cost $72m; Wi…

Shmuel from Hungary in Munich

Each time I travel, I ask myself whether or not to openly wear my kippa. 
As antisemitism is on the rise in Europe, many advise not openly wearing a kippa for safety purposes.
Almost without exception, I do wear my kippa abroad. And, thank G-d, I have never had an unpleasant experience.
On the contrary, all sorts of people approach me, because they see I am Jewish.
I am currently in Munich (a short ride from Dachau...).
As I arrived, and am making my way into town, a guy starts shouting at me "I love Jews!". And "I hate the bloody German Nazis!".
I approached the man and struck up a conversation with him.
Why does he love the Jews? Because he is from Hungary and he was a child in the Jewish neighborhood. Although a gentile, his mother called him Shmuel.
Why does he hate the Germans? Because, being called Shmuel, he is often the victim of anti-semitism in his adopted home in Germany. 
He produced a kippa from his pocket, and posed for my photo, before heading on hi…

Two Court Victories for Far Right Groups

Hilltop youth is the term generally used to describe the movement of far right wing national religious youngsters (usually teenagers) who settle new hilltops or 'outposts' in Judea and Samaria.

This group regularly comes into conflict with the law - indeed, it is almost part of their dogma. These settlements which they create are deemed illegal by Israel's Government.

Another linked group are Temple Mount activists. These are people who are trying to raise awareness among Jews of the practical importance of Temple Mount and to increase Jewish presence there.

There were two legal victories reported (on YNet and Makor Rishon) for these groups in recent days.

Around a dozen hill-top youth have been charged in court on various occasions of breaking into a military no-go-zone. Of particular note is Ramat Migron, a satellite settlement to the somewhat larger Migron, which itself was forcefully moved by the Government a few hundred metres from its location in Samaria.

In order t…

Hakol Haba - Shmuel Perednik...

My very talented nephew Shmuel Perednik did fantastically in the Hakol Haba talent show.


BDS'ing in Ireland

Ami exposes the BS in BDS.

Now Revealed - The Jewish Students' Plot in Newcastle

Israel's leadership has spotlighted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) - with particular emphasis on the statements of the Stephane Richard, CEO of Orange telecomes giant in France, and of the British Studets Union, which has signed up for BDS.

Stephane Richard immediately apologised and retracted for his call to cut ties with Israel.

The British Government condemned the Nation Union of Students's (NUS) decision to boycott Israel.

Indeed, in my experience from three decades ago, when I was a student at Newcastle University, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to NUS's toxic attitude to Israel.

In the 1980's, when I was head of the tiny Newcastle University Jewish Society (JSOC), we faced daily verbal and political attacks by the Newcastle University's Student's Union (NUSU) upon our group.

There were regular motions in the SU debating chamber condemning Israel for the latest "masacres" of Palestinians, and decl…

UnKosher Restaurant Caught by QR Code

My wife and I recently visited Haifa and decided to get a bite to eat at the local shopping mall...

Of the modest range of restaurnts in the food hall about three or four were "kosher".

We decied to go to the falafal store, which had large signs saying "kosher" and "Kosher under the Supervision of the Haifa Rabbinate".

As we took our first bites from the falafal, my wif asked me if I had checked the kosher certificate.

Although I recalled having checked the other restaurants, I was uncertain about whether I'd checked this one...

I put my falafal (which was rather good) down and asked a staff member whether they had a kosher certificate. "Sure!" they replied, and directed me to a certifcate on their wall.

Indeed, the cerificate was from the Haifa Rabbinate and it included a QR digital barcode for verification purposes.

According to the instructions on the certificate, one needs to download the Baduk App to check the QR code.

Feeling like a …

Erdogan Humbled

Yesterday's dramatic election in Turkey brought surprising results.

Although Turkey's most powerful politician Tayyip Erodogan, President of Turkey, was not standing, he was clearly the central player in that election.

Turkey's President is not elected by popular vote, and so Erdogan was not a candidate or even party leader.

Erdogan's party, AKP, is led by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğşlu.

However, Erdogan set some very high bars for his party in the election - which AKP failed to jump over.

Whereas AKP achieved (again) being the largest party with a respectable 41% vote (Netanyahu could only dream of such a victory for Likud..), Erdogan had set an ambitious target of achieving a two thirds majority in parliament. Such a majority would have given the AKP the ability to change the country's Constitution, and invest substantially increased power in the Presidential (ie Erdogan's) position.

In light of this ambition, the election result are a blow to Erdogan'…