Five for Friday

Cottage in Peaslake in all its purple finery - May 2016

Cottage in Peaslake in all its purple finery – May 2016

Whatever happens with the referendum in Britain, the event itself has dominated the week. I’m glad I didn’t vote, and also glad it will be easy for me to ignore the inevitable deluge of media coverage trying to analyze why Britain got it wrong or right (depending on your perspective) and the political blame game that is sure to follow. It almost makes the Israeli political scene attractive!

Apart from the referendum, for me the week has been a fairly routine one, though Susan and I did manage a terrific ride on our bikes out to the Tel Aviv namal and back. We started later, because of the heat, and worked hard during the ride, returning as the night descended. We put our newly acquired bike lights to good use. Previously, we had some cheap kit that was unreliable, and generally poor. On our last trip to the UK, we took the opportunity of picking up some expensive, but high quality, bike lights. And they made a difference. Part of the ride was along the beach top at Herzliya, and that is a pretty scary riding surface in the pitch black.

There was also an innovation event at work, which was a break from the routine, and was interesting in parts. It was a little ironical that a program intended to encourage out of the box thinking, started with an exercise about breaking into a box!

The weekend is here. Enjoy it. Here are the regular weekly selection of links that may – or may not – help:

Shabbat Shalom!


Bad news at the Independent

On June 16 2016, the excellent UK Media Watch reported as follows:

The latest smear against Israel in the British media involves a distortion used repeatedly by mainstream media outlets, NGOs and pro-Palestinian propagandists: the charge that Israel cruelly uses water as a weapon against innocent Palestinian civilians, cruelly denying the population an adequate supply.

The particular (well deserved) target of their attention was a dreadful dose of demonization  at the Independent‘s website by Peter Yeung, accusing Israel of cutting the water supply to the Palestinians for Ramadan. This, despite the fact that the opposite was true, and had been shown as such to the Independent. The details are here.

On 17 June 2016, UK Media Watch followed up its earlier report by revealing something very interesting: in response to some of the criticism of his article, Peter Yeung sent a tweet as follows.

“The allegation still stands. It was never reported as fact.”

That’s a breathtakingly stupid explanation, if you ask me. Talk about failing to take responsibility!

As UK media Watch pointed out:

It’s the responsibility of professional journalists (and their editors) to determine if allegations have merit, not merely to parrot baseless charges and malevolent smears.

And they have lodged a complaint.

Meantime, I wonder if there is an explanation for this shocking state of affairs. I am a subscriber to the print edition of Private Eye magazine. The issue number 1420 (10 June – 23 June 2016) has just reached me, and look what I saw on page 9:


Perhaps the real reason for that daft piece, and the even more daft excuse for not sorting it, can be found in the Private Eye piece:

  • Did Mr Yeung file the offending piece in the hope it was a scoop?
  • Was Mr Yeung following established practice?
  • Was Mr Yeung discouraged from checking any facts?
  • Or, did Mr Yeung have a query about the article, once the storm of criticism started, but never got the go ahead from his manager to spend money on a legal query?

It is possible he did check with Foot Antsey. That excuse is exactly the type of thing some inexperienced junior legal trainee might have come up with – and it at least would have the merit of being cheap advice!

But, for sure, if the Private Eye article is correct, it scarcely seems that the Independent has any chance of being the home of serious journalism. So UK Media Watch is on target here, and will probably find its sights back on that website sooner rather than later.




On the table, Red Poppies Campaigns: The battles for Ypres by John Gorkowski, and published by Compass Games. It’s World War 1 combat at the tactical scale – units are companies, and hexes are 200 yards across. There are four scenarios – really learning material – with the meat in the campaigns covering 3-6 days of battle in campaigns of 1914, 1915, and 1917 around Ypres.

One standout for now is that there are three maps, all covering the same area, but each representing the changes – trench lines, for example – for each of these three years.

The system uses a mix of mechanics – with a heavy emphasis on mode (formed or dispersed) and cohesion checks (roll too high and die) – to seem to give an authentic feel for the period, and the challenges of such warfare.

I hope to post more after I have spend some serious time playing the game, but first impressions are very favorable.


Five for Friday

The minyan in the car park, before the Jerusalem biking event. I love it!

The minyan in the car park, before the Jerusalem biking event (May 2016). I love it!

We started with Shavuoth, and we finish back in some kind of routine. Please can we have more routine? Work is a bit hectic just now, so the weekend is very welcome. Here are the regular weekly selection of links:


This week, why not take time out to check out Fathom? Issue 13 is just out, and there’s a ton of interesting articles as they look at four questions key to understanding the impasse in the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Lots to chew over.

Shabbat Shalom!


Biking catchup


On 20 May 2016, Susan and I took part in the Jerusalem biking event. Thousands of people of all ages and sizes joined in the fun. There were multiple distances, and we opted for the 40 km route because we though the 50 km would be too long for us, and the 40 km matched our training route length (from the house to Tel Aviv namal). This was the third time I had taken part, and Susan’s second. Shosh couldn’t be there this year, but we are hoping next year we will all be back together again. Both Susan and I managed much improved performances, making the complete run with no stops, and in much faster time. To say that we were flying high afterwards would be a bit of an understatement! The highlight of the biking year.

The next week we flew to the UK, and managed two Sunday morning sessions of mountain biking at Peaslake. It’s a rural area south of London, with one village shop, and one bike shop for rentals, essential purchases, and so on. The first Sunday we went with Richard, and the second with Liam. We rode the routes Yoghurt Pots, Telegraph Line, and Barry Knows Best, all of which reminded Susan and I of our Glentress riding experiences. The setting was exquisite, and the riding was fun. There are many other routes there and thereabouts. Highly recommended. But Glentress is still tops.

Now we are back home, I have managed one run out to the namal, and we both did a crappy spin class. It’s a bit tricky because of the heat, but hopefully over the next few weeks and months we will get some more biking in before the wedding. (And that’s all I am going to mention about the wedding for now.)


Typo of the week

From the Ynet article about Fox Sports journalist Emily Austen, who was fired from her job as a sideline reporter last weekend after telling some stories – including one about “stingy Jews” – to Barstool Sports:

The writer [Austen], who covered the Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Rays, finally added her anti-Semitic comments about “stingy Jews,” saying “I just didn’t care about the way I spoke to Jews in Boca (Raton, Florida),” she said, describing her time as a waitress.

“They would complain about everything. I gave one guy a bear, and he complained that there was too much head on it. I knew that he was crazy stingy, and that he wouldn’t leave me a tip,” she said.

I’m not quite sure what I would do if a waiter gave me a bear, with or without a head…

The whole piece is here.


UNHRC calling?

From the Jerusalem Post article about the address by Eviatar Manor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, speaking to the Human Rights Council on day two of its 32nd session:

In a short, but highly charged speech he accused the UNHRC of overly focusing on Israel’s actions against the Palestinians at the expense of other more serious human rights situations in the Middle East.

“Politicized debates, biased resolutions, preposterous reports, discriminatory conduct and unfounded accusations characterize the attitude of this Council and of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights towards Israel,” Manor said.

The Israeli Ambassador took particular issue with a UNHRC mandate that alleged Israeli human rights violations must be addressed at every session under Agenda Item 7. Israel is the only country that is singled out in this way. All other human rights issues around the world are addressed under Agenda Item 4.

“This Council’s priorities are wide off the mark,” said Manor.

How is it, that it has “an agenda item specifically dedicated to my country when the tragedies of Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, to name but a few, are unfolding and producing a tsunami of refugees about to engulf Europe?” Manor said.

“And you expect us to take you seriously?,” he asked.

On target!

Note the cracking sting in the tail:

He ended with a few lines of attack against the council charging that it “has never cared for the human rights of Israelis.”

Manor further charged that the UNHRC “needs a moral compass” and that it “does not and will not contribute to peace in our region.”

He urged the UNHRC members to weigh his words.

“Think about it, and call me if you change your minds. You can find me at +972 -77-430-4703,” Manor said.

UNHRC calling? I doubt it.

Read it all here.


Five for Friday

Tel Aviv skyline in reflection - March 2010

Tel Aviv skyline in reflection – March 2010

It’ may seem difficult to avoid the feeling that the dreadful terror attack in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night threatens to overwhelm the ordinary day-to-day joy of life in Israel. Difficult, but not impossible. Difficult, but the people of Israel have done it before, and may have to do it again. So we defeat the terror by going on with our lives as normal, and the terrorists can go to hell. We fight the good fight, peacefully. And we celebrate Shabbat (and on Saturday evening we will celebrate Shavuoth) and birthdays, and anniversaries, and births, and weddings, and engagements, and whatever. We always have done, and we always will.  And, all the time, we keep a small silent space in our hearts (and our collective memory) for the victims and their loved ones. May they be spared sorrow for many years to come.

I didn’t enjoy writing that paragraph. Reading it was no less painful. But it had to be done before I would be able to return to the regular beat. And that means, the regular weekly selection of links. Here they are:


This is one of my favorite youtube videos, and a cracking Shabbat melody to enjoy. Have a good one.

Shabbat Shalom!



Blogging has been light because I was away abroad (Glasgow and London) for a couple of weeks. We were catching up with family who are unable to travel to the wedding, did a cemetery visit, and some shopping. OK, a lot of shopping. Basically, having lost a lot of weight, I had a whole wardrobe of clothes that were way too big for me. So, some local charities benefited from the clear out, and some UK shops benefited from the restock. We also did some great biking. I will try and do a separate post about that over the next wee while. Thanks to Richard & Sarah for hospitality and more. And thanks to Susan for organizing a great trip, and being such a patient clothes counselor.

Meantime, it’s good to be back HOME, and in something of a routine.