Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Josef Schusters wichtigste Aufgabe

On Sunday, the Central Council of Jews in Germany elected Josef Schuster as its new president.

Will he, like his predecessors, consider that acting as a sort of Israel spokesman comes with the job? Should it really be up to the Central Council of Jews to be a warning beacon against antisemitism? 

The German daily, Süddeutsche Zeitung, has published my welcome words, Josef Schusters wichtigste Aufgabe, as an op-ed in yesterday’s edition.

Here it is

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Don’t be Chickenshits

As part of its continuous, concerted and successful action-plan to hold onto the Occupied Territories, Israel is cold bloodedly taking advantage of today’s murderous attack by two Arabs from East Jerusalem, to slander the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. 

Netanyahu: “the terrorists’ act was a direct result of incitement led by Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and irresponsibly ignored by the international community…”

Economy Minister Bennet: "Abbas, one of the biggest terrorists to have arisen from the Palestinian people, bears direct responsibility for the Jewish blood spilt … while we were busy with delusions about the [peace] process."

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz "The hands that held the axes were those of the terrorists, but the voice is that of Abbas." And Foreign Minister Lieberman called on the international community to condemn Abbas' "anti-Semitic statements, which lead to terrible acts of slaughter like the one at the synagogue this morning."

Netanyahu and his senior ministers are lying. More than that, with their inciting defamatory statements, Netanyahu and his cabinet are igniting the fire or at least adding fuel to it. Here is what the head of  the shin bet, Israel’s internal security service, Yoram Cohen, said today: "Abbas is not interested in terror and is not inciting to terror. He's not even doing so behind closed doors." Moreover, Cohen laid the blame for the rising tensions in Jerusalem on visits by right-wing Israeli members of parliament to the Temple Mount and their attempts to introduce legislation, which would change the status quo on the holy site.

A few weeks ago The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has condemned as “disgraceful” a description of Netanyahu, as “chickenshit”, attributed to an unnamed US official. Netanyahu may now be a certified “non- chickenshit” but he should probably not risk asking for a similar certificate to prove that he is not a defaming, inciting liar. It is up to the US and the EU not to be chickenshits and to finally read Israel the riot act.  

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Cameron – King of Losers ?

Loser – according to one of the dictionaries is slang for: “a misfit, especially someone who has never or seldom been successful at a job, personal relationship, etc.” There is something unattractively condescending in the use of this term. Indeed, one of the dictionaries defines loser as “a person who one feels is below one's social stature.”

So here I go: David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is rapidly becoming the king of losers. Instead of approaching UKIP and the supporters of this “UK Independence Party” head on, Cameron tries to convince that group of losers that he and his Tory party will deliver even more effective anti-Europe, anti-Foreigners, anti-Immigration, anti-Aid results, than UKIP will.

As a real loser, the spoilt brat Cameron succumbs to pathetic macho talk and irresponsible brinkmanship. Instead of trying to out-ukip UKIP, the Tories and Labour too, must stand up against the frightened “let’s draw the bridge up” rhetoric of UKIP with both values and facts. 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Go to Rembrandt

There is a wonderful, truly wonderful Rembrandt exhibition at the National Gallery in London. Go!

Many exhibitions are just marketing ploys and I did not expect much. Anyway, has one not seen them all? The exhibition concentrates on Rembrandt’s late works and does include some of the well-known paintings. But, it also has some lesser-known and truly beautiful and some very interesting paintings. 

It was a true joy to see so many of them together. This cannot be said about the visitors that crowd exhibitions. As I was queuing to get in with the first group at 10 in the morning, a VIP group of Royal Bank of Scotland guests was just leaving. Seeing the VIPs coming out with their goody-bags was not made easier by one of the very important females smiling benevolently at us, the group of plebeians standing in the rain waiting to be let in, with the remark "you are up for a real treat."

So what is the Deal? 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Not memorable: Germany exhibition at the British Museum

There are better ways to spend ten pounds and an hour of your time than to go to the Germany: memories of a nation - A 600-year history in objects  exhibition at the British Museum. You do not learn more than you would by reading the relevant article in Wikipedia and that is not good enough.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Money Weighing Machines – Beware!

I was standing in line at an HSBC branch, as the man in front of me wrote out and cashed a cheque for £2,500. The cashier took a pack of £50 notes, put them on a money-weighing machine, told the customer that the amount was right and asked him whether he also wanted them manually counted. Yes, was the customer’s response.

And… surprise, surprise… it was £500 short.

There was a short apology by the cashier, who added that this had never happened before.

SO: are these money-weighing machines unreliable or was it a case of an unreliable cashier? Neither alternative is very attractive.


A few days ago, I arranged to meet a friend at Sotheby’s, where they seemed to have a preview for a coming contemporary art auction.

Two items in the hall, in which I was waiting, caught my attention:

The first item was indeed included in the auction at £150,000 - £200,000, whilst the second item… was taken away by the cleaner, just as I took the photo.

Not only, because I do not have a five year old son, I don’t normally go for the “my five year old son could have painted that”, when I see some high-priced squiggle by an artist who happens to be in. However, these obsolete plane noses, could just as well have been donated by the aircraft manufacturer to a children’s’ playground. Instead, they are now ART. 

And just in case we don't appreciate it, we are informed that "this work is unique":

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

British Parliament recognises Palestine

1. Congratulations to the British parliament for voting (274 against 12) in favour of a motion recognising a Palestinian State. The debate – as parliamentary debates often go – was not very impressive, the outcome, however, is positive.

The motion is not binding on the British government and may therefore just be symbolic  - but symbolic acts, with the right luck, can be powerful too.

2. Shame on the Israeli Labour Party that tried to use its – evidently non-existent – influence over members of the British Labour party in a last minute hysterical attempt to block the vote. Leading the opposition means not acting like a government poodle. Try to remember that Mr. Herzog!


At a reception, a few days ago, a younger friend – doubtlessly trying to be kind – introduced me to a senior banker and his wife and said “David is a real intellectual.”  And the result ... during the ensuing conversation, the banker’s wife asked me , “David, so you don’t do anything?” 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Are they crazy... or is there a Conspiracy?

These days when we learn that the United States Secret Service seems to almost offer President Obama up for target practice – I cannot be the only one thinking of the many times we have all been put through absurd as well as unfriendly “security” when entering the USA. They are spending billions for the security of the President alone and yet it seems very easy to get to him. 

Combining arrogance with inefficiency is always bad and can be deadly.

Time after time one is surprised by the enormity of American inefficiency. We tend to think of Silicon Valley – who may not be that efficient either – and make assumptions about the rest of America. Let us not forget what a disastrous, badly prepared, carried out and mismanaged war the US has led in Iraq. And not for lack of funds…