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Archive for March, 2009

Not In My Name: A Compendium Of Modern Hypocrisy is published in paperback this week. Here are some of the reviews from when it was published in hardback last summer:

notinmynamepb8‘A spirited attack’ – Nick Cohen, The Observer

‘Waspish and witty’ – Daily Mail

‘Privileged celebs get a vicious tongue-lashing’ – The Sun

‘Absolutely brilliant – this is a fabulous, clear-eyed book that will frequently make you laugh out loud’ – Jewish Chronicle

‘Burchill and Newkey-Burden are spot on’ – Gay Times

‘They write like Old Testament prophets’ – Church Times

‘At their entertaining best they skewer the worst sort of leftist poseurs’ – Arena

‘A majestic piece of work’ – Sunday Mercury

‘Piercing intelligence’ – Royal Borough Observer

‘Enjoyable…everything from anal sex to Israel and Amy Winehouse”‘ – Australian Literary Review

‘A feverish anthology’ – Word magazine

I was particularly pleased with the Jewish Chronicle review, and its praise for my Israel essay: ‘Where has Newkey-Burden been all my life? He’s every bit as entertaining as Burchill. His essay on Israel haters made me ache with gratitude. I had tears streaming down my face as I turned the pages. Because he’s right, of course.’

You can read that review in full here.

This is a great story from Ben Caspit and Ilan Kfir’s interesting book Netanyahu: The Road To Power, which was published in 1998. It is from when Benjamin Netanyahu worked at the Israeli embassy in Washington and involves his then personal driver, Moshe Hanini.

bibf3Netanyahu, as usual, was late for an urgent meeting. Though his tardiness did  not usually bother him, this time he told Hanini to step on the gas. Hanini obeyed. Unfortunately, they were caught in a speed trap and pulled off the road by Washington policemen.

The cops asked Netanyahu and Hanini to get out of the car. They saw at once that the driver was carrying a concealed gun. Hanini showed them his permit to carry it. The police, however objected to the fact that the gun was concealed, and, permit notwithstanding, they promptly handcuffed Hanini.

“Bibi, what are we going to do?” the frightened Hanini asked. “Don’t worry, I’ll drive myself to the meeting,” Bibi replied. Hanini, in shock, watched his boss get into the car and drive off.

Hanini was taken to the police station. Netanyahu forgot all about the incident and did not bother to report to anyone at the embassy that his driver had been arrested.

Netanyahu returned to the embassy in the evening, still without having reported the incident. Late that night, one of the security guards asked Netanyahu where Hanini was. Bibi raised his head from some papers and murmured: “Ah, Hanini, there was some problem this morning. I think he was arrested, or something.”

Oh, Bibi!


Can you guess who the highlighted boy is in the photograph below? (If you click on the photo you can make it bigger.)

So who is he? Clue, he’s got a big week ahead of him…

…when you can have four?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my next four releases, all published next month:

Amy Winehouse: The Biography (updated paperback)

Alexandra Burke: Hallelujah, A Star Is Born

The Dog Directory

Not In My Name: A Compendium Of Modern Hypocrisy (paperback)

Phew…

This is an interesting video from 1978 of a 28-year-old Benjamin Netanyahu (then known as Benjamin Nitay because Netanyahu sounded too much like a native American name for US circles) speaking during a televised debate in America.

His words are prescient. He says that a Palestinian state would become a terrorist state that threatened Israel. Fast forward to the 21st century. Israel withdraws from Gaza, Hamas takeover and bombard southern Israel with rockets.

As he says of the Palestinian aims: “What were are talking about here is not the attempt to build a state, but to destroy one.”

(Looking good, Bibi!)

I went on  a long run early this morning. After months of running in the freezing cold, today’s 13 miles breezed past blissfully.

It brought to mind this passage from the fantastic book I’m currently reading: The Light And Fire Of The Baal Shem Tov:

When dawn came, the skies were clear, the trees gave off their fragrance and the earth emitted its own pleasing odor. It seemed as if the whole creation was praying: the birds were chirping overhead, the frogs were croaking in the ponds, the rooster was crowing in the yard, the water was muttering its soft gurgle, and the forest making its gentle murmur.

Johann Hari is one of the first to leap on reports from some IDF soldiers about Operation Cast Lead. He doesn’t let facts get in the way of a good Israel-bashing session.

For instance, in this short article alone:

* He says Operation Cast Lead “killed 1,434 Palestinians”. Not true – closer to half that number.

* He writes about “the 2007 war in Lebanon”. It was in 2006.

* He mentions “all sorts of people who cannot run away: the elderly, the disabled, the pregnant, the terrified”. As a journalist of his standing should know, Israel’s enemies routinely use just such people as booby-traps and suicide bombers but he doesn’t mention that. It’s easy to condemn the IDF from the safety of your London office, I wonder what decisions Hari would make in such circumstances.

* “This is not a few bad apples,” he writes, lending the report far more authority and scope than it warrants.

His article is titled “Dupes? No, were were telling the truth.” Oh the irony.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the negotiations. Whatever realm he currently exists in. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gilad Shalit and his family.

gilad1

Quick reminder that I am on The Biography Channel tonight (Sunday) at 9pm, talking about Amy Winehouse. You can see a clip here. The show is repeated endlessly, starting tomorrow at 9am and 3pm.

amy

jwordI bought a new novel called The J Word when I was at Jewish Book Week. I hadn’t heard of it and I only bought it because it had such a lovely cover. Well, sometimes you can judge a book by its cover because The J Word turned out to be the most fantastic novel I’ve read for many, many a year and I strongly recommend it.

It’s tricky to do full justice to it here without ruining the twists and turns of the plot. However, I can say that it focuses on the relationship between 80-year-old Jack who rejects his Jewishness and his 10-year-old grandson Danny who is curious about his heritage. When Jack is attacked by an antisemitic gang, everything changes and you can find out how by reading it.

My only criticism of The J Word is that it ends. When I got to the end I turned back to page one and read it again. It was just as good second time round. I am planning to run regular Q&A interviews with interesting people here on Oy Va Goy. I’m delighted to say that the first interesting person is author of The J Word, Andrew Sanger.

What were your literary influences when you wrote The J Word? I sensed a dash of Howard Jacobson in there…
I am not a very ‘literary’ person, don’t read all that much and have no particular fondness for modern fiction. I like delicate, skilful use of language, and writers who deal lovingly with ordinary people and ordinary places. Arnold Bennett and John Galsworthy are among my favourite authors, and I have the greatest admiration for Robert Louis Stevenson, especially his travel writing. Absolutely no Howard Jacobson, not even a dash!

Is there such a thing as a ‘Jewish novel’? If so, what is it?
No, there isn’t. Certainly there are novels with Jewish characters, or about Jewish life, or that strike a chord with Jewish readers. But good fiction is always about the human condition.

The characters in The J Word are all fantastic. Naturally, Oy Va Goy was quite a fan of the hardcore duo: Yoav and Ehud. Which character do you personally feel closest to?
Oddly, while writing the book I felt that I myself was all of the characters! That probably doesn’t make any sense and is hard to explain. Of course, the key people in the story are Jack and Danny – the old man rejecting his Jewishness and the young boy keen to embrace it. I identify closely with both of them.

It makes perfect sense and I think many readers will feel the same. The J Word was your debut novel yet top novelists would kill to be able to tell such a serious story with such warmth and optimism. Is a sequel out of the question?
I do think that the best way to get a serious point across is simply to tell a gripping story, and I suppose I rather like the feelgood approach. But despite the ‘warmth and optimism’, I don’t pretend that insoluble problems can be solved or that the world will become a different place. I am deep into another novel now. There are Jewish characters and it too is set in Golders Green, but it is not a sequel to The J-Word.

I understand you have been placed on the Boycott Israel list as an author whose books must be boycotted. I’m furiously jealous. How did you manage that?
As a volunteer in Israel, I was sent to an army base outside Tel Aviv, where I packed emergency kits for IDF field medics and also boxed-up medical aid that Israel sends to other countries. I wrote about the experience for The Independent (of all things!) – after which I received a ton of hate mail and threats of violence and was placed on the Boycott Israel list! Doesn’t seem to have affected sales.

You can buy The J Word, by Andrew Sanger, here.

© Copyright Chas Newkey-Burden. All Rights Reserved. Thanks to Chris Morris.