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Twenty Fifteen already


The events which took place in France were horrendous and outrageous. Human diversity of mind is something to be celebrated, above all by people who purport to be religious and who believe in a benevolent Creator. May the memory of all the victims of last week – cartoonists, Jewish hostages, police officers and others – be a blessing and a call to tolerance, righteousness and justice in the world.

But despite the sadness of this month, a happy new year one and all, and without further chronological ado, let us proceed with the blog…

Taxing times

Last week, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs held its annual ‘in which we try to get some good publicity’ event by releasing a Buzzfeed-style list of the top 10 most hilarious excuses for late tax payments. These included the terribly amusing




But strictly speaking, of course, and in the playful spirit tax bosses seem to have adopted for their new year’s press release, they could have done a list of the most hilarious excuses for HMRC cock-ups, such as…



So easy to do…

Blood, toil, tears and sweat: my time at UJS Conference

In December I was semi-privileged to be chairing the annual conference of the national Union of Jewish Students as someone well-known as impartial and unopinionated.

Towards the end of the day we were all semi-privileged to be addressed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who rather unashamedly played to the gallery in his speech outlining how boycotts of Israel are nothing but “a smokescreen for the oldest hatred”, anti-Semitism. Because he was speaking to an audience of students, he even included a pun on the word ‘w*nker’ just to show how down with the kids he was.

sajid javid churchillHowever unimpressed I was though, clearly our speaker took the rest of humanity by storm, because according to the Jewish Chronicle, the speech by Sajid Javid (pictured)

…has been generally agreed to be the best speech from a British political figure in years!

Wow! The best British political speech in years! Eat your heart out, Tony Blair-with-the-hand-of-history-on-your-shoulder. Move along, Winston. Enoch Powell is so last century.

Because it is “generally agreed” (the identity of this generality was left unspecified in the JC) that Sajid Javid’s speech entitled ‘Never have so many votes been owed by so few to me’, was the best.

And because I was lucky enough to be present for it and want to share my experience, please find below Winston Churchill’s rendering of Sajid’s great oration:

Oh, and…

And on that note, let’s move on.

On Her Majesty’s (former) Service

An Indian civil servant has been sacked from their job with the Central Public Works Department for failing to turn up to work for 25 years. Apparently there was an initial investigation into their absence in 1992 but the report recommending his dismissal only recently reached a minister for signature.

from the desk of sir georgeOur special Gabrielquotes correspondent could, of course, think of only one person whose opinion on the Indian Civil Service was worth asking. So allow us to hand over to a man (is ‘man’ an adequate title for such a timeless phenomenon?) who was Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal under the Empress Victoria, hero of the 1873 Pabna peasant uprisings and colonial administrator extraordinaire… the one and the only Sir George Campbell!


Harping on

harper_logo-with-text-high-res[1]Everyone’s favourite Murdoch-owned publishing house, HarperCollins, has been in trouble this week for publishing a map of the Middle East that doesn’t feature Israel, on the grounds that it satisfies “local preferences” in Arab countries.

This isn’t the only allowance that HarperCollins have made to suit the tastes of its audiences, however. Some of their other publications include:

  • For the Conservative Party, How Criminals Are the Only People to Benefit From Human Rights
  • For optimists, Romeo and Juliet: The Deleted Scene Where They Wake Up and It Was All a Dream
  • For Katy Bourne, It’s Not the Size of Your Majority That Counts, It’s How You Use It
  • For Sarah Palin, ‘Climate Change': What a Load of Old Cobblers
  • For evangelical Christians, On the Origin of Species: the Original Edition by God, Before Darwin Got His Hands on It
  • For Michael Farthing, A Fair Trial Is Whatever You Say It Is
  • For English readers, The West Indies Aren’t Much Good at Cricket (trailer here)

As a post-script, though, I can’t help wondering whether HarperCollins’ ghastly decision to wipe Israel off the map is any worse than Jewish schools’ insistence on using maps that omit to label Gaza and the West Bank, or than this 1960s Hebrew-English dictionary which rather charmingly translates ‘Palestine’ as eretz Yisra’el (‘land of Israel’)…

hebrew-english dictionary translates palestine as eretz yisrael israel

‘Yo Blair’ part two

Insert bromine here

Insert bromine here

As if it weren’t sickening enough when George W Bush was recorded hailing our exalted former Prime Minister with the words, “Yo Blair!”, David Cameron has lowered the bar even further with the revelation that President Obama “sometimes calls [him] ‘bro'” on the ’phone.

Other irritating exposés from his interview with the Daily Mail include how he asked Samantha Cameron for advice before deciding whether or not to deploy the SAS (her experience as a retailer of premium leather-bound diaries was doubtless invaluable) and that if re-elected he’ll reform education – the reason he won’t just do it now is presumably spite.

dial m for murdochrect3773


Two can play at that game

The ICC is based in The Hague

The ICC is based in The Hague

Palestine’s announcement of its decision to join the International Criminal Court and call for a war crimes prosecution against Israel prompted a mixed reaction from Israeli politicians: often mixed from the same people.

For example, former Israeli diplomat Danny Ayalon said: “Membership in the ICC will harm the Palestinians, who commit blatant and obvious war crimes!” Which no doubt explains why he’s simultaneously falling over himself to prevent them from joining.

In other words, the Israeli government is trying the old…

path3005…bluff, so no real change from their existing strategy of treating the Palestinians like easily-bullied children.

Or in other other words, Bibi’s warning the Palestinians that they’re Playing with the Big Boys Now. Click on the green circley thing.

Editor’s note: before you send in messages about the above song, please consult the following Frequently Asked Questions:

Do you support Hamas?

Do you support acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians?

Do you support the BDS movement?

Are you an anti-Semite?

Do you deny that anti-Semitism exists?

Do you ever do anything to advocate for Israel?

Do you hate Israel?
No, if I hated Israel I wouldn’t mind it pursuing self-destructive policies like the above.

You’d have been a Nazi collaborator if you lived in wartime France, wouldn’t you?

Are you poisoning the minds of young people?

Why are you pretending to be Jewish when you have such a Christian-sounding name?
The name ‘Gabriel’ first appeared in the Tanach (Daniel 8:16).

Roslyn Pine Board of Deputies Twitter hypocrisy

I can scarcely credit it, but…
In tonight’s episode, which was dedicated to all those touched by the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, the voice of reason was played by HarperCollins and owned by Rupert Murdoch. Colonial India was administered terribly well by Sir George Campbell. The part of Winston Churchill was played/ taken by Sajid Javid. Tweedledum and Tweedledee were played by Israel and Palestine. The cyber-bullying was provided by North West Friends of Israel and Sussex Friends of Israel. This was an Gabrielquotes production!
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Maccabeen there done that

You might think I’ve plumbed the very depths of Channukah-based humour but we’ll see. If you want to be updated when I’m next back, put your email address into the box on the right.

It’s that time of year again; let there be light, oil, latkes and presents. And if you’re having trouble finding decent, why not browse this year’s hot-off-the-press-edition catalogue from GABRIEL FESTIVE INNOVATIONS!

gabriel festive innovations 2014 masthead

Other Channukoid news

JC comparisonAnd on which point…


Parliamentary news

The Penny Drops; or, One Major Cock-up

The Penny Drops; or, One Major Cock-up

Portsmouth MP Penny Mourdaunt had a bet on to try and slip the word ‘cock’ as many times as possible into a speech to the House of Commons, while David Cameron had a similar bet on to try and slip as many stupid policies into a five-year term as Prime Minister.

Gosh, how childish.

But she’s not the only one: Nigel Mills MP (Amber Valley, Con.) was filmed playing ‘Candy Crush’ on his iPad for two and a half hours while he was at a meeting of the Work & Pensions Select Committee. Mills admitted that he “shouldn’t do it […] I shall try not to do it in future.”

He’ll try not to sit in a meeting, get out his iPad, switch it on, select ‘Candy Crush’ and sit playing it for extended periods of time. He’ll make an effort not to do that.

I think it’s heartwarming how committed Nigel Mills is to conquering his demons.

The Sussex trade

badger tribunal caseThe case of University of Sussex v Information Commissioner and Webber (EA/2014/0148) continues apace. Last week Sussex student newspaper The dear old Badger turned me into an infographic [left]; and yesterday they published an article about my Guardian Runner-up Student Reporter of the Year award for uncovering Lapelgate. (Slightly sad to be so old that I get invited to share my war stories with a young cub reporter.)

Interestingly Sussex University itself hasn’t yet found time to report that one of their alumni won a prestigious journalism award like they did when someone won last year. They managed to report someone else winning one though so I guess it must just be an oversight.

Anyway, reading through the legal bundles with which they’ve filled my front room, one gets a pretty rosy picture of how lovely they are. They began every one of their letters over the legal case with the sentence:

The University would again stress its ongoing commitment to the Freedom of Information regime and the openness and transparency that it promotes.

Well, that seems jolly good of them! They sounded almost hurt that I’d made a formal FOI request rather than simply asking them for the information I wanted man-to-man.

freedomofinformation[1]However, this “ongoing commitment” to FOI apparently developed fairly recently (or is just completely contrived; I guess that’s a theoretical possiblity) because in 2012 the University of Sussex made the following submission to a Parliamentary select committee:

On the whole it [the Freedom of Information Act] is not used for the purposes of encouraging transparency […] It can be deliberately used for time-wasting or mischievous questions […] We suggest that the FOIA enquirer should be required to present a specific public-interest rationale for each request, which the receiving body should be able to challenge.

It’s lovely when public authorities are so committed to transparency that they want to retaint for themselves the power to decide whether or not a request for information is worthwhile. “You want to know about our Board’s three-month fully-funded trip to Tahiti? No, I don’t think you need bother your pretty little head with that.”

Lusm transparency.


And a happy new year

Gabrielquotes Plc. wishes all of its readers a joyful winter season, Limmud, new year etc., and we’ll be back presently with more tempting tidbits.

See ya then!


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