France

Roma deportations not like Holocaust roundups

By Shirli Sitbon, September 7, 2010

French community leaders have spoken out against the targeting of the Roma people for deportation, but rejected comparisons with the roundup of the Jews in the 1930s.

"We can't accept discrimination like the one the Roma community is facing. It's a European problem and it must be addressed on that level," said Richard Prasquier, head of the French Jewish umbrella group CRIF.

"But I was shocked by certain comparisons. The situation today is nothing like the one under the Vichy regime."

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Holocaust-era deportation archives to be opened

By Jennifer Lipman, August 31, 2010

Records of Jewish people who were deported from France during the Holocaust are to be revealed following a landmark decision by California legislators.

The French state train company SNCF is expected to place a bid to construct a high-speed railway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

But last week, in a bill sponsored by Jewish lawmaker Bob Blumenfield, the California state legislature ruled that all companies bidding for the project had to disclose whether they had a direct role in Holocaust transportation between 1942 and 1944.

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Wiesel calls on France to stop Roma deportations

By Jennifer Lipman, August 31, 2010

Elie Wiesel has condemned the French government’s decision to expel Roma immigrants but cautioned that a comparison with the Nazi round-ups was not appropriate.

The Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor described the repatriation of Roma people from France to Romania and Bulgaria as unacceptable.

As a former refugee, Mr Wiesel expressed his solidarity with the Roma and called on French president Nicolas Sarkozy to stop the crackdown.

But he also said: "It is necessary to be careful with the language.

“These Roma are sent to Romania, to Hungary, not to Auschwitz.

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Gilad Shalit's fifth birthday in captivity marked

By Jennifer Lipman, August 30, 2010

A rally marking the 24th birthday of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has attracted thousands of people in Jerusalem.

Aviva Shalit used the occasion of her son’s fifth birthday in captivity to appeal to Benajmin Netanyahu to do more to secure Gilad’s freedom.

Mrs Shalit has been camped outside of the Israeli prime minister’s home since June in an attempt to pressure the government into striking a deal for Gilad’s release.

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French battle to bring back 'foreign' names

By Shirli Sitbon, August 5, 2010

Dozens of French Jews have been fighting a battle that few people were aware of - they've been trying to get their family names back.

Years ago, their parents changed their "foreign-sounding'' names so they would sound French because they dreaded anti-Semitism.

But their children and grandchildren see their old names as a trail of their family history. The problem is, French law doesn't allow someone to revert to a former name. And on the rare occasions requests are considered, officials insist that the whole family must agree.

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TalkSPORT Shimon Peres slip up

By Marcus Dysch, August 5, 2010

Listeners to a late-night radio phone-in got a shock when a man introduced as a Zionist Federation spokesman announced he could not discuss Shimon Peres's comments on British antisemitism because he was eating a toasted sandwich.

The imposter, pretending to be former ZF public affairs director Gavin Gross, failed to answer any questions about Mr Peres's remarks, saying he was too busy eating.

TalkSPORT presenter Adrian Goldberg, not realising he had been hoaxed, said the man's comments were "absolutely, utterly disgraceful" during Sunday's show.

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Ban Jewish burka, say Israeli rabbis

By Nathan Jeffay, July 29, 2010

Israeli rabbis are set to ban the burka for a small group of radical Jewish women who have taken to wearing it.

Two years ago, it emerged that around 100 women in the city of Beit Shemesh had begun to cover their faces with a veil and wear numerous layers of clothing to obscure their body shape. When many rabbis criticised the trend, the women took no notice because they considered the rabbis too moderate.

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Gainsbourg, a life lived in revenge for the yellow star

By Eddi Fiegel, July 28, 2010

For most Jews, the yellow star that thousands were forced to wear by the Nazis would not be the most obvious choice of subject matter for a pop song. But then the French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg was never really your average Jew.

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Conference cancelled because of Israeli guest

By Jennifer Lipman, July 26, 2010

A French literary conference has been cancelled after pro-Palestinian activists refused to share a platform with an Israeli author who is a Holocaust survivor.

Novelist Esther Orner, 73, was set to appear at the March 2011 event hosted by the University of Provence.

But an anonymous group of Egyptian and Palestinian writers refused to take part in dialogue with an Israeli, prompting Ms Orner to speak out in the French media.

The controversy led university president Jean-Paul Caverni to cancel the entire conference.

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Jewish WW1 soldiers reburied

By Marcus Dysch, July 22, 2010

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were joined in France this week by 12 veterans from the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, as the Prince dedicated the first new Commonwealth War Graves cemetery for 50 years.

Two thousand people gathered at Fromelles, near Lille, for the reburial of 250 British and Australian soldiers on the 94th anniversary of the battle in which they were killed.

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