Gaza

Interfaith tensions rise in Britain and France

By Marcus Dysch and Rebecca Assoun, January 22, 2009

Interfaith groups are attempting to preserve lines of communication amid the fallout from events in the Middle East.

British-based organisations say their members are working to remain united despite events in Gaza, but in France tensions have risen after Muslims quit the country’s only Jewish-Muslim forum.

Jane Clements, director of the UK-based Forum for Discussion of Israel and Palestine (Fodip) said the past month had created “difficulties. When these things happen it always points out that relations are not improving.

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NUS sit-in disrupts congress

By Simon Friend, January 22, 2009

A meeting held this week to ratify the latest National Union of Students’ governance and reform structures was disrupted by a sit-in from 20 members of the student National Executive Council as a protest against Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

The interruption followed a week of “Stop the War” rallying on many university campuses around the country. The meeting, held at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, was attended by 500 students. Up to 100 walked out following the protest and many of those remaining turned their backs on the demonstrators.

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Students fear for safety as rallies grow

By Marcus Dysch and Simon Friend, January 22, 2009

The fallout from the Gaza conflict has been felt at universities around the country as Jewish students returned to their campuses.

At the London School of Economics, a students’ union anti-racism officer was responsible for an anti-Israel motion and involved in a similar rally.

Joseph Brown was pictured wearing a keffiyeh [traditional Arab head-dress] and “Free Palestine” T-shirt during a protest at the central London campus last week.

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Pro-Israel demo outside Iranian embassy

By Leon Symons, January 16, 2009

Up to 500 people demonstrated outside the Iranian embassy in Kensington, west London, last night (Thursday).

Led by a group of Zionist Federation activists and with ZF support, the group said it wanted to bring to wider attention Iran’s role in Middle East affairs as the main backer of both Hamas in Gaza and Hizbollah in Lebanon.

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Muslims condemn attacks on Jews

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2009

A group of Muslim activists has issued an open letter condemning antisemitic attacks in response to the Gaza crisis.

Addressed to “fellow Muslims”, the group of 18, including imams, businessmen and scholars, wrote that they were “deeply saddened” to hear of assaults on British Jews.

“We unreservedly condemn attacks on innocent British citizens and the desecration of all places of worship.”

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Miliband puts faith in democracy

By Leon Symons, January 15, 2009

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has called on Israel “as a beacon of democracy” to help find a political solution to its conflict with Hamas.

He told MPs that Israel argued against accepting UN resolutions which saw equivalence between a democratic state and a terrorist organisation.

“There is and can be no equivalence,” said Mr Miliband. Hamas had shown itself over a number of years “ready to be murderous in word and deed”.

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Settlers return as soldiers

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 15, 2009

Soldiers from the evacuated Gush Katif returned this week to some of the ruined settlements abandoned after Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005.

“I cried when our tank passed by the ruins of Netzarim and made a symbolic small tear in my uniform as a sign of mourning,” said one soldier interviewed through his parents and whose name cannot be used due to IDF restrictions.

An Israeli flag had been planted on the ruins and the road to Netzarim was being used by the 401th Armoured Brigade to cut Gaza City off from the southern part of the Strip.

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Rabbis' letter shows agony over conflict

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2009

A newspaper letter signed by leaders of the UK’s two Progressive movements and the leading Jewish interfaith activist, revealed growing unease within the community over Israel’s military campaign.

Published in the Observer, it voiced concern that Israel’s actions could “strengthen extremists” while civilian casualties threatened to “undermine international support for Israel”.

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Analysis: Israel's diplomatic failure led to UN resolution

By Danny Ayalon, January 15, 2009

In March 2001, Ariel Sharon visited George Bush for the first time as Israel’s new prime minister. As Sharon’s chief foreign policy adviser then, I remember the unwritten understanding those two men reached during that initial encounter: our countries would never surprise each other — we may not always see the situation in the same light, but we would always consult.

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IDF gets a fresh face

By Yaakov Katz, January 15, 2009

A Manchester-born soldier has become one of the public faces of the IDF during Operation Cast Lead.

Former paratrooper Elie Isaacson, 28, made aliyah in 2000 and heads the North American Desk in the IDF Spokesman’s Unit.

The work, he said, is extremely interesting. “We are dealing with press from all over the world and it is a challenge but we are more on top than ever before,” he said. “The fact that I have a combat background gives what I say a bigger punch since when I talk about the field I know what I am talking about. I have been there and have seen it.”

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