United States

US backlash as Churchill play is staged

By Nathan Guttman, April 2, 2009

The US debut of Seven Jewish Children arrived to mild controversy — and two new plays written in response.

Performed at the Washington DC Jewish Community Centre’s Theatre J, Caryl Churchill’s play was accompanied by two short theatrical responses and an open discussion.

A small group of protestors reminded the audience of the stormy reaction to the play when it was first presented — in the aftermath of the Israeli military assault on Gaza earlier this year.

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‘Antisemitic’ Gaza cartoon sparks fury

By Nathan Guttman, April 2, 2009

A cartoon by one of America’s leading cartoonists has caused uproar among American Jewish groups, which have denounced it as antisemitic.

In his syndicated cartoon, published on March 25 in dozens of newspapers including the New York Times and the Washington Post, Pat Oliphant depicts a baby-carrying woman being pushed off a cliff by a headless, goose-stepping figure holding a Star of David with sharp fangs. The woman and baby are labelled “Gaza”.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called the cartoon “hideously antisemitic”.

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Child abuse crackdown

By Keren David, April 2, 2009

The Brooklyn District Attorney is joining with Jewish charities to crack down on child abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community.

DA Charles Hynes has set up Project Kol Tzedek — “Voice of Justice” — to encourage young victims of abuse to come forward.

“Because of the insular nature of Orthodox Jewish communities, many victims are reluctant to report crimes to secular authorities. This programme will go a long way to address those impediments,” said Mr Hynes.

A victims hotline will be set up, manned by social workers.

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Dubliner rises to top of American Jewry

By Leon Symons, April 2, 2009

The grandson of a former Board of Deputies president has won one of the top jobs in the American Jewish community.

Gideon Taylor, 44, grandson of the late Lord Fisher, has been appointed associate executive vice-president — a new post and number two in the organisation — of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the biggest Jewish social welfare organisation in the world.

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Web racists await possible extradition

By Leon Symons, April 2, 2009

The fate of two racists who were the first people in Britain to be convicted of publishing racially inflammatory material on the internet still hangs in the balance.

Simon Sheppard and Steve Whittle fled to America in the middle of their trial at Leeds Crown Court. They will know within the next three weeks whether or not an asylum court judge will return them to Britain. However, the pair have already said they will appeal if the decision goes against them. That process could involve appeals to two higher American courts and could take months before a final decision is reached.

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‘Nazi guard’ deported to US

March 26, 2009

A man accused of being a former Nazi concentration camp guard has been deported to Austria from the US.

US investigators say Josiah Kumpf, 83, took part in a 1943 mass shooting at Trawniki labour camp, Poland.

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Obama sends ‘let’s talk’ message

By Nathan Guttman, March 26, 2009

True to his campaign promise to reach out diplomatically to Iran, US president Barack Obama issued a public appeal to the Iranian leadership on the occasion of the Iranian holiday of Nowruz.

President Obama’s overture to Tehran marks the beginning of the US effort to engage with Iran, a strategy viewed with skepticism by Israel. The President’s public call for rapprochement comes days after senior administration officials were urged by Israel’s chief of staff not to shelve the military option against Iran.

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Iran uses fake CIA report to 'kill off' Israel

By Jenni Frazer, March 19, 2009

A claim that a secret CIA document exists that forecasts Israel would not survive for more than 20 years has been denounced as "a ludicrous hoax".

The report was broadcast by the Iranian-backed Press TV station last week and has subsequently been cited as fact on many websites and blogs. Press TV - a propaganda vehicle for the Iranian government - has been attacked for "disinformation".

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US ex-diplomat who lashed out at Israel stands down

By Nathan Guttman, March 19, 2009

The ‘Israel lobby’ has been accused of derailing the nomination of veteran diplomat Charles (Chas) Freeman as the new chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Mr Freeman announced last week that he was withdrawing from the post, and attacked pro-Israel activists who, he argued, “plumb the depths of dishonour and indecency and include character assassination”.

Chas Freeman is known for his close ties to the Saudi Government and for his harsh rhetoric calling on the US to re-evaluate its pro-Israel policy in the Middle East.

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Rabbinate in US ‘betray converts’

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2009

An extraordinary row over conversions has broken out between one of America’s leading modern Orthodox rabbis and the umbrella body for the central Orthodox rabbinate.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, New York, has accused the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) of creating an “alarmist climate” among converts after telling a woman he helped to convert that she must undergo a reconversion.

The RCA explained that the original conversion might not be universally accepted because one member of the rabbinic court that converted her was himself a convert.

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