UK news

Stormont is lobbied on Israel motion

June 10, 2010

A Northern Ireland Assembly motion, singling out Israel for criticism over its handling of Gaza, was defeated after the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel group lobbied political parties to vote against it.

The unprecedented emergency debate last Friday was supported by Sinn Féin and nationalist members.

It came as Ulster Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire
travelled on the MV Rachel Corrie boat as it approached Gaza.

The motion called on Israel to conform with human rights and international laws.

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Hay speeches on flotilla prompt upset

June 10, 2010

Labour peer Lord Winston was at the forefront of a walkout last week from a talk by the leading radical lawyer, Michael Mansfield QC, when Mr Mansfield called Israel a "pariah state."

The talk, at the annual Hay literary festival, sponsored by the Guardian, prompted angry complaints from Jewish audience members. But Mr Mansfield and another speaker, comedian Jeremy Hardy, were defended by Hay Festival organiser Peter Florence.

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BBC botches Big Questions Gaza programme

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

The BBC was unable to broadcast a programme in which a Gaza flotilla participant was forced to defend himself against allegations of Holocaust denial because of transmission problems.

Ismail Patel, chairman of the Leicester-based Friends of Al Aqsa group, appeared on Sunday's episode of The Big Questions to discuss the topic "Is Israel acting immorally?".

Among those defending Israel were Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Federation, Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet and Shoah survivor Martin Stern.

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NIF chair appeals for calm over flotilla

By Jessica Elgot, June 10, 2010

The chairman of the New Israel Fund UK has told supporters to ignore extremist views on both sides of the Middle East debate, and expressed his sadness at the lack of understanding from both sides.

In an email sent to NIF supporters, chair Nicholas Saphir wrote: "We are all stunned and saddened by the tragic deaths and injuries to civilian activists and Israeli soldiers."

He added: "We need to remember that we are blessed to live in comparative safety, whereas Israel is in constant threat from those who are openly committed to its destruction."

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Academic 'will sue the UCU'

By Simon Rocker, June 10, 2010

A senior Jewish academic has said he will sue the University and College Union if it boycotts a West Bank college where he is a guest professor.

Professor Geoffrey Alderman, of the University of Buckingham, said he had consulted lawyers over the UCU's vote last month to investigate a possible boycott of Ariel College.

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Chief Rabbi: 'I did my best for women'

June 10, 2010

The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has defended his efforts to improve equality for women during nearly two decades in office.

His record was challenged by June Jacobs, a former president of the International Council of Jewish Women, at questions tabled following a lecture the Chief Rabbi gave to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in London this week.

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The Olympic kippah for Jewish volunteers

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

Volunteers at the London 2012 Olympic Games will be offered the chance to wear an "Olympic kippah" as part of their uniform.

The specially-designed yarmulke will form part of the official attire for Jewish members of the 70,000-strong volunteering team.

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has held discussions with representatives of the Jewish community to discuss provisions, including kosher food, which will be needed for Jewish competitors and visitors to the capital.

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Bernstein to decline payout after voters shut out of polling station

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 10, 2010

Sir Howard Bernstein, the chief executive of Manchester City Council, is to refuse a £19,000 payout if a report shows significant failures over his running of voting in Manchester during the May elections.

An internal investigation has been launched by the council following anger from 300 voters who were locked out of polling stations in Withington, south Manchester, after 10pm on May 6.

It has emerged that Sir Howard is to receive a combined payment for acting as the returning officer who oversaw voting in that constituency
and four others.

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Stamford Hill brothel shutdown

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

A suspected brothel next door to a major Jewish community centre has been closed by police following complaints from neighbouring residents.

The sex den was next to Lubavitch UK's headquarters, at the heart of the community in Stamford Hill, north London.

Officers from the Met's Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command and Hackney borough police boarded up the building last Friday after obtaining a closure order, using new legislation which makes it a criminal offence for anyone to enter the property.

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Psychologist used false names to avoid £1m property debt

June 10, 2010

A Jewish psychologist who used over 40 false names to avoid paying debts of over £1m has been jailed.

Yehuda Crammer, 65, of Prestwich, Manchester, was sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment on Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to two counts of concealing property after he was made bankrupt in 2004.

Manchester Crown Court heard how the psychologist, who ran a Harley Street clinic as well as one in central Manchester, had racked
up £800,000 of debt from owning a care home which fell into financial difficulty.

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