UK news

Man jailed for Auschwitz sign theft

By Marcus Dysch, December 30, 2010

A Swedish man has been jailed for more than two years for plotting the theft of the "Arbeit macht frei" sign at Auschwitz.

Former neo-Nazi leader Anders Hoegstroem, 34, admitted his role in the theft and agreed a plea bargain with the Krakow court last month.

He will be moved to Sweden to serve his sentence of two years and eight months.

The infamous sign was recovered last December, three days after it was stolen. It had been broken into three separate pieces.

The judge also jailed two Polish men, each for up to two-and-a-half years, for their roles in the crime.

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The clashes that divided Thatcher and Israel

By Marcus Dysch, December 30, 2010

Margaret Thatcher believed that Menachem Begin was the "most difficult" man she had to deal with in the early years of her premiership, and thought his West Bank policy "absurd".

The former Prime Minister's views about her Israeli counterpart are unearthed in documents released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule.

The previously secret papers reveal that, during a tête-à-tête with President Giscard of France at Number 10 in November 1979, Mrs Thatcher discussed how she had "never had a more difficult man to deal with" than Mr Begin.

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UN chief attacks 'alienating' BDS

By Paul Berger, December 29, 2010

The head of the UN's relief agency in Gaza has criticised the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and called for the release of Gilad Shalit.

UNRWA head John Ging was interviewed in front of a packed audience on Monday during the week-long Limmud conference, held at Warwick University.

Though he reserved particular criticism for Israel's "counterproductive" blockade of Gaza, Mr Ging struck
a conciliatory tone, acknowledging the low opinion of UNRWA in Israel and in the diaspora.

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Tussles at the tills during Tesco boycott

By Marcus Dysch, December 29, 2010

Shoppers scuffled at a supermarket checkout after anti-Israel protesters loaded a trolley full of products and refused to pay for them.

Young demonstrators, including children, from the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC), filmed themselves choosing Israeli products at Tescos in Barkingside, Essex.

They are seen filling the trolley with dozens of packets of chicken soup powder, melons, pickled cucumbers and herbs. One girl complains that a packet of Israeli Medjool dates are "kosher" and complains there is no alternative.

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Ahava shop demo lead to arrest

By Robyn Rosen, December 29, 2010

An anti-Israel protester was arrested following a demonstration outside the London branch of Israeli cosmetics shop, Ahava.

The 51-year-old man was arrested for allegedly blocking pro-Israel campaigner Richard Millett from filming, but was released without charge.

Mr Millett had been using a hand-held camera to film a Palestine Solidarity Campaign protest outside the Covent Garden shop last Wednesday evening.

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Calls for Solomon to quit

By Marcus Dysch, December 29, 2010

A university society has called for a student union president to resign over apparently antisemitic remarks.

The Model United Nations Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies said Clare Solomon, president of the University of London Union, had "clearly lost the authority to represent all students equally".

Last month Ms Solomon claimed in a Facebook post that the persecution of Jews had been fabricated to justify attacks on Palestinians. The 37-year-old mature student said her comment had been "badly-worded" and apologised for any "misunderstandings".

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Board say no to Hassassian address

By Simon Rocker, December 29, 2010

Vivian Wineman, the president of the Board of Deputies, has rejected a proposal to invite the Palestinian Authority's UK envoy, Manuel Hassassian, to address the organisation.

Board treasurer Laurence Brass had urged Mr Wineman to "grasp the nettle" and extend an invitation to Professor Hassassian. But Mr Wineman said: "We will not be inviting him. I am opposed and I believe the overwhelming majority of the executive are opposed as well." He said it would be "doubly inappropriate at this stage in the peace process with talks stalled for the Board to be hosting him".

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'Claims' criticism rejected

By Simon Rocker, December 29, 2010

The Board of Deputies has dismissed complaints about a critical report into the Claims Conference, the international body which distributes compensation to Holocaust survivors.

Julius Berman, the conference's chairman, said the Board had not given them a chance to comment on the report before publishing.

But Jon Benjamin, the Board's chief executive, said the main findings had been sent to the New York-based conference in summer, and a copy of the final document was given a week before publication earlier this month.

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Charedim applaud visa rule change

By Simon Rocker, December 29, 2010

The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations has welcomed a court ruling which may force the government to ease restrictions on marriage visas.

Two years ago, new rules were introduced to refuse entry for spouses from outside the European Union if they or their British spouse were under 21.

But the change hit the Charedi community, where people marry young and often choose partners from Israel or the USA.

The Court of Appeal has now called into question the whole policy - which was designed to combat forced marriages - after upholding appeals on behalf of two non-Jewish couples.

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Rabbis targeted by 'bomb plot terror suspects'

By Marcus Dysch, December 29, 2010

Two rabbis were said to be among a group of potential targets for a gang of nine terror suspects, a court has heard.

Other possible targets for the alleged bomb plot included the London Stock Exchange, the US Embassy, Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster.

Details of who the two rabbis are, and their synagogues, cannot be reported for legal reasons.

The gang appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday and were remanded in custody. They
will appear at the Old Bailey on January 14.

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