UK news

Berkoff v Finkelstein: row over Jewish law

By Jennifer Lipman, July 22, 2010

Two high profile Jewish writers are engaged in a public dispute over the purpose of religious law.

Actor Steven Berkoff has accused Daniel Finkelstein of making “a sad reduction” of Jewish ritual and suggested his comments would make sense only to someone who “came from another planet.”

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Official: war crimes law to be changed

July 22, 2010

The Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, announced today that the coalition government will act “at the first opportunity” to change the law on universal jurisdiction for war crimes.

It will table a legislative amendment which will require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be issued, in response to any private prosecution for war crimes.

It is expected that the amendment will be introduced in September, when Parliament returns from its summer recess.

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Clarke: action soon on universal jurisdiction

By Marcus Dysch, July 21, 2010

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has promised that the government will address a law allowing private prosecutors to issue arrest warrants for visiting Israelis “in the very near future”.

Responding to a question on altering universal jurisdiction law by Hendon MP Matthew Offord, Mr Clarke described the current situation as “unsatisfactory”.

He said: “We are urgently considering how to proceed and expect to make an announcement shortly.

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Open verdict for Egyptian Mossad 'spy' death

By Jennifer Lipman, July 21, 2010

A coroner has said there was “no evidence” that an Egyptian businessman accused of being a Mossad spy was murdered by Israel.

Coroner Dr William Dolman at Westminster Coroners' Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence of unlawful killing or suicide for the death of Dr Ashraf Marwan in Britain in 2007.

But, recording an open verdict, Dr Dolman acknowledged that there were still “many unanswered questions”.

Dr Marwan’s widow said she still believed the 62-year-old millionaire, found dead by the fourth-floor balcony of his London home, had been pushed.

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Hurndall father wants Hague meeting

By Jennifer Lipman, July 20, 2010

The father of a British activist shot in the Gaza Strip has said he wants to meet the Foreign Secretary to discuss the British government's "weak response" to his killer’s early release.

Tom Hurndall was shot while volunteering in Rafah for the International Solidarity Movement in 2003. In 2005 the man responsible, a former Israeli soldier called Taysir-al-Heib, was jailed for eight years for the “unlawful killing”.

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The barmitzvah that had everything

By Jennifer Lipman, July 20, 2010

There was a barmitzvah on the BBC on Monday evening as the channel aired a programme about lavish children’s birthday parties, featuring a Jewish family from Chigwell in Essex.

Guy Colman’s party at the Four Seasons Hotel in London was one of four celebrations included in the programme “My Child's Big Fat Birthday Party”.

Others were a cowboy-themed party for an eight-year-old and a winter wonderland affair with live reindeers.

Thirteen-year-old Guy was barmitzvah in October 2009 at Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue, where he read a portion from Lech Lecha.

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Chris Patten: end blockade, talk to Hamas

By Jennifer Lipman, July 19, 2010

Conservative politician Lord Patten has attacked Israel for what he called the “medieval siege" of the Gaza Strip, and called for the European Union to do more to end it.

In an interview with the Guardian while visiting Gaza the former cabinet minister and current Oxford University Chancellor described it as "easier to get into a maximum security prison in the UK than to enter Gaza."

He called on the EU to take a position on Israel that is bolder and more independent from the United States and described the blockade of Gaza as "immoral, illegal and ineffective.”

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Interfaith support for opposition to food labelling

By Robyn Rosen, July 15, 2010

Muslim leaders have joined the concern expressed over new EU regulations which mean kosher and halal meat will be labelled “meat from slaughter without stunning”.

The European Parliament voted in favour of the amendment to the provision of food information to consumers last month, just two weeks after New Zealand banned the kosher slaughter of animals.

The decision, which only applies to food killed by religious slaughter, was widely condemned by the Jewish community with Henry Grunwald, chairman of Shechita UK, calling it “discriminatory”,

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Row over Fashion Week on Yom Kippur

By Jan Shure, Fashion Editor, July 15, 2010

A leading fashion editor has criticised the British Fashion Council for the scheduling of some 20 catwalk shows on Yom Kippur, declaring that she will not attend a key event because it coincides with the end of the fast.

Suzy Menkes, influential fashion director of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune, said: “I am sad that the British Fashion Council ignores entirely the importance of Yom Kippur to the many Jewish people who are involved in the fashion trade.”

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Ordain women, rabbi urges the Archbishop

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

One of the UK's leading Progressive rabbis has intervened in the Church of England's debate over women bishops, urging the Archbishop of Canterbury: "For goodness sake, ordain them".

Rabbi Alexandra Wright, senior rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS), St John's Wood, for the past six years, made her appeal in an open letter to Dr Rowan Williams.

The Church of England Synod - its governing lay council - reaffirmed its support this week for ordaining women bishops, although without a timetable. Traditionalists have threatened to leave the Church if the plan goes ahead.

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