UK news

John Lewis store rounds on Israel boycott campaigners

By Robyn Rosen, January 20, 2011

The department store John Lewis has accused an anti-Israel campaign group of sending "false and misleading" information after it published a triumphant press release linking the company's withdrawal of an Israeli cosmetics brand with the boycott campaign.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) sent an email to its mailing list on Friday claiming John Lewis was "now refusing to stock" Ahava products.

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Brits out in force at Herzliya Conference

By Martin Bright, January 20, 2011

The Herzliya Conference, Israel's annual summit on global strategy and the Middle East, will have a prominent British presence this year.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox will speak on the defence ministers' panel on the opening day of the conference, which begins on February 6. He will speak alongside Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and his Czech opposite number Alexandr Vondra. With the possible exception of Michael Gove, Mr Fox is seen as Israel's most vocal champion in the coalition cabinet.

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Alistair Burt: Building 'not helpful'

By Martin Bright, January 20, 2011

Middle East minister Alistair Burt used a visit to Israel this week to condemn new settlement building in East Jerusalem. He said the construction of 1400 new apartments in Gilo would damage future prospects of peace.

"We have always been clear that settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace. Pushing ahead with this plan would be a deeply unhelpful move and hinder efforts to resume talks between the two parties leading to a two-state solution to this conflict, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states living side by side in peace and security."

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JLC forced to scrap first West Bank visit

By Marcus Dysch, January 20, 2011

The Jewish Leadership Council has postponed a trip to meet Palestinian leaders in the West Bank following an angry reaction from community representatives.

Chairman Vivian Wineman had been due to travel to Ramallah next month with other council members including Sir Trevor Chinn and Rosalind Preston. They would have met Palestinian Authority officials and members of non-governmental organisations such as Oxfam and War on Want.

The JLC had also proposed that a representative of the Office of the Chief Rabbi join the touring group.

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Deputies two-state solution Middle East row

By Simon Rocker, January 20, 2011

Board of Deputies leaders were left trying to salvage its Israel policy this week after members threw out a resolution that declared support for a two-state solution in the Middle East.

Despite the convincing rejection of the motion, Board president Vivian Wineman insisted that most deputies still remained in favour of the concept of a two-state peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

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'British Schindler' Sir Nicholas Winton's film debut

By Jennifer Lipman, January 20, 2011

A British man’s Holocaust-era heroics will be celebrated tonight at the world premiere of a film about how he saved hundreds of children from the Nazis.

Sir Nicholas Winton, described as the British Schindler, organised the safe passage of 669 children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia to Britain as war broke out in 1939.

A 29-year-old stockbroker from a family of German Jewish background, he was moved to help rescue the children after visiting a refugee camp in 1938, three months after Adolf Hitler annexed the border region of Sudetenland.

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Britain ban for flag-burning pastor Terry Jones

By Jennifer Lipman, January 19, 2011

An extremist American pastor who said Judaism was “of the devil” and threatened to burn a Koran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks has been excluded from Britain.

A Home Office spokesman said the decision was because of “numerous comments” by Mr Jones that were “evidence of his unacceptable behaviour.”

Members of the interfaith Council of Imams and Rabbis had sent home secretary Theresa May letters appealing for her to stop Mr Jones entering Britain.

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London university to host imam who called Jews 'enemy'

By Robyn Rosen, January 18, 2011

Queen Mary University’s Islamic Society is to host controversial speaker Abu Usamah, who has called Jewish people the “enemy”.

Abu Usamah, who is an Imam at Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham, will address students on Wednesday in a lecture entitled: “Wives of the Prophet.”

In 2007, footage of him was used in a Channel 4 documentary called Undercover Mosques. He was filmed saying Osama bin Laden is “better than a thousand Tony Blairs” and that non-Muslims are “liars”

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Ian McEwan wins 2011 Jerusalem Prize

By Jennifer Lipman, January 18, 2011

British writer Ian McEwan has been described as “one of the most important writers of our time” by the judging panel of this year’s Jerusalem Prize.

The author of the bestselling novels Atonement and On Chesil Beach was named as the recipient of the prize, Israel’s most significant literary honour for foreign writers.

Mr McEwan was chosen for the £6,200 prize because of “his love of people and concern for their right to self-realisation, and in recognition of his artistic achievements.”

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Nazi controversy threat to King's Speech Oscar chances

By Jennifer Lipman, January 18, 2011

The award-winning film about Britain’s wartime king has been condemned for whitewashing history by an anonymous critic who some suggest is seeking to upset the film’s Oscar chances.

The King’s Speech, which stars Colin Firth as King George VI, follows the monarch as he ascended to the throne in 1936 and attempted to conquer his life-long speech impediment.

The film ends with the king’s powerful speech as Britain entered the Second World War, but in general makes few mentions of the Nazi threat.

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