UK news

Board fights 'racism' label in JFS hearing

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

The Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling on the JFS admissions dispute before the end of the year.

In the court’s most high-profile case since it opened last month, nine judges will decide whether Jewish schools can allocate places according to whether a child’s parent is Jewish.

JFS has contested a Court of Appeal decision made on behalf of a boy who had originally been rejected because the Chief Rabbi does not recognise his mother’s non-Orthodox conversion.

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Polish filmmaker in death-threat claim

By Leon Symons, November 5, 2009

A London-based Polish filmmaker says he has received death threats and been the target of a hate campaign for making a film about antisemitism.

Aro Korol believed that the campaign led to him being photographed by people who, he claimed, were Polish government agents.

His claims were strenuously denied by the Polish Embassy, although it admitted that a Catholic political party had complained to the Polish Foreign Ministry about the film, saying it would cause serious offence.

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Charedis raise funds for rapist

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

A strictly Orthodox community is running a fundraising campaign for a convicted child molester who avoided jail by hiding in London for two years.

Nachman Stal lived secretly among the Charedi community in Stamford Hill, north London, having fled Israel in 2006 after being found guilty of sodomy and indecent assault of a minor.

The father-of-nine lost an extradition hearing in June and is now serving his sentence in an Israeli prison.

Members of the Stamford Hill community are appealing for money to support his wife and children, who have also returned to Israel.

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FZY target Gordon Brown with Gilad Shalit petition

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

Two Federation of Zionist Youth leaders have launched an online petition calling on Gordon Brown to make the release of Gilad Shalit a priority.

Aaron Collins and Samuel Franklin used the Downing Street website to set up the petition after a video of Shalit was released last month. An FZY spokesman said: “French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come out and declared that Gilad’s release is top of his agenda, and we hope that Mr Brown will do the same.

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Tonge defiant over fascist link

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

Liberal Democratic peer Baroness Tonge is to attend a pro-Palestinian conference from which she had been asked by an anti-racist group to withdraw.

The anti-BNP Nothing British group called on her to pull out of the event organised by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in London over an apparent invitation to the far-right Hungarian MP Kristina Morvai.

Baroness Tonge, confirming her attendance this week, said: “Ms Morvai is not attending the conference. I understand the invitation was never issued formally.”

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Channel 4 defends Israel lobby probe

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

Channel 4’s flagship investigations programme, Dispatches, is to probe what it calls “one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain” — the pro-Israel lobby.

The political columnist Peter Oborne is to front an hour-long broadcast, Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, due to be broadcast on Monday week.

The hard-hitting documentary strand has been responsible for such programmes as Undercover Mosque two years ago, which included covert filming of Islamist extremists preaching in British mosques.

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Simon Mann's family is 'overjoyed' at release

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

The family of freed British mercenary Simon Mann have thanked the president of Equatorial Guinea for pardoning the 57-year-old.

The former SAS soldier had been sentenced to 34 years in jail for his role in a coup plot in the oil-rich African nation. He was freed by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema on Tuesday.

In a statement, Mr Mann’s Jewish wife, Amanda, said: “Everyone is profoundly grateful to the president and the government of Equatorial Guinea.

“The whole family is overjoyed at the prospect of finally welcoming Simon home after five-and-a-half long years away.”

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Last piano-maker in UK closes down

By Leon Symons, November 5, 2009

The last piano-maker in Britain, which started life in the heart of north London’s Jewish community, has closed its doors just 18 months short of its centenary.

Michael Kemble started Kemble and Co in Stoke Newington in 1903 and now his grandson, Brian, has completed the last two pianos to be made in the UK — literally. He put the last strings in the last piano himself.

Now production has been taken over by the Japanese company Yamaha, with which Kemble has worked since 1968.

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BBC under fire over 'antisemitic' material

By Robyn Rosen, November 5, 2009

Two complaints have been upheld against the BBC for “antisemitic” comments and “biased” material against Israel.

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) found that an item on the BBC news website, entitled “London summit on Jewish refugees” gave a “misleading impression” that Jews are treated equally in Muslim countries when, in fact, they are discriminated against.

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Good times over as JNF seeks cash from Iceland

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

The UK’s third biggest fundraising Jewish charity retains hopes of eventually recovering £375,000 that was caught up in the Icelandic banking crisis.

JNF UK deposited the money with a UK subsidiary of Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank, Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander, which went into administration last year.

Samuel Hayek, JNF chairman, said: “We have had confirmation from the administrators that at least 60-75 per cent will be recovered. But we are hopeful that all the money will be recovered.”

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