UK news

Liberal Judaism backs campaign against sexual discrimination

By Simon Rocker, December 3, 2009

Liberal Judaism is backing a campaign to restrict the exemptions sought by some religious groups from anti-discrimination laws.

It is giving support to the Cutting Edge Consortium, a coalition of gay rights and progressive organisations, lobbying over the Equalities Bill currently before Parliament.

The bill is meant to consolidate existing laws against discrimination on grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age and disability.

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Turkish and Israeli envoys rebuild ties

By Simon Rocker, December 3, 2009

Israel and Turkey’s ambassadors to the UK put aside the friction between their two countries over the past year by sharing a joint platform in London on Monday.

Israeli envoy Ron Prosor gave his Turkish counterpart Yigit Alpogan a friendly pat on the back after a well-attended meeting in Westminster jointly hosted by the Conservative Friends of Israel and Conservative Friends of Turkey.

Mr Prosor said the event was “testimony to the significance of the relationship between Israel and Turkey and the magnitude of the shared interests and values we hold together”.

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Israeli scientist denies global warming

By Robyn Rosen, December 3, 2009

A leading Israeli scientist has renounced the concept of man-made global warming at a lecture given to the British Technion Society, just days before world leaders meet to discuss ways to halt it.

Professor Giora Shaviv, professor of physics at the Technion, claimed that the accepted level of carbon dioxide in the air is wildly exaggerated.

Last week he gave the eighth Ron Arad lecture at the Royal College of Physicians, for the British Technion Society, which raises funds for Israel’s science university.

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Chabad to clear debt 'by early next year'

By Simon Rocker, December 3, 2009

The Lubavitch Foundation hopes by early next year to have finally cleared the debts which have led auditors to query the viability of the organisation.

In the last available accounts, for the year ending December 2007 — which were filed only this summer — auditors wrote of “material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the charity’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

The organisation still owed the Inland Revenue more than £462,000, according to the papers, and is believed still to be in negotiations with the tax authorities.

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Stalker to be sent for psychiatric testing

By Leon Symons, December 3, 2009

A man who persistently stalked a young mother has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment before a judge determines his sentence.

Elliot Fogel, 34, formerly of Edgware but now living in Isleworth, appeared at Wood Green Crown Court on Monday for sentencing. At an earlier hearing, he pleaded guilty to storing material on his computer that broke an indefinite restraining order banning him from any contact with the mother, Claire Waxman.

The material included 40,000 searches for Mrs Waxman on Google; her wedding picture, which appeared on his desktop; and her new home address.

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ZF slams Goldstone letter in The Times

By Leon Symons, December 3, 2009

The Zionist Federation has criticised the authors of an “open letter” to Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling on him to endorse the Goldstone Report on Israel’s action in Gaza.

The letter, with nearly 700 signatures and published in The Times on Tuesday, said that British Jews did not “speak with one voice” on Goldstone.

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Angela Epstein, the UK's first ID card holder

By Angela Epstein, December 3, 2009

It was a historic moment for democracy, Manchester and for me. Yet the whole thing could have been scuppered by my Shabbat dinner.

Having been invited by the Home Office to be the first member of the public to receive a national identity card this week, I found myself being fingerprinted at Manchester`s passport offices as part of the process.

Yet despite the technology behind the controversial £4.7 billion scheme, the scanner couldn’t cope with a plaster on my finger. It was there to cover a burn sustained while making my roast potatoes on Friday night.

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Faith school should teach all religions, says Rabbi

By Simon Rocker, December 3, 2009

A lobby group headed by a senior Reform rabbi has called for religious education to be added to the national curriculum — which would require faith schools to teach religions other than their own.

The Accord Coalition, chaired by Rabbi Jonathan Romain, wants to ensure that children at religious schools learn at least something about other faiths.

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Academic: Doctors who circumcise should be struck off

By Leon Symons, December 3, 2009

Critics have rounded on an academic who has warned that doctors could be guilty of negligence and be breaking the Human Rights Act for performing circumcisions for anything other than medical reasons.

Dr David Shaw, an expert in medical ethics at Glasgow University, called for the General Medical Council (GMC) and the British Medical Association (BMA) to tighten up the advice they give doctors about circumcision.

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Race rant diplomat back at Foreign Office

By Leon Symons, December 3, 2009

A senior diplomat convicted of racially aggravated harassment for a foul-mouthed anti-Israeli rant in a gym has been given a new role at the Foreign Office.

Rowan Laxton, 48, the then head of the South Asia desk at the FO, was exercising in a gym when saw a television report during Israel’s action in Gaza and shouted “f------ Israelis, f------ Jews”.

Two men exercising elsewhere overheard him, complained to staff and Mr Laxton was arrested and charged subsequently. He was also suspended from his post at the FO.

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