UK news

Brown: I'll change war crime arrest law

By Martin Bright, February 25, 2010

Gordon Brown has personally intervened to unblock the logjam over a change in the law that allows local magistrates to issue arrest warrants for visiting foreign politicians accused of war crimes.

The JC understands the Prime Minister is determined to press ahead with the law change before the election.

Last December, Foreign Secretary David Miliband promised to amend legislation after a warrant was issued for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni over her role in planning Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

More..

Liberal Judaism to lobby Lords over gay marriage

By Jessica Elgot, February 23, 2010

Gay Jewish couples could soon be allowed to marry in synagogue after religious groups including Liberal Judaism and several Anglican bishops have lent their support to a relaxation of a ban.

An amendment to the Equality Bill is expected to be debated in the Lords next month to pave the way for the registration of civil ceremonies for gay couples in churches, synagogues and other religious premises.

More..

Manchester Uni to debate Israeli speaker ban

By Marcus Dysch, February 22, 2010

Manchester University Students' Union has not voted to ban all Israeli speakers from giving talks, despite earlier claims to the contrary.

Andrew Balcombe, speaking at the Zionist Federation dinner last night, claimed that the Union executive had voted to deny all Israelis a platform at the Union.

It had been thought that the executive had pushed through a motion backing a ban.

The JC now understands that an executive meeting is due to take place on Tuesday to discuss interpretations of a motion adopted after last year’s Gaza conflict.

More..

Leo Baeck's YouTube stars

By Jessica Elgot, February 19, 2010

Leo Baeck College has launched a YouTube video channel which will feature five videos of rabbis daily lives.

The videos feature five graduates of Leo Baeck College.

The Liberal Synagogue Elstree’s Rabbi Pete Tobias, West London Synagogue’s Rabbi Debbie Young Somers, Finchley Reform’s Rabbi Miriam Berger, Radlett and Bushey Reform’s Rabbi David Mitchell and student rabbi Sandra Kviat are shown in their daily duties and interviewed on the video.

The videos will show the young rabbis engaging in community work, education and interfaith activities.

More..

Accountant jailed for £100k fraud

By Leon Symons, February 19, 2010

An accountant has been jailed for two years for fraud and deception involving sums up to £100,000.

Fred Blacher, 65, of Grange Gardens, Pinner, had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing at Isleworth Crown Court in west London to charges of obtaining property by deception, fraud by abuse of his position and dishonestly making a false representation.

He has appeared there again and Judge Edmunds QC sentenced him to two years on each charge, with the sentences running concurrently, giving a total of two years in prison.

More..

Foreign Office: Mossad never told of Dubai murder

By Jessica Elgot, February 19, 2010

The Foreign Office has categorically denied it was warned hours before about a high-profile assassination, and that British passports would be used by Mossad.

Although the target, Hamas military leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, and the location, a luxury hotel in Dubai, were not named, a Mossad source allegedly told the Daily Mail that MI6 knew the January killing was imminent.

The Foreign Office, however, insists that ministers knew nothing about the six British passports, used to cover the identities of the assassins, before the names were released by Dubai police.

More..

Essex town to twin with Bethleham

By Robyn Rosen, February 18, 2010

A small rural Essex town is planning to twin with Bethlehem, becoming the first formal such arrangement between the Palestinian territories and England.

But some Jewish residents have expressed concern at the plan to twin with Mersea Island, which Mayor Peter Clements claims is not "political," but aimed at forming religious links.

The mayor said this week: "The deputy mayor of Bethlehem suggested the twinning and I thought: 'What a jolly good idea'.

More..

Tories tell Livni: we’ll change 'arrest' law

By Martin Bright, February 18, 2010

Senior Conservatives have assured opposition leader Tzipi Livni that a Tory government would change the law that allows magistrates to issue arrest warrants for foreign politicians accused of war crimes.

Shadow business secretary Ken Clarke and shadow attorney general Edward Garnier met her in Israel as part of a party charm offensive.

More..

Sharp decline in gap years to Israel

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

The number of youngsters taking gap years in Israel fell dramatically this year because of the financial climate.

Only around 60 went to Israel this year, compared to more than 100 a year over the past three, according to FZY, the UK's largest Zionist youth movement.

And Bnei Akiva, the religious Zionist movement, experienced a slide from about 40 to the lower 20s.

But leaders hope that numbers will begin to climb again this autumn with BA anticipating as many as 55 recruits to its yeshivah and year schemes which can cost as much as £16,000.

More..

PCC backs Julie Burchill

February 18, 2010

The newspaper industry watchdog has rejected a complaint against the JC about a comment by columnist Julie Burchill.

Reader Jess Wood complained that the comment that Christians were persecuted "all across the Muslim world" was inaccurate and misleading.

But the Press Complaints Commission ruled that care had been taken to ensure such "robust opinions" had sufficient basis in fact.

The article ran on December 11, headed "My quest for the one true faith".

More..