UK news

Sir Martin Gilbert on Iraq panel

By Simon Rocker, July 16, 2009

Two of British Jewry’s most eminent academics, Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman, have been appointed to the government’s committee of inquiry into the Iraq War.

Sir Lawrence, vice-principal and professor of war studies at King’s College, London, and Sir Martin, whose books include histories of the world wars, are being made privy counsellors.

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Heirs fight on as UK refuses to return art

By Leon Symons, July 16, 2009

The heirs of a wartime German art historian, Curt Glaser, have challenged a UK government panel’s decision not to return eight drawings once in his collection.

The drawings, said to be worth around £35,000, now hang in the Courtauld Institute in London.

Lawyers acting for the descendants of Professor Glaser have asked the Spoliation Advisory Panel (SAP) to rethink its decision and may take legal action to try to retrieve the works of art.

David Rowland, a New York lawyer representing the heirs, said the panel’s decision was contradictory.

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Charity pushes for global Israel boycott

By Bernard Josephs, July 16, 2009

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, has complained to the Charity Commission about a potential breach of its guidelines by the charity War on Want.

Mr Lauder wrote in the wake of last week’s London launch of a book accusing Israel of human rights abuses, an event at which War on Want called for a worldwide boycott of Israel.

The stormy meeting at Toynbee Hall, hosted by the charity, and featuring journalist Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, saw sharp exchanges between members of the audience and a small group of pro-Israel participants.

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Father given police warning over church row

By Marcus Dysch, July 16, 2009

An argument over church rent has landed a Jewish father-of-three with a police harassment warning.

Martyn Saunders-Rawlings, a former member of Hastings and Bexhill Jewish Society, had protested against a council decision to lease a building to an evangelical group at a reduced rate and with an annual grant.

He wrote to Cathy and Glenn Khan, who run Hastings’ Sonrise Church, as well as sending letters and emails to other church leaders and his local newspaper during the past year.

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US pledges to challenge court decision on JFS

By Simon Rocker, July 16, 2009

There are “good prospects” of reversing the Court of Appeal ruling on Jewish schools, Simon Hochhauser, the president of the United Synagogue, declared this week.

He told an unusually well-attended meeting of the US Council on Monday: “It is the view of our legal advisers… if this case does get to the House of Lords, it has good prospects of being overturned.”

The Court of Appeal has now ordered JFS to reconsider whether to give a place to a 13-year old boy who was originally rejected two years ago.

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The Lord Mayor is my shepherd

July 16, 2009

The Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Ian Luder, exercises his ancient right to drive sheep across London Bridge. The event was held to mark the 800th anniversary of the bridge.

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The Chief Rabbi on his new book and his new title

By Simon Rocker, July 16, 2009

By the time his long-awaited peerage was announced, the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, had already gone into seclusion. Around this period of year, he closes his public diary and turns his mind to writing a new book.

The latest of his 18 books, Future Tense, appeared only last month and he has called it the “most important” he has written, an attempt to produce a “satellite navigation system” for Jews and Judaism in the years ahead.

While the book warns of the rise of “the new antisemitism”, its message is that the Jewish agenda should not be defined by external threat.

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Northern Ireland Parades chief is Jewish woman

By Leon Symons, July 16, 2009

he new chair of Northern Ireland’s Parades Commission has been greeted with a baptism of fire — almost literally.

Rena Shepherd has claimed a double first — she is the first Jew and the first woman to head the body, which maps out the routes for Ulster’s marching season. The season reached its climax this week with the annual Twelfth of July Orange Order and Apprentice Boys’ marches.

The Parades Commission was created as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

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Calling Jews 'Nazis' may be criminalised

By Leon Symons, July 16, 2009

Parliament will be asked to consider whether the use of Nazi symbols and terms in reference to Jews, Israel and Zionism is breaking the law on incitement to racial hatred.

A new report by the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (EISCA) has highlighted the increasing use of what it terms the “Nazi card” in antisemitic discourse and has called for a number of measures to try to combat its spread.

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Anti-Israel lobby wins arms ban from UK government

By Bernard Josephs and Anshel Pfeffer, July 16, 2009

The Foreign Office this week denied imposing a partial arms embargo on Israel, despite its decision to ban spare parts for Israeli naval vessels used during its winter operation in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead.

The news broke as 26 Israeli soldiers claimed that the IDF had committed war crimes during the Gaza operation.

On Monday, the government, in response to a sustained campaign from pro-Palestinian groups and parliamentarians, announced the cancellation of five export licences for equipment to upgrade weaponry on 4.5 Saar Corvettes.

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