UK news

BBC repels attacks on Gaza flotilla programme

By Marcus Dysch, August 26, 2010

The BBC has defended its Panorama programme on the Gaza flotilla incident amid a barrage of complaints from pro-Palestinian supporters.

Led by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, demonstrators protested at BBC offices in London, Manchester and Bristol on Sunday against "shockingly biased reporting".

In Death in the Med, presenter Jane Corbin interviewed IDF soldiers and activists involved in May's incident. She concluded that those on board the Mavi Marmara had been politically motivated and had not acted primarily to help Palestinians.


Quiz whizz of Didsbury on Mastermind

By Jennifer Lipman, August 26, 2010

A student who reached the semi-finals of University Challenge is preparing to test her brain on Mastermind.

Rachael Neiman, who lost her sight at 17 after contracting rheumatoid arthritis, will brave the black chair next Friday (September 3).

The 26-year-old student, who lives in Didsbury, south Manchester, is originally from Blackpool, where her family are members of the Reform Synagogue.

She has chosen questions on the pop group Belle and Sebastian as her specialist subject.

"They know about the choice, and they are excited - Mastermind hasn't had them before," she said.


Ben Uri buys Holocaust horror art

August 26, 2010

A jubilant Ben Uri Gallery was celebrating its latest acquisition this week: an important work by the distinguished German artist George Grosz, which in brutal clarity shows the horrors of the Second World War.

Grosz, who was not Jewish, and died in 1959, painted Interrogation - a man being tortured by Nazi soldiers - between 1936 and 1939, following his emigration to the USA in 1933.

There are only 15 examples of Grosz's work on public view in the UK, just six of which are in London.


Interfaith job for BBC faith boss

August 26, 2010

The former head of religion and ethics at the BBC, Michael Wakelin, has joined the Council of Christians and Jews, Britain's oldest interfaith organisation, as its new director of programmes.

Mr Wakelin spent four years as head of the BBC's religious broadcasting, standing down from his post this year.

The CCJ's chief executive, David Gifford, said: "Michael brings a wealth of insight and experience at a time of development and change in CCJ. His energy and creativity will be an asset to the team."


Kindertransport refugees hit out at Israeli plan to deport kids

By Simon Rocker, August 26, 2010

A number of former refugees who came to Britain as children on the Kindertransport have spoken out against Israel's plan to deport the children of illegal foreign workers.

Sir Erich Reich, who arrived in the UK from Nazi-occupied Austria at the age of four, said: "I don't know the ins and outs but psychologically, the idea of deporting children is contrary to our past and what we believe in."


New bid to improve life for Salford poor

August 26, 2010

Efforts to alleviate poverty, particularly among children, in Manchester's Charedi community have been stepped up with the launch of a new organisation and the extension of an apprenticeship scheme.

The Israel-based welfare body Mesila has started work in the north-west with the aim of getting families to understand how they can deal with their debts and come off benefits, rather than simply receiving charity.


Orthodox oppose education training courses

By Simon Rocker, August 26, 2010

Training courses for strictly Orthodox nursery school teachers have come under renewed attack because of material relating to child abuse.

Opponents have circulated a letter from the Rabbinical Council of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations warning of the danger of NVQ courses.

But Hindy Lew, manager of Vista Education and Training, one of the institutions which runs NVQ courses for the Charedi community, said: "The way we teach it, there is no reason for people to be agitating against it."


MP attacks judge on Gaza claim

By Robyn Rosen, August 26, 2010

The MP for Leeds North East, Fabian Hamilton, has called for action against the judge who suggested that one of the anti-Israel activists who was acquitted of damaging an arms factory should be awarded the George Cross.

Judge George Bathurst-Norman made the comments in his summing up of a trial last month.

Mr Hamilton, who said it is becoming increasingly difficult to defend Israel in parliament, wrote to the Attorney-General last week.

He said: "What makes this trial most disturbing is the way in which the judge used his summary to promote his own political views about Israel.


Botch-op surgeon suspended

By Marcus Dysch, August 26, 2010

A surgeon has been suspended for six months after the General Medical Council found he was guilty of misconduct.

Gideon Lauffer, of Hendon, was sanctioned after a series of botched operations.

The GMC heard that two patients had died and a third lost a testicle after Mr Lauffer "acted outside his area of competency".

Concerns were first raised about his performance in 2004, but the GMC then decided he should be allowed to continue working while improving his abilities.


Christian festival styles itself as the Gaza Strip

August 26, 2010

Thousands of music fans are expected to attend a four-day festival organised by Christian groups promoting Palestinian causes.

Greenbelt, held at Cheltenham Racecourse from today, will feature performances by Shed Seven and Beverley Knight and a promotional campaign entitled "If Greenbelt was Gaza." The campaign asks fans to "confront the stark contrast" between the event and the "day-to-day life experienced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip" by asking them to consider how they would manage with only one tap on the site or how 12,800 festival-goers would survive without food.