UK news

Foreign Office man's 'racist' rant

By Jessica Elgot, September 17, 2009

A senior Foreign Office civil servant claimed that Israel should be “blown off the face of the earth” while watching a TV report on the Gaza conflict, a court has heard.

A man claimed he heard Rowan Laxton, 48, the head of the Foreign Office’s South Asia desk, shouting at a TV report while he was working out on an exercise bike in the London Business School gym.

Gideon Falter, who is Jewish, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court he heard Mr Laxton shouting: “f****** Israelis, f****** Jews” at the television screen which was showing a report about a dead Palestinian farmer.

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David Miliband's New Year message

By Jessica Elgot, September 16, 2009

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has sent a Rosh Hashanah message to the UK's Jewish community, where he addressed the issue of hopes for a Middle East peace settlement in the coming year.

Mr Miliband said: "Rosh Hashanah is a time of celebration for Jewish communities in the UK and around the world. A chance to look forward to the coming year and make plans, but also a period of reflection and soul searching.

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Unison and Unite to back Israel boycott

By Martin Bright and Jessica Elgot, September 15, 2009

Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, has confirmed it will be backing a boycott of Israeli goods proposed by the Fire Brigades Union, along with public sector trade union, Unison.

Unison and Unite’s support will now make the FBU’s chance of successfully getting the TUC to agree to the motion far greater.

Motion 76, tabled by the firefighters, called for the TUC to review its links with Histadrut, its Israeli trade union counterpart.

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Pro-Israel MP fires pro-Palestinian staffer

By Leon Symons, September 15, 2009

Brent North MP Barry Gardiner, one of Israel’s staunchest Parliamentary supporters, has sacked the man he appointed as his campaigns and communications manager for allegedly not revealing that he was pro-Palestinian.

Mr Gardiner, a former vice chair of Labour Friends of Israel, had appointed Joseph Brown to the post.

Last year Mr Brown was the union anti-racism officer at the London School of Economics (LSE) and took part in an anti-Israeli demonstration in January in the wake of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

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HRW suspends 'Nazi collector' analyst

By Miriam Shaviv, September 15, 2009

Human Rights watch has suspended its senior military analyst after it was revealed that he is a collector of Nazi memorabilia.

The organisation initially stood by Marc Garlasco, saying he “has never held or expressed Nazi or antisemitic views.”

His work, according to Carroll Bogert, the New York-based group’s associate director, had been “extensively reviewed, lawyered, scrutinized, pulverised by our programme and legal staff, and we have not in six years ever had cause to question his professional judgment.”

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Ben Uri gallery loses bid for new London home

September 11, 2009

The Ben Uri art gallery, Anglo-Jewry’s leading art house, has lost out in a bid to move to a new home in the heart of London’s theatreland.

Chairman David Glasser said that while there was “enormous disappointment” that its bid to move the former premises of the Theatre Museum in Russell Street in Covent Garden had failed, an alternative plan would be put into action straightaway that would achieve the same aim.

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Chief Rabbi to become Lord Sacks of Aldgate

By Simon Rocker, September 11, 2009

The Chief Rabbi will officially become a peer on October 27 when he enters the House of Lords as Lords Sacks of Aldgate.

He will be sponsored by Lord Winston and the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.

Explaining why he had chosen to nominate the East End of London district, he said; “My late father sold cloth in Commercial Road and my grandmother ran Frumkins wine shop. I wanted not to forget my roots. That’s where I used to help out help when I was a child and where my earliest memories are.”

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Jewish Community Centre gets go-ahead

By Jenni Frazer, September 11, 2009

The long-awaited Jewish Community Centre for London (JCC) has received unanimous planning permission from Camden Council to build its new home in Swiss Cottage, north west London.

The former Mercedes showroom on Finchley Road will be razed and rebuilt as a multi-purpose cultural and social building, expected to open in 2013.

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Three charged in safety deposit centre raid

By Leon Symons, September 10, 2009

Three people have been charged in connection with Operation Rize, a series of raids on safety deposit centres carried out by the Metropolitan Police in June last year.

Milton Woolf, 53, of West Heath Drive, Golders Green, a director of Safe Deposit Centres Limited, the company that controlled Hampstead Safe Depository, Edgware Safe Depository, and Park Lane Safe Depository, has been charged with 24 offences.

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Imprisoned by MI5 for writing a letter home to mum

By Leon Symons, September 10, 2009

Henry Wuga was just 15 when he was interned early in the Second World War for writing a letter to his parents in Germany.

Almost 70 years later, Mr Wuga confirmed his long-held suspicion that it was only a declaration of his innocence by MI5 that got him released from prison.

Mr Wuga, now 85, with two married daughters and four grandsons, told his story as part of the BBC’s The Week We Went to War series, shown this week to commemorate the outbreak of the Second World War.

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