UK news

Ian McEwan: Engage with Israel even if you disagree

By Jennifer Lipman, February 18, 2011

The British writer Ian McEwan has expressed his belief in the importance of engaging with Israeli politics rather than boycotting the country.

Speaking in Israel ahead of a ceremony at which he will receive this year’s Jerusalem Prize, Israel’s highest honour for foreign writers, Mr McEwan said: “You cannot isolate [literature] but I take it as a bad sign when politics permeates every corner of life”.

According to the Guardian, he added: “I don't feel I endorse every corner of Israel's domestic or foreign policy…but I feel it's right to engage with it."


Unite attack 'belligerent' Norwood over job cuts

By Jennifer Lipman, February 18, 2011

Norwood has defended itself over employment union Unite’s allegations that it is one of the voluntary sector’s “renegade employers”.

Unite accused the charity of not living up to its “caring” label after talks on staff pay cuts and new contracts broke down within minutes.

The disability charity has been heavily hit by local authority budgets cuts and has lost around £4 million in funding.

In November it laid out plans to cut the wages of front-line care staff and make 20 per cent of head office staff redundant, as well as reduce supplier costs.


London date for Rosenthal's Barmitzvah Boy play

By Jennifer Lipman, February 18, 2011

Jack Rosenthal’s play about making the Barmitzvah Boy musical, Smash! is to be shown on a London stage for the first time.

The Bafta-award winning playwright, who died of cancer in 2004, wrote the comedy Smash! after struggling to turn his hit television drama into a musical.

The tale of a Jewish boy’s apprehension about the ceremony made it to the stage in 1978, two years after it appeared on the BBC.


Lawyer's court date over fund theft

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 18, 2011

A top lawyer is to face two charges of theft totalling £95,000.

David Friesner, one of Manchester's most highly regarded barristers, will appear before Leeds Magistrates' Court over £81,500 of missing funds at his former St John Street Chambers in Manchester.

He also faces a separate charge of stealing £13,500 which was paid to him by the Crown Prosecution Service.


Academic faces Israel protest

By Jessica Elgot, February 18, 2011

The Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has called on Glasgow students to "prevent" a leading law professor from working in Israel.

Glasgow University Professor Adam Tomkins was recently awarded the Hailsham Scholarship by the British Friends of the Hebrew University, for promoting understanding between Israel and the UK. He is a former visiting professor at the Hebrew University.

Professor Tomkins has previously spoken of his desire to "strengthen ties between Glasgow Law School and legal scholars in Israel".


Campus extremism report gives green light to radical speakers

By Marcus Dysch, February 18, 2011

Guidelines on tackling extremism and hate speakers on British university campuses have been published following a year-long investigation.

Universities UK, the umbrella group representing university heads, said it could find “no simple answers or absolute rules” but sets out guidance on dealing with controversial speakers, protests, student societies and serious incidents on campus.

The report gives the green light to universities to continue inviting radical speakers to appear on campus by encouraging institutions to “engage” with them.


Ben Rich named as new Reform Judaism head

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2011

The Movement for Reform Judaism has appointed public relations consultant Ben Rich to be its next chief executive.

He will succeed executive director Rabbi Shoshana Boyd-Gelfand full-time in May, although he will begin working with her next month to ensure a smooth transition.

Mr Rich, 44, is already familiar with the movement, having acted as its PR adviser on projects such as the launch of the Reform siddur three years ago.

His communal experience also includes work for the Jewish Community Secondary School and Mitzvah Day.


Stalker faces new breach trial

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

A former TV producer who was previously jailed for stalking a young mother faces a new trial for an alleged breach of a life-long restraining order.

Elliot Fogel, 35, claims the new case was brought against him after he had attempted to take civil action against the woman he stalked.

Last year Claire Waxman described how Mr Fogel's harassment had ruined her life and the strain it had put on her health and her family's well-being.

Mr Fogel, of Edgware, north west London, is barred from being within one mile of Mrs Waxman at any time and must not contact her directly or indirectly.


Ofcom investigation into Peace TV

By Robyn Rosen, February 17, 2011

Media watchdog Ofcom is investigating UK channel Peace TV for giving a platform to banned Muslim preacher Zakir Naik.

Dr Naik was banned from entering Britain last year by Home Secretary Theresa May after allegedly claiming America was "controlled by the Jews".

An Ofcom spokesman confirmed: "We are in the middle of an investigation about Peace TV.

"Ofcom will not tolerate extremism on British television, and transgressors will be dealt with."


Quakers consider Israel boycott

By Jessica Elgot, February 17, 2011

British Quakers are considering "all options" after a debate on boycotting Israeli settlement goods.

Marigold Bentley, assistant general secretary of Quaker Peace and Social Witness said all boycotts and campaigns were currently being considered.

Quakers in Ramallah have called for the organisation to commit to boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, at the national "Meeting for Sufferings" last week with 150 British Quaker representatives.

Ms Bentley said: "We have discussed sanctions in the past, in the cases of Iraq and Zimbabwe; we are a peace movement.