UK news

Amnesty calls for further Gaza probe

By Simon Rocker, July 29, 2010

Amnesty International has called for further action to ensure that the perpetrators of alleged war crimes in last year's Gaza conflict are brought to book.

In February, the United Nations set a five-month deadline for Israel and the Palestinians to mount "credible" investigations into the conflict which expired on Monday.

In an official statement, Amnesty said this week: "A year and a half after the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel ended, the victims have yet to obtain justice, truth or full reparations; the perpetrators on both sides have yet to be held to account."

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Ancient coins conference in London

July 29, 2010

Coin and history specialists in the field of Roman and Jewish coins will gather in London next month for an international conference.

Judea and Rome in Coins, from 65 BCE to 135 CE, will bring together American, British and Israeli numismatic experts, for a two-day conference.

It will take place at the London premises of the coin and medal specialists, Spink and Son, and is co-sponsored by the University College London's Institute of Jewish Studies.

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Glee for Jewish Don't Stop Believing finalists

By Robyn Rosen, July 29, 2010

A north London family have formed a band and beaten 8,000 competitors to reach the final stages of a new television talent show.

Parents Laurence, 57, and Bebe Jacobs, 55, and their three children Alex, 27, Avi, 24, and Shira, 21, will perform in front of a live audience on Channel 5's Don't Stop Believing on Sunday (August 1).

Presented by former Spice Girl Emma Bunton and judged by singers Anastacia and Duncan James from Blue, former EastEnders actress Tamzin Outhwaite, and High School Musical choreographer Charles "Chucky" Klapow, the show is based on the popular US series Glee.

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Methodist set up Friends of Israel group

By Robyn Rosen, July 29, 2010

A Methodist preacher has set up a Methodist Friends of Israel group as a response to her church's call to boycott Israel.

Earlier this month the Methodist conference passed a report calling for a boycott of goods from "illegal" West Bank settlements, and for political lobbying to end Israel's occupation and the "siege of Gaza".

The decision was widely criticised and the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council said the church should "hang its head in shame".

Pam Smith, a preacher in Monmouth, South Wales, created a website and Facebook group to gain support for Israel.

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JFS ruling creates barmitzvah confusion

By Simon Rocker, July 29, 2010

A number of Orthodox Jewish schools are stopping organising bar or batmitzvah ceremonies for pupils because they cannot tell if they are halachically Jewish, according to the head of the United Synagogue's Rabbinic Council.

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet explained that the change was being made as a result of last year's court ruling on Jewish school admissions.

Speaking last weekend at an event in north London, he said that a meeting had recently taken place for young people who act as wardens in midweek services that take place at various schools.

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Desmond: Channel Five and Jewish faith

By Rob Lyons, July 29, 2010

Media mogul Richard Desmond, who has just bought Channel Five, said this week that he retained a strong commitment to the Jewish community.

The 59-year-old billionaire owner of the Daily Express, Daily Star and OK! Magazine - who is famously hands-on with his titles and not afraid of giving its editors a dressing-down - told the JC that, despite the huge task ahead in making the broadcaster profitable, it will not affect his dedication to the Jewish charity Norwood, of which he is president.

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Arab MKs blast 'apartheid' Jewish state

By Marcus Dysch, July 29, 2010

Israeli Arab Knesset members have launched a blistering attack on the Jewish state and its Parliament, declaring Israel "racist, fascist and worse than apartheid South Africa".

Speaking to supporters of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at the House of Commons on Wednesday, MK Haneen Zoubi said: "Israel is much worse than the apartheid regime in South Africa. There were no ethnic cleansing policies there, but there are those policies in Israel."

Demand for entrance to the event was so great that supporters filled two committee rooms.

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Anger over Cameron Gaza comments

By Rob Lyons, July 29, 2010

Prime Minister David Cameron's description of Gaza as a "prison camp" prompted anger this week from all quarters.

Mr Cameron, addressing Turkish businessmen in Ankara on Tuesday, declared: "The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable." And in reference to the Israeli blockade, he added: "Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp."

The remarks led to consternation that the PM should apparently use criticism of Israel as a vehicle by which to promote closer relations with Turkey.

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Jewish Gaza flotilla funding delay

July 29, 2010

An all-Jewish flotilla of anti-Israel campaigners which had pledged to sail to Gaza and break the blockade has been delayed due to an £18,000 shortfall in funding.

Captained by British sailor Glyn Secker, of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the flotilla was announced in the wake of the incident in June in which nine people were killed when Israeli commandos boarded a convoy of ships travelling to Gaza.

The all-Jewish boat is supported by European Jews for a Just Peace, an umbrella organisation of groups from 10 countries.

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Doubts over universal jurisdiction 'solution'

By Marcus Dysch, July 29, 2010

Arguments over alterations to the universal jurisdiction legislation have continued this week, despite the government’s announcement of a proposal to change the law.
J
ustice Secretary Ken Clarke said the coalition would table a legislative amendment which will ensure the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is required before an arrest warrant can be issued, in response to a private prosecution for war crimes.

This would close the loophole which saw lawyers representing Palestinians secure such a warrant for Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni last December.

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