UK news

Kosher Big Mac offer for the Olympics

By Leon Symons, May 7, 2009

A mouth-watering prospect has been raised for the London Olympics in three years’ time — and it has nothing to do with sport.

Orthodox Jews who are enthusiastic sports fans usually ensure they have something to eat at such events by taking a packed lunch.

But that might not be necessary if the Jewish Committee for the London Games, part of the London Jewish Forum, gets its way.

It has asked the Games’ organisers to set up kosher food stands provided by the Games’ main food sponsor, McDonald’s.

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'Non-Jew' to re-wed

By James Martin, May 7, 2009

A man who was told last summer by a Jerusalem rabbinical court that he was no longer Jewish will marry his girlfriend in Israel at the end of this month — under Reform auspices.

London-based Yossi Fackenheim, 29, is the son of the renowned Reform theologian Emil Fackenheim, who died in 2003. Because his mother was a convert, as a two-year-old in Canada, he underwent an Orthodox conversion. But last year he was told that his conversion had been rescinded due to his lack of religious observance.

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New boycott threat from UCU

By Simon Rocker, May 7, 2009

Anti-boycott campaigners fear that a fresh attempt could be made to implement sanctions against Israeli universities when higher education lecturers meet at their annual union congress at the end of the month.

The University and College Union refused to comment on whether any debate on Israel would take place, saying that the agenda for the meeting in Bournemouth in three weeks will be published next week.

But the JC has learned that the union’s national executive has approved the submission of three motions on “Palestine”, raising the alarm among anti-boycott activists.

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JNF agrees to go to Beth Din hearing

By Leon Symons, May 7, 2009

The chairman of JNF has spoken publicly for the first time about a five-month-long row over donations.

Samuel Hayek explained why the charity has not passed on more than £250,000 to a Negev-based Israeli non-governmental organisation (NGO), Project Or.

The money was part of more than £600,000 raised at a dinner in London in January 2007 organised by businessman Cyril Stein, who has taken up the cudgels on Or’s behalf.

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Field wide open in hunt for Deputies’ leader

By Simon Rocker, May 7, 2009

The most hotly contested leadership election in the 250-year-old history of the Board of Deputies remains an open race with no front-runner yet emerging for president, after a straw poll by the JC.

When nominations closed last Friday, there were a record four candidates competing to be president of British Jewry’s main representative body for the next three years, with seven for the three vice-presidencies.

More than half of the 27 deputies polled — around 10 per cent of the 268 eligible to vote in Sunday’s week election — have yet to make up their mind.

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Ron Prosor and Gerry Adams: road to peace

By Marcus Dysch in Belfast, May 7, 2009

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said he “would like to help” advance the Middle East peace process using his experience from Northern Ireland.

His comments came as Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor made a two-day tour of Belfast this week.

When Mr Adams visited the Middle East in March, Israeli officials refused to meet him after he held talks with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza.

But he offered Mr Prosor a warm welcome to Ulster ahead of an hour of private talks on Wednesday afternoon.

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Get a (longer) life in Salford

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 7, 2009

A scheme is being piloted in Manchester to ensure that observant Jewish patients have the right to stay alive if they become critically ill.

The so-called Halachic Living Will allows patients’ religious beliefs to be taken into account in any medical decisions.

Under the scheme, patients can sign a legal contract to appoint a rabbi or representative who would then make life-saving medical decisions — in line with halachah (Jewish law) — on their behalf if they become mentally incapacitated.

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Anti-Israel camp split on ‘Zionist conspiracy’

By Bernard Josephs, May 7, 2009

A split has emerged within the ranks of anti-Israel campaigners after one of Israel’s harshest parliamentary critics, George Galloway, warned his fellow activists that claims that a powerful Zionist lobby is steering the Middle East policies of Western governments could lead to outright antisemitism.

But Lib Dem peer Baroness Tonge reiterated to the JC her belief that there is indeed a Zionist lobby which exercises disproportionate influence.

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Squatters evicted from Swan pub

By Marcus Dysch, May 6, 2009

A group of Polish squatters have been evicted from a pub owned by a strictly Orthodox Jewish community.

The men had entered the Swan, in Stamford Hill, last month and displayed a notice from the Criminal Law Act explaining their intention to live in the building.

It is believed representatives of the Bobov community, who own the Clapton Common site and hope to turn it into a community centre and synagogue, obtained an interim possession order (IPO) from a county court.

The squatters were then removed last Friday afternoon.

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Miliband's Iran warning

By Leon Symons, April 30, 2009

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has warned that Iran has “one chance” to draw back from the brink of a potential nuclear confrontation.

Speaking at the Lord Mayor’s banquet at Mansion House last week, Mr Miliband made it clear that the potential threat of Iran attaining a nuclear capability still represented the single greatest threat to world peace.

He also called on Europe and the Arab world to give much greater support to the Middle East peace initiative launched by President Obama.

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