UK news

BBC defends Panorama Gaza flotilla doc

By Jessica Elgot, August 18, 2010

BBC Panorama has issued a strong rebuff to viewers who claimed the programme "Death in the Med" - shown on Monday night - was biased in Israel’s favour.

Pro-Palestinian groups attacked the BBC for its criticism of those onboard the Gaza flotilla.

Presenter Jane Corbin concluded: “The bid to break the naval blockade wasn’t really about bringing aid to Gaza. It was a political move designed to put pressure on Israel and the international community.”

The Zionist Federation praised the documentary and urged supporters to thank the BBC for its fair coverage.


Global conference backs RMT anti-Israel motion

By Robyn Rosen, August 18, 2010

A resolution calling on all transport companies to stop the movement of services to Israeli settlements has been passed with the backing of the British transport union.

The resolution, voted for by delegates at the annual International Transport Federation (ITF) conference, calls for action on “illegal Israeli settlements” and was passed last Thursday.


Edinburgh council to discuss Israel boycott

By Jessica Elgot, August 18, 2010

Edinburgh City Council is debating tomorrow (Thursday) whether to sever ties with a waste company, because it operates in Israel.

Green Party Councillor Maggie Chapman has submitted a motion calling for a boycott of any environmental services contracts for the French company Veolia, and has demanded that its current contracts are not renewed.
She is supported by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and some other Opposition councillors, including Labour’s Angela Blacklock - who submitted a second motion on the same issue.


Christian convert loses discrimination case

By Jennifer Lipman, August 17, 2010

An Israeli lecturer in modern Hebrew who claimed she was made redundant after converting from Judaism to Christianity has had her case of religious discrimination dismissed.

At an employment tribunal in Reading, Judge Robin Lewis upheld Dr Tali Argov’s complaint of unfair dismissal, but ruled that the academic is not entitled to any compensation.


Vanessa Feltz's wild party upsets neighbours

By Jennifer Lipman, August 13, 2010

Vanessa Feltz has landed herself in trouble with her neighbours after a noisy party at her north west London home.

The presenter, 48, hosted an event to celebrate her daughter Allegra’s engagement to a French lawyer.

But the party, which went on until after 4am in a garden marquee, attracted complaints from 12 neighbours.

A court has now instructed that Ms Feltz pay £3,000 for breaching council noise levels.


Sir Philip Green takes on government budget

By Jennifer Lipman, August 13, 2010

Sir Philip Green has been given a role leading a government spending review.

David Cameron has appointed the Jewish billionaire Topshop boss, to identify where cuts can be made.

The unpaid role will require him and a team of civil servants to examine Labour’s last three years of spending.

His findings will then form part of Comprehensive Spending Review, to be announced in October.

The 58-year-old, who built up his empire from scratch after leaving school at 15, told BBC’s Radio 4's Today programme he thought centralising spending could be the way forward.


Shul that’s a model to them all

By Robyn Rosen, August 12, 2010

Cheshire Reform Congregation, also known as Menorah Synagogue, was previously housed in a 1960s flat-roofed, prefabricated building which was designed to have a 30-year life.

In 2004 work began on fund raising and designing a new building. Construction began in the summer of 2007 and the new building had its first service on Kol Nidre at the beginning of October 2008.

The new building, also single storey, was constructed to meet all the relevant requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Document M of the building regulations.


Struggle over disability access at synagogue

By Robyn Rosen, August 12, 2010

Batya Wiles wants to go to shul. But unlike her Stamford Hill friends and family, hers is not a routine decision but an intense dilemma.

Ms Wiles has been in a wheelchair since 1986 and accessing synagogues which lack facilities for the disabled can be an intimidating and undignified affair.

During a recent visit to St John's Wood Synagogue, she says, "I wheeled through to the centre of the men's section where there was what looked like a wooden pen with no curtain. I was so embarrassed I wanted to leave, but I couldn't get out."


BNP want Jewish 'comrades' to fight Muslims

August 12, 2010

Members of far-right organisations are urging colleagues to support an unlikely ally - Israel.

Small groups of BNP and English Defence League supporters are championing the Jewish state as part of a perceived struggle with the Muslim world.

They call for Israel and the BNP to be "comrades in arms".

One person commenting on a pro-BNP blog suggested that the party should open an office in Israel to "show solidarity with the Israeli people".

But Jon Benjamin, Board of Deputies chief executive, warned: "No one in their right mind should have any truck with the BNP or their ilk."


El Al's 16 hour 'accessible' flight to Eilat

By Jan Shure, August 12, 2010

The announcement by El Al of new flights designed to make Eilat more accessible to Britons has been given a cool reception by the travel industry.

The airline has inaugurated three flights a day, from Sunday to Thursday, between Ben-Gurion and Eilat, and one flight a day on Friday and Saturday. For passengers booking an El Al flight from London, the onward Eilat fare is just £7.