UK news

Ed Miliband keeps controversial anti-Israel campaign worker

By Marcus Dysch and Jennifer Lipman, July 12, 2010

Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband has been criticised for hiring an anti-Israel researcher to work on his campaign, despite the volunteer having previously been sacked by another MP.

Joseph Brown, a former anti-racism officer at London School of Economics’ student union, is working on Mr Miliband’s website during the leadership contest.

While at LSE, Mr Brown allegedly made comments about having “shot down a Zionist” during an anti-Israel lecture theatre occupation in the wake of Operation Cast Lead.

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Jewish leaders condemn Iran stoning sentence

By Jessica Elgot, July 9, 2010

Leading figures from the Jewish community have supported the campaign to stop the stoning to death of a mother in Iran.

Politicians, rabbis and businessmen put their names to a letter to the Iranian government to stop the action against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery.

The Iranian authorities have now confirmed that the widowed mother-of-two will not be stoned to death, but did not say whether her death sentence had been lifted.

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Children's group boycotts Israel

By Jessica Elgot, July 9, 2010

A children’s educational movement has voted to boycott Israel at their annual gathering in Sussex.

The Morning Star reported that the Woodcraft Folk, which runs weekly sessions for children including singing, dancing, craft and eco-projects, voted for the boycott at their conference in Ashdown Forest, west Sussex.

The emergency motion was proposed by international secretary Paul Bemrose, who said it had been prompted by the deaths of nine Turkish activists on the Gaza flotilla.

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Judge slams father who abducted child

July 8, 2010

A senior judge has imposed swingeing restrictions on a "selfish" Jewish father who abducted his daughter and fled to Israel in the midst of a bitter residency row.

The father and mother divorced in the mid-1990s following 13 years of marriage and a prolonged battle for custody of their disabled daughter.

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Sex abuse complaint rejected

By Marcus Dysch, July 8, 2010

The Charity Commission has rejected a complaint against Christian Aid for publishing claims that Israeli settlers had sexually abused Palestinian children in Hebron.

Christian Aid apologised "unreservedly" after sending out a press release which mistakenly made the false claim and said it should have described the alleged incidents as having involved "verbal sexual abuse".

The episode came after social worker Miranda Pinch travelled to the West Bank town to "monitor human rights abuses" as part of an accompaniment programme part-funded by the
charity.

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£400k to boost profile of Israel with Bicom

By Robyn Rosen, July 8, 2010

Bicom plans to boost its profile and influence - with the help of a £400,000 cash injection.

New initiatives include setting up a virtual debating club, creating an Israel and Middle East peace process index, doubling delegations to Israel and establishing an annual policy conference.

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No bidders for rare Torah

By Lucy Morris, July 8, 2010

Does anyone want to buy a Sefer Torah for £200,000? Nobody did on Tuesday, when a rare medieval Spanish Torah was left unsold at a Sotheby's Western Manuscript and Miniatures auction.

The Sephardic Torah - believed to belong to a private owner in North America - was made in Toledo and is one of only two or three which were produced in Spain in the 13th century. It is remarkable that the scroll has survived in near-perfect condition - just one sleeve had to be replaced at a later date.

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Threatened synagogue appeals for relief

By Robyn Rosen, July 8, 2010

The life president of a Manchester synagogue which faces closure after owing £10,000 to a burial board has said that the only way it will survive is for the board to reduce its charges.

Higher Crumpsall and Higher Broughton Hebrew Congregation in north Manchester is supposed to pay one-third of the £30,000 annual running costs of the Rainsough Joint Hebrew Burial Board, which is responsible for the maintenance of Rainsough Cemetery in Prestwich.

But the 170-member congregation has been unable to maintain payments owing to its declining membership.

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Politicians urge new Pope schedule for Yom Kippur

By Robyn Rosen, July 8, 2010

The Jewish speakers of the House of Lords and Commons are trying to bring forward the time of a scheduled address by the Pope to Parliament in order to avoid a clash with the start of Yom Kippur.

Organisers of Benedict XVI's four-day state visit to Britain from September 16 to 19 have already rearranged the time of the meeting once after concerns that Jewish parliamentarians would be unable attend.

They have scheduled it to end at 6 pm – 56 minutes before the onset of the fast and the start of the Kol Nidre service.

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Police won't take action against Tesco boycotters

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 8, 2010

Merseyside police said this week that no action would be taken against Israel boycott protesters who marched into a Tesco store to hand out leaflets asking shoppers not to buy goods from West Bank settlements.

Police answered a call from the Aigburth Tesco Metro in south Liverpool just after 11am on the Saturday before last after the store's manager complained that protesters were disturbing customers.

But by the time officers arrived, the 10 pro-Palestinian activists were conducting a "peaceful demonstration" outside the store according to officers.

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