UK news

Foreign Office man bailed

By Leon Symons, May 12, 2009

A senior Foreign Office civil servant has been charged with racially aggravated harassment and bailed to appear at City of Westminster magistrates’ court next week.

Rowan Laxton, 48, of Cleveland Square, Bayswater, has been charged under sections of the Public Order Act 1986 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Mr Laxton was arrested in January following an incident in a gymnasium in Regent’s Park. He is head of the South Asia group at the Foreign Office.

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Counter-terror plans under way

By Jonathan Kalmus, May 11, 2009

A counter-terrorism strategy aimed at encouraging Manchester’s Jewish community to report suspected terror activity is being developed. It may include opening terrorism reporting facilities locally in Jewish offices and a kosher bakery.

More than 30 people, including counter-terrorism police officers and community members, met at a closed meeting hosted by the Community Security Trust. It was organised by the Greater Manchester Police Authority, the watchdog which oversees policing in the region, as part of an ongoing consultation project to engage the public’s help.

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Embassy clashes: more held

By Leon Symons, May 8, 2009

Another six men have been arrested in connection with demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy in west London in January.

This brings to 93 the total number of people held in connection with a number of offences alleged to have been committed in two protests held on January 3 and 10 about Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The arrests were part of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Ute and were carried out by a team created to investigate the disturbances that took place, which included attacks on police officers and a number of shop windows being smashed.

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Oxford blocks Neturei talk

By Marcus Dysch, May 7, 2009

A lecture by the leader of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect was relocated after Oxford University’s largest graduate college refused to let him speak on campus.

Ahron Cohen was the guest speaker at the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford’s (MECO) monthly forum on Thursday last week.

The event had been due to take place at Wolfson College but was relocated to a private venue after the college cancelled the booking.

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Royal Court in squabble over new Gaza play

By Jenni Frazer, May 7, 2009

A new spat has broken out following the staging of controversial Royal Court play Seven Jewish Children, by Caryl Churchill.

A non-Jewish writer, Richard Stirling, wrote his own response, Seven Other Children, which opened this week at Hampstead’s New End Theatre.

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Islam Channel used to ‘promote intolerance’

By Marcus Dysch, May 7, 2009

Programmes on a leading Muslim television channel have been hosted by Islamists and members of the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir, a counter-extremist think-tank has claimed.

Islam Channel is the largest satellite station aimed at British and European Muslims. The Quilliam Foundation said it was being used to promote “intolerant and bigoted interpretations of Islam”.

A spokesman for the channel said it would not be responding to the foundation’s claims.

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Jew on banned list to sue for defamation

By Leon Symons, May 7, 2009

A controversial Jewish-American radio host has threatened to sue the government after he appeared on a Home Office list of people banned from entering Britain.

Michael Savage, whose real name is Michael Weiner, was described by the Anti-Defamation League as an “equal-opportunities offender — he offends Jews, blacks, gays and the disabled in equal measure”.

His name was one of 16 that appeared on the first-ever list of people excluded for stirring up extremism or hatred to be published by the Home Office.

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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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