UK news

Scandal-hit financier Nicholas Levene in fraud probe

By Leon Symons, October 22, 2009

The firestorm surrounding financier and philanthropist Nicholas Levene intensified this week as allegations emerged concerning business dealings with leading Israeli sports people.

Mr Levene, 45, has been declared bankrupt and had his assets frozen after a number of legal claims against him from investors. He is also being pursued by at least one spread betting firm over gambling debts. It is understood that at the moment around £200 million is missing.


Bevis Marks activists vow to keep fighting

By Simon Rocker, October 22, 2009

Supporters of Rabbi Natan Asmoucha, who has left Bevis Marks Synagogue after nearly three months on suspension, remain determined to take Sephardi leaders to task for their handling of the affair.

A special meeting of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, which had been due yesterday to discuss a motion of no confidence in the mahamad (executive), has been postponed because of the postal strike.


Passenger seriously ill after El Al jet diverts

By Jessica Elgot, October 22, 2009

An El Al flight from Tel Aviv to London had to make an emergency landing in Athens after a passenger suffered a suspected heart attack.

El Al head office confirmed that the 10.15am flight from Tel Aviv to London was diverted to the Greek capital after the passenger became ill.

The passenger was treated onboard the flight by the El Al crew, and was hospitalised in Athens. The passenger is reportedly still in hospital, in a serious condition.

El Al head office denied rumours the passenger had died on board the plane.


Syrian ambassador: 'It's illegal to talk to Israelis'

By Bernard Josephs, October 22, 2009

As a journalist you know you are not going to get anywhere when an ambassador, shepherded by dark-suited aides, refuses to say anything — except that he won’t speak to you.

What seemed to worry Syrian Ambassador to Britain Dr Sami Khiyami was not that I might misquote him, but that I might have Israeli blood coursing through my veins.

Whether he was anxious to follow orders from Damascus is a moot point. But he made it clear that polite, or any sort of conversation, with even the most ordinary of Israeli citizens, was for His Excellency, simply a step too far.


Palestinians barred - but don’t blame Israel

By Leon Symons, October 22, 2009

When two Palestinian academics failed to reach a ground-breaking conference in London on the psychological effects of the Middle East conflict, Israel — for once — was not to blame.

Furious organisers of the conference at Birkbeck College, Sites of Conflict: Psycho-political Resistance in Palestine-Israel, held British consular officials in Jerusalem and Amman responsible for delays spanning six weeks which left the two unable to travel.


BBC uses Charedi picture to illustrate Jews

By Marcus Dysch, October 22, 2009

This is the image which the BBC has been using to illustrate how British Jews cope with grief.

The mocked-up picture ran alongside a feature on the corporation’s website giving practical tips on dealing with bereavement and explaining how different religions conduct funerals.

It was used on the page for months, but has now been replaced with a picture of a candle after the JC asked the corporation to explain why the image had been selected.

A BBC spokesman admitted the scale of its website meant mistakes occur but could offer no further explanation of why the image had been used.


Faith schools criticised for Middle East bias

By Jessica Elgot, October 22, 2009

Muslim schools are likely to use “inflammatory language” and bias when teaching pupils about the Middle East, an Ofsted report has found.

Inspectors visited 51 private faith schools to investigate the spiritual and cultural lessons that the schools provided. They found some schools displayed posters in favour of a certain religious or political group.

They also found that many of the schools used teaching materials which had incorrect information about other religions.


BNP banned from Parliament

October 21, 2009

Following action by John Mann MP and a vote in the House of Commons, MEPs including the BNP’s Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons will be denied Parliamentary passes and access to House of Commons facilities thus putting an end to a 20 year precedent.

Mr Mann’s early day motion was signed by dozens of parliamentary colleagues. It noted that while Euro MPs had traditionally been granted passes to the Houses of Parliament, the reverse was not true for UK MPs trying to access European parliamentary services.


BNP on Question Time: the chaos continues

By Jessica Elgot and Marcus Dysch, October 21, 2009

Last-ditch attempts to block the appearance of BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time tomorrow are being launched.

The Young Jewish Political Network will launch a Twitter protest about the appearance of the BNP leader on the BBC’s flagship political programme.

The group is asking followers to twitter the message #NoToTheBNP on the social networking site.

YJPN will also be tweeting messages in the hours leading up to the programme, listing the reasons why the far-right group is not representative of Britain.


Harold Evans slams Goldstone Report

By Simon Rocker, October 20, 2009

One of Britain’s most distinguished journalists has launched a fierce attack on the United Nations inquiry into the Gaza conflict headed by Judge Richard Goldstone.

Sir Harold Evans, editor of The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981, said in today’s Guardian that the judge had been “suckered into lending his good name to a half-baked report…