UK news

Top Muslim adviser in hate email 'stitch-up'

By Leon Symons, February 19, 2009

A senior government adviser on Muslim communities was the victim of a stitch-up, it was claimed this week.

Maqsood Ahmed, who is an adviser on extremism, works at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

According to a story in the Guardian at the weekend, he sent an email to several people saying that a number of Muslim websites critical of Islam were created by Jews with the aim of subverting the religion. Mr Ahmed was criticised by both Muslim and Jewish groups.

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Asylum-seeker saved from deportation by shul activists

By Simon Rocker, February 19, 2009

Swift action by synagogue members brought a last-minute halt to the deportation of a 62-year-old grandmother to the Democratic Republic of Congo last week.

Marie-Jeanne Elumba Ngolo, from Kinshasa, who has been in the UK for nine years, was a regular visitor to the New North London Synagogue’s drop-in centre for asylum-seekers.

But when she was suddenly arrested and told she was being sent back to her homeland, supporters of the centre lobbied the authorities and secured a temporary reprieve.

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Israeli cleared of rape

February 19, 2009

An Israeli man living in Golders Green, north London, has been cleared of rape following a week-long trial. Shay Kaldron, 33, was acquitted at Harrow Crown Court last Friday. He had denied one charge of attempted rape and another of sexual assault.

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Sex ads banned by ASA

February 19, 2009

Provocative roadside billboards advertising a male impotence aid have been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency. Two of the adverts were removed from Edgware, North-West London, in December after dozens of Jewish residents complained.

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GP under council inquiry

February 19, 2009

A former Israeli army doctor has denied acting inappropriately while working as a GP in England. A General Medical Council disciplinary panel is considering complaints against 50-year-old Paul Hirschowitz, who worked at a Scarborough surgery.

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British MEPs meet Hamas

By Jonathan Kalmus and Marcus Dysch, February 19, 2009

British lawmakers have met Hamas officials during a visit to Gaza.

Members of the European Parliament Palestine delegation travelled to Rafah last Thursday and Friday.

Chris Davies MEP said: “We asked for their reaction to the action last month and discussed their views on Palestinian re-unity and the possibility for a unity government. I can’t say we got very far.”

On Sunday, six MPs from the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group inspected Gazan sites damaged during the conflict.

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Community backing for Fair Trade

By Simon Rocker, February 19, 2009

The first national campaign launches next week to persuade Jews to buy fair trade goods.

It has been timed to run during Fairtrade Fortnight, the annual promotion by the Fairtrade Foundation, which labels approved products from Third World exporters.

The campaign has the backing of a wide coalition of groups across the religious spectrum, including the United Synagogue, the Reform, Liberal and Masorti movements, the UJIA, the Jewish Community Centre (JCC), the Board of Deputies, Tzedek and the Pears Foundation.

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National's Hytner says no censorship

By Marcus Dysch, February 19, 2009

The director of the National Theatre has defended two plays which have drawn criticism for perceived antisemitic and racist undertones.

Nicholas Hytner said it was not the theatre’s role to censor the views of playwrights, and denied that flyers for one of the plays had accused Israel of “atrocities” during last month’s conflict in Gaza.

Burnt by the Sun is set in 1936 Soviet Russia ahead of Stalin’s great purges and follows a Red Army veteran’s life at his dacha outside Moscow.

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Manchester students lose boycott motion

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 13, 2009

A motion to boycott Israeli goods and condemn Israel’s Gaza operation as an “atrocity” has been passed at Manchester University’s Student Union.

In an emergency general meeting on Wednesday afternoon, 550 students voted for the motion, defeating 200 voting against.

The motion will mean the union now resolves to boycott “all companies that support or benefit from the Israeli occupation” and will lobby the university to take similar action.

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Lieberman's success horrifies UK leaders

By Simon Rocker, February 12, 2009

The electoral success of Avigdor Lieberman’s right-wing party, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel, Our Home) in Tuesday’s Israeli elections has caused consternation among British Jews.

The party emerged as Israel’s third most popular, winning a projected 15 seats. It wants a compulsory oath of loyalty by all Israeli citizens and the transfer of heavily populated Arab areas of Israel to the Palestinian Authority in return for the annexation of West Bank settlements.

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