UK news

UK says scholarships for Israelis prove its anti-boycott stance

July 23, 2009

Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Tom Phillips, said this week that the new group of Chevening scholars — Israeli postgraduates going to study in the UK — were “living evidence” of the UK government’s robust response to the academic boycott of Israel.

This year there are 12 talented young Israelis — seven men and five women — who have been awarded British scholarships enabling them to study in universities all over the UK this coming academic year.

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Embassy names its press attache

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 23, 2009

The new press attaché to the Israeli Embassy in London will be Amir Ofek, a 43-year old career diplomat.

Mr Ofek, a former infantry officer and graduate of Tel Aviv University, joined the Foreign Ministry’s cadet course in 1995 on the “communications and culture” track. His main foreign postings have been as first secretary at the embassy in Chile, and consul for public afairs at the New York consulate. He also served shorter periods in Belarus, El Salvador and Georgia.

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TV-ban school challenged by local council

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

Bury Council has challenged the admissions policy of a state-aided strictly Orthodox primary school which stipulates that parents should not have TV sets at home.

The council declined to go into details about its objection to the entry criteria of Yesoiday Hatorah (formerly Prestwich Jewish Day School).

But a spokesman for the Lancashire authority said: “During the consultation on admission arrangements for 2010, we highlighted our objections regarding the draft policies of Yesoiday Hatorah Primary School. However, the determined policies were not altered.

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Israel envoy lauds Christian groups

By James Martin, July 23, 2009

Israeli ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor has thanked Israel’s Christian friends for their “constant support of the state of Israel in difficult times”.

In a unique event at the ambassador’s residence this week, Mr Prosor told more than 50 representatives of British Christian groups: “At a time when our enemies are getting louder in the UK, we truly appreciate the backing from another religious group.”

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Shoah email sackings

By Marcus Dysch, July 23, 2009

Four council workers have been sacked for sending antisemitic emails comparing Israel’s operations in Gaza to the Holocaust.

Five other staff members received written warnings and have since returned to work at Lancashire County Council.

The office workers were suspended in April after the messages were discovered on the authority’s email accounts. The council said the staff had both sent and received “highly inappropriate emails”.

The sacked staff are appealing against the decision.

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British JNF attacks Israel land scheme

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

JNF UK is challenging the planned transfer to the Israeli government of lands bought with money raised by diaspora Jews.

Samuel Hayek, chairman of the charity, described the arrangement, which is part of a land reform currently being hotly debated in the Knesset, as an “issue of concern”.

The controversy has arisen over the Israeli government’s wish to enable householders to own the freehold of their properties, rather than leasehold as at present.

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Board may seek law change over JFS row

By Leon Symons and Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

The Board of Deputies has launched a two-pronged strategy in the wake of the Court of Appeal’s decision that the admissions policy operated by the JFS school broke the Race Relations Act.

Deputies at Sunday’s plenary meeting in central London were told that if JFS sought leave to appeal to the House of Lords or the Supreme Court, which may take over responsibility for such matters, the Board would intervene as a “friend of the court” to give it guidance on “who is a Jew”.

The school has now decided to take such action.

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Faith groups attack usury

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

A campaign against excessive interest rates was launched with interfaith backing at Britain’s oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks, in the heart of the City of London on Wednesday.

Christian and Muslim representatives joined Rabbi Natan Asmoucha at the synagogue before setting off for a rally at Spitalfields, organised by the charity London Citizens.

Rabbi Asmoucha explained that the protest was not against lending as such but against “high interest rates which keep people from ever getting out of debt”.

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Board man urges ‘one conversion standard’

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

The senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies has called for a common standard of conversion to prevent a repeat of the JFS situation.

Jonathan Arkush, a modern Orthodox Jew who is a member of Borehamwood Synagogue, put forward the suggestion during a debate at Sunday’s Board plenary meeting in central London — and he won immediate support from president Vivian Wineman.

Mr Arkush, a barrister, was elected to the post in the May poll, the first time he has been one of the honorary officers.

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TV addicts reveal the joy of sets

By Fay Strang, July 23, 2009

Two Jewish technophiles have emerged as the owners and sellers of some of the oldest working TV sets in Britain.

Michael Bennett-Levy, 62, who lives just outside Edinburgh, is selling 24 pre-war television sets at a Bonhams auction in Knightsbridge in September.

His devotion to “Early Technology”, the name of his company, has led to the amassing of a glut of objects which are also going in the sale: “mechanical music, early typewriters, microscopes, telescopes, magic lanterns, irons, diesel engines... it is almost limitless”.

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