UK news

Ex- ambassador criticises Jews on Iraq inquiry

By Jessica Elgot, November 23, 2009

The former British ambassador to Libya, Sir Oliver Miles, has criticised the appointment of two leading Jews to the Iraq inquiry.

Sir Oliver drew attention to the appointment of Holocaust historian and Winston Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert, and the war historian and ‘Blair doctrine’ architect Sir Lawrence Freedman, who advocated humanitarian intervention in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The two men will be made privy counsellors in order to sit on the inquiry committee.


UK Jewish Film Festival: the finale

By Jessica Elgot, November 20, 2009

The UK Jewish Film Festival drew to a close this week, with the screening of Hello Goodbye and the presentation of The Shoresh Charitable Prize.

Israeli comedy A Matter of Size together with documentary film ‘Praying with Lior’ have won the award, which was voted by the festival audiences.


Rabbi took kosher food to five-day coke binge

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 20, 2009

Admitting to snorting large quantities of cocaine and having sex with prostitutes, a rabbi accused of running a cocaine supply business told a court that he had taken kosher food with him to eat during a five-day drug binge at the Manchester city centre apartment where he was arrested.

Rabbi Baruch Chalomish has pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing cocaine, but denies two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to supply. He stands co-accused with a convicted drug dealer, Nasir Abbas, who has failed to attend the trial and is being tried in his absence.


Gordon Brown: I'm backing Stacey Solomon

By Jessica Elgot, November 20, 2009

Gordon Brown has revealed that he and his family are backing Stacey Solomon to win The X Factor.

The Prime Minister threw his support behind the Dagenham diva, who is the only girl left in the competition, after the controversial departure of Welsh warbler Lucie Jones.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, Mr Brown said he had been impressed by Stacey, before adding that he wished all the singers well, claiming he watches the show with his wife Sarah and sons John and Fraser.


Mendel Kaplan dies

By Jessica Elgot, November 20, 2009

The South African industrialist Mendel Kaplan, former chairman of the Jewish Agency's board of governors, has died aged 73.

Mr Kaplan, who made his fortune in steel works, suffered a stroke at his home in Cape Town.

He was known for his devotion to Jewish and Zionist causes, as honorary president of Keren Hayesod and a former chairman of World Jewish Congress’ executive committee.

He also founded the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town in 1980, and the South African Jewish Museum, which was opened by Nelson Mandela in 2000.


Martial arts group denies Nazi clothing

By Marcus Dysch, November 19, 2009

A leading mixed-martial arts group has distanced itself from a clothing company which features Nazi-style images on its products.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship held a tournament in Manchester on Saturday night at which a number of fighters wore Hoelzer Reich items.

The sport is growing quickly on both sides of the Atlantic as an alternative attraction for boxing and wrestling fans. British fighters Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy were among those on the bill at the MEN Arena.

Hoelzer Reich’s clothes feature Iron Crosses and swastika and SS-style emblems.


Footballer banned for racial abuse

By Marcus Dysch and Danny Caro, November 19, 2009

A Maccabi Premier Division footballer who racially abused a fellow Jewish player has been fined and banned from football for six months.

Ashley Rubin called opposition striker Virgil Levy, who is of South American origin, “Paki” and told him during a game in April that he did not belong in the community or in the league.


New survey: do you fly the flag for Israel?

By Simon Rocker, November 19, 2009

The first full national survey on how British Jews feel about Israel is to be carried out early next year.

It has been commissioned by the Pears Foundation, one of the major family trusts supporting Jewish causes, and will be undertaken by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR).

Though such surveys are fairly routine in the United States, they remain a rarity among British Jews.

JPR published some information on British Jewish feelings towards Israel 13 years ago, but this was based on a few questions which formed part of a broader survey of social attitudes.


Israeli police to get lessons in UK

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

Sixteen senior Israeli policemen are being brought to Britain to take part in a special training programme to improve their relations with the country’s Arab citizens.

The brigadier-generals, one of whom may become the head of the Israeli police force, will spend five days at the end of November with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and four days with the Metropolitan Police in London.

The trip has been organised by the Abraham Fund Initiative (AFI), which is dedicated to improving co-existence between Israelis and Arabs living in Israel.


Legal battle over convert's Jewish status

By James Martin, November 19, 2009

The head of a legal team fighting to restore a convert’s status as a halachically recognised Jew has warned Jerusalem’s High Rabbinical Court that there would be a “war of the titans” if it did not revoke a judgment that he had never been Jewish.

Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Centre, spoke after the court postponed an appeal hearing against a decision by the Jerusalem Beth Din to rescind Yossi Fackenheim’s Orthodox conversion.