UK news

Anger over Gaza flotilla forum

By Marcus Dysch, July 15, 2010

An interfaith forum which will debate the Gaza flotilla incident and assess its impact on religious groups has sparked an angry response from a Jewish community.

The Building the Bridge (BtB ) initiative in Bristol will assess the flotilla's impact and use discussion groups for people to "share their views and experiences".

The initiative works with the government's Prevent counter-terrorism strategy and is funded by Bristol City Council.


UK accused of hypocrisy over spy case

By Robyn Rosen, July 15, 2010

The British government has been accused of "double standards" following its reaction to allegations that Russian spies used forged British and Irish passports.

During the trial of 10 Russians who admitted to being spies last month, US Department of Justice papers claimed that one of them, Tracey Foley, "travelled on a fraudulent British passport prepared for her by the SVR [Russia's foreign intelligence agency]".

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We are looking into the links with Britain and are in contact with the US authorities".


I was 17 and surviving in the wild, but I'd fled humanity at its worst

By Naftali Schiff, July 15, 2010

It was not just any trip to Poland's concentration camps. One of the most powerful visits ever made to Treblinka, Sobibor and Auschwitz took place last week, in the run-up to Tisha b'Av.

The visit brought together three survivors: 86-year-old Eddie Weinstein, the only able-bodied survivor to have escaped the Treblinka death camp still alive today; Thomas (Toivi) Blatt, 83, the only survivor of Sobibor able to give first-hand testimony today; and Eva Neuman, 82, from Manchester.


Conflict of interest is not an issue here

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

Most British Jews feel no conflict between their ties to Israel and their British citizenship.

Two thirds, 66 per cent, said they had experienced no conflict of loyalty, while 28 per cent did (though only seven per cent felt this strongly).

However, 63 per cent felt that they were held responsible for Israel's actions by non-Jews.

Those living in densely-populated Jewish areas in London felt more comfortable than those living in other parts of the country, including the north of England and Scotland.


Israel attitudes survey: There is much that divides us

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

Against the broad swathe of general support for Israel, British Jews diverge often sharply over specific policies.

Those who call themselves Zionist "are not always firm supporters of Israeli government policy", the report says. "It is clear…that one cannot assume that all of those labelling themselves Zionist are hawkish."

Whereas 50 per cent of Jews currently believe that Israeli control of the West Bank is vital for its security, 40 per cent do not.

While 55 per cent agree that Israel is an "occupying power" in the West Bank, 36 per cent dissent from that view.


Israel attitudes survey: Most are happy to be Zionists

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

British Jews display a "great attachment" to Israel, with a mere five per cent believing it irrelevant to their Jewish identity, according to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) report published this week.

The strong place that Israel retains in Anglo-Jewish hearts is evident from the fact that 29 per cent say it is central to their identity; 53 per cent, that it is "important but not central"; and 13 per cent that it plays "a small part".

An overwhelming majority, 95 per cent, have visited Israel at least once, compared to 78 per cent who has done so in 1995.


Curious case of demonstrators who wanted invisibility

By Lucy Morris, July 15, 2010

It was a demonstration with a curious ambition: to be invisible.

On Tuesday, nearly 500 anti-Zionist strictly Orthodox Jews staged a mass protest outside the Israeli Embassy, complete with loudspeakers and a sea of banners. The "True Torah Jews" had sent two long press releases and phoned the JC to alert us of their intention to demonstrate against plans to build on an ancient burial ground in Israel.


UK Jewish bond with Israel is strong as ever

By Simon Rocker, July 15, 2010

The vast majority of British Jews remain committed to the state of Israel while divided over its policies on peace and security, according to what is claimed to be the most definitive survey on the subject.

Ninety per cent regard Israel as the "ancestral homeland" of the Jewish people, 87 per cent believe Jews have a "special responsibility" to ensure its survival, and 72 per cent consider themselves Zionists.

But differences become apparent on more detailed political questions: 52 per cent think the Israeli government should negotiate with Hamas, compared with 39 per cent against.


Call for re-trial after 'shocking' summing-up

By Marcus Dysch, July 15, 2010

The full transcript has been revealed for the first time of a judge's summing-up in the trial of seven anti-Israel activists acquitted of damaging an arms factory.

Judge George Bathurst-Norman had told the jury at Lewes Crown Court that the group's leader should be awarded the George Cross for his campaign.

The group were cleared last month of causing £180,000 of damage to the EDO MBM factory in Brighton after they claimed they had acted "to prevent Israeli war crimes".

The company denied ever supplying Israel with arms equipment.


Gaza protesters' sentences cut

By Simon Rocker, July 13, 2010

The Court of Appeal has reduced the prison sentences of a number of people who pleaded guilty to violent disorder in protests against Israel’s incursion into Gaza outside the Israeli embassy in London.

The judges cut the prison terms in some instances from two years to 18 months, and from 18 months to 10 in others: in one instance, they quashed a 12-month jail sentence and replaced it with a community order, citing an “inexcusable” delay in bringing the man to court.

Eight appeals for reduced sentences were accepted, two were dismissed.