UK news

FCO stumbles on Hizbollah policy

By Daniella Peled - Foreign Editor, March 5, 2009

There appeared to be confusion in the Foreign Office this week after Middle East minister Bill Rammell announced a ‘new’ policy regarding Hizbollah — despite the policy having been in place since July 2008.

Mr Rammell told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that the government had “reconsidered” its position towards the Shia group.

“Our over-riding objective is to pressure Hizbollah to play a more constructive role and move away from violence,” he told the committee on Wednesday.

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West Bank link halts embassy relocation

By James Martin and Anshel Pfeffer, March 5, 2009

Britain's embassy in Tel Aviv has abandoned plans to move to new premises over concerns that the building’s owners are involved in unlawful construction on the West Bank.

It is said the embassy pulled out of the £90,000-a-year deal to relocate from Hayarkon Street to a floor on Africa-Israel’s Kirya Tower after British ambassador Tom Phillips became aware of Africa-Israel’s involvement in West Bank construction projects.

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Charity watchdog attacks Interpal

By Simon Rocker, February 27, 2009

The Charity Commission has criticised the charity Interpal and ordered it to cut ties with an organisation headed by the radical cleric Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

After a two-year inquiry, the commission said that Interpal’s trustees had “not adequately fulfilled their duties and responsibilities” in monitoring where their money was spent, in a report published today.

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Producer Chinn scoops Oscar for Man on Wire

By Leon Symons, February 26, 2009

The son of one of Anglo-Jewry’s longest-serving leaders has won an Oscar with his first documentary.

Simon Chinn, son of Sir Trevor and Lady Chinn, took the best documentary category at the annual awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday night for the film he produced, Man On Wire.

The film is about a 1974 incident dubbed the “artistic crime of the century”, when Frenchman Philippe Petit walked a tightrope stretched between the Twin Towers, then the world’s tallest buildings.

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Shoah-denying bishop barred from preaching in UK

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2009

Richard Williamson, the maverick bishop who has denied the Holocaust, cannot officiate in Catholic churches in Britain, its representatives stressed, following his return here from Argentina on Wednesday.

The English-born cleric was at the centre of an international controversy after Pope Benedict XVI lifted an excommunication order against him. But last week, the Argentinian authorities gave him 10 days to leave the country, where he had headed a seminary in Buenos Aires.

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I'll play in Britain before Avram, says Mrs Grant

By Simon Griver, February 26, 2009

Israeli football coach Avram Grant might be tipped for a return to the Premier League, but his actress wife could be back before him. Tzofit Grant has written her first play — in English — and is in negotiations to stage it in London this year.

She said: “The play is based on the world of oligarchs in London that I saw in the year Avram was at Chelsea. It is about women, money and power. It touches on the women who surround men who seem to control half of the world.”

However, she insists, none of the characters are based on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

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JFS entry policy is challenged

By Simon Rocker, February 26, 2009

A legal battle over the right of Jewish schools to define who is a Jew is to be heard by the Court of Appeal.

The case is being brought on behalf of a boy known as “M”, who was turned down by the JFS Comprehensive in Kenton, north London in September 2007 because his mother is a Progressive convert.

After a four-day hearing in March last year, Mr Justice Munby upheld the United Synagogue school’s right to reject applicants who do not meet the Orthodox definition of Jewish status.

He ruled that its entry policy did not breach race relations law.

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Catwalk keeps kosher

By Jan Shure, February 26, 2009

There was an abundance of Jewish design talent at London Fashion Week, with designers revealing their creative ability in fashion-forward clothing and desirable accessories for autumn/winter 2010.

With a ravishing collection shown at London’s Royal Opera House, Nicole Farhi — doyenne of British fashion and the UK’s highest profile Jewish designer — demonstrated her ability to reinvent herself for a new, younger clientele with an immaculate, colourful collection that had more than a touch of 1940s Hollywood glamour.

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No answers to questions on JNF funds

By Leon Symons, February 26, 2009

A row has broken out between JNF UK, some of its donors and a charity in Israel, over $1 million (£687,778) in donations.

Project Or, a non-governmental organisation founded nine years ago to build and develop new communities in the Negev and Galilee, has claimed that JNF has not passed on the money, which was pledged at a dinner at Claridges in January 2007.

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Board reaches out to repair faith relations

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

An Islamic community centre will host a major Jewish exhibition as interfaith groups attempt to repair relations in the aftermath of the Gaza conflict.

The Board of Deputies’ Jewish Way of Life exhibition will be held at the centre in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in the spring.

At a meeting on Tuesday, members of the London Jewish Forum, synagogue bodies and the Board reaffirmed their dedication to developing stronger ties with the Muslim community.

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