UK news

Limmud: ex-defence chief assesses Gaza

By Simon Rocker, December 31, 2008

The idea that armies should use proportionate force was dismissed by a former director of military intelligence for the Israel Defence Forces at a special session on Gaza at the Limmud conference.

General Yaacov Amidror said: “The advantage Israel has, is only because it can react disproportionately.”

From a military perspective, he added: “The only way to deal with such a situation is to react without taking into consideration proportionality… otherwise you will lose before you begin.”


How community fared in honours list

By Marcus Dysch, December 31, 2008

Charity volunteers, entrepreneurs and Holocaust survivors are among the Jewish recipients of New Year’s Honours announced today.

Jenny Abramsky, former director of BBC audio and music, is created a dame for services to broadcasting. Currently chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Heritage Memorial Fund, she said: “I'm thrilled because I believe this honour recognises the importance of radio in this country.”

She was made a CBE in 2001. Her father, Chimen, was a renowned professor of Jewish studies, and her mother, Miriam, a leading social worker.


Protestors target embassy

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 31, 2008

The Israeli Embassy was repeatedly targeted this week by demonstrators, who accused Israel of carrying out a “Holocaust in Gaza”.


Skverer Chasid set to face extradition in fraud case

By Leon Symons, December 31, 2008

A member of the US-based Skverer strictly Orthodox community, on the run for 11 years to avoid multi-million dollar fraud charges, will know later this month if he is to be extradited to stand trial.

Avrum David Friesel, 56, was arrested at the end of April in Chardmore Road, Stamford Hill, London, by British police helped by United States marshals. He has been awaiting a decision on his extradition since then.


Pinter, a friend who became Israel’s critic

By Bernard Josephs, December 31, 2008

The Nobel Prize winning playwright Harold Pinter, whose death at 78 was announced on December 24, was recalled this week as an early friend and supporter of Israel, despite latterly being known as one of the country’s strongest Jewish critics.

The Hackney-born playwright was a founder member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and backed the boycotting of Israeli produce. He was also a sharp critic of George Bush and Tony Blair, branding the Iraq war as a “bandit act” and a war crime.


Survivors denounce hoax Holocaust book

December 31, 2008

Holocaust survivors have expressed outrage over a book by a former Buchenwald inmate about love and life in the camp which turned out to be more fiction than fact.

One survivor, Ben Helfgott, who spent years in camps with the author, Herman Rosenblat, said the book, Angel At The Fence, provided ammunition to Holocaust deniers.


Smart move

December 31, 2008

Smarties are kosher once more. They have been off-limits to kosher consumers since the early 1990s when the then makers, Rowntree, informed the Beth Din that red Smarties were coloured with insect-derived cochineal. Now that non-kosher carminic acid has been removed, the London Beth Din says Smarties are now permitted.


Ahmadinejad Xmas speech has C4 under fire

By Marcus Dysch, December 31, 2008

Channel 4 has defended its invitation to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deliver its alternative Christmas message.

In his speech, Mr Ahmadinejad claimed society faced a range of moral, political and security crises.


Can’t pay? Then you will miss Maccabiah

By Marcus Dysch, December 31, 2008

The mother of a 15-year-old girl thrown out of a Maccabi GB basketball team over a financial disagreement, has accused Maccabi of acting “outrageously”. Ofra Azar-Freedman had told Maccabi that she would struggle to meet the £2,750 fee to be paid for each Maccabiah competitor as she is recovering from an emergency operation and has been unable to work.


Top speakers’ pullout fails to dent Limmud

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2008

The crisis in Gaza forced the withdrawal of Mark Regev, international media adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel, from the Limmud winter conference which opened at Warwick University near Coventry on Sunday.

Along with Mr Regev, Kadima MK Menachem Ben-Sasson also pulled out at the last minute because of the latest events at home.

Elliott Goldstein, chair of Limmud, said: “Obviously, we are sorry they can’t join us. But we still have nearly 100 presenters at the conference from Israel speaking on a huge range of topics, including the unfolding situation.”