UK news

UK Jews more tied to Israel than American Jews

By Simon Rocker, July 22, 2010

Jews in the UK feel more attached to Israel than those in the United States, according to one of the leading academic experts on diaspora Jewry.

"UK Jewry is far more connected to Israel than American Jewry," said Professor Steven Cohen, research professor of Jewish social policy at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.


Liverpool synagogue hit by floods

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 22, 2010

Flood waters seriously damaged parts of Liverpool's Childwall Synagogue this week after torrential downpours left large parts of the city under water and many main roads closed.

The shul's Harris Polak and Aida Shifrin halls were filled with two inches of water as Tuesday's rains led to the collapse of a ceiling over one of the rooms.

Overflow from drains, which struggled to cope, brought more water into the Childwall building, which sits 20ft below street level.


Protests over Dawkins faith school film

By Robyn Rosen, July 22, 2010

The Board of Deputies and a Jewish primary school have pulled out of a film about faith schools by controversial atheist Richard Dawkins, after parents protested.

Barnes Hassid Productions approached the Board in June about the documentary, due to air in August on More 4 and Channel 4.

Jonathan Arkush, senior vice-president of the Board, agreed to be interviewed, together with education representatives from the Church of England and the Association of Muslim Schools.


BNP's Nick Griffin barred from Palace

By Jennifer Lipman, July 22, 2010

The BNP leader has been refused entry to this afternoon’s garden party at Buckingham Palace after officials decided his attendance would present too much of a danger to the other guests.

As a member of the European Parliament, Nick Griffin was due to be among the 8000 guests at the Queen’s annual event. But in an eleventh hour reversal Buckingham Palace announced he was to be denied access for politicising his invitation.

A Palace spokesman said the about-turn came because Mr Griffin had “overtly used his personal invitation for party political purpose through the media.”


Berkoff v Finkelstein: row over Jewish law

By Jennifer Lipman, July 22, 2010

Two high profile Jewish writers are engaged in a public dispute over the purpose of religious law.

Actor Steven Berkoff has accused Daniel Finkelstein of making “a sad reduction” of Jewish ritual and suggested his comments would make sense only to someone who “came from another planet.”


Official: war crimes law to be changed

July 22, 2010

The Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, announced today that the coalition government will act “at the first opportunity” to change the law on universal jurisdiction for war crimes.

It will table a legislative amendment which will require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be issued, in response to any private prosecution for war crimes.

It is expected that the amendment will be introduced in September, when Parliament returns from its summer recess.


Clarke: action soon on universal jurisdiction

By Marcus Dysch, July 21, 2010

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has promised that the government will address a law allowing private prosecutors to issue arrest warrants for visiting Israelis “in the very near future”.

Responding to a question on altering universal jurisdiction law by Hendon MP Matthew Offord, Mr Clarke described the current situation as “unsatisfactory”.

He said: “We are urgently considering how to proceed and expect to make an announcement shortly.


Open verdict for Egyptian Mossad 'spy' death

By Jennifer Lipman, July 21, 2010

A coroner has said there was “no evidence” that an Egyptian businessman accused of being a Mossad spy was murdered by Israel.

Coroner Dr William Dolman at Westminster Coroners' Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence of unlawful killing or suicide for the death of Dr Ashraf Marwan in Britain in 2007.

But, recording an open verdict, Dr Dolman acknowledged that there were still “many unanswered questions”.

Dr Marwan’s widow said she still believed the 62-year-old millionaire, found dead by the fourth-floor balcony of his London home, had been pushed.


Hurndall father wants Hague meeting

By Jennifer Lipman, July 20, 2010

The father of a British activist shot in the Gaza Strip has said he wants to meet the Foreign Secretary to discuss the British government's "weak response" to his killer’s early release.

Tom Hurndall was shot while volunteering in Rafah for the International Solidarity Movement in 2003. In 2005 the man responsible, a former Israeli soldier called Taysir-al-Heib, was jailed for eight years for the “unlawful killing”.


The barmitzvah that had everything

By Jennifer Lipman, July 20, 2010

There was a barmitzvah on the BBC on Monday evening as the channel aired a programme about lavish children’s birthday parties, featuring a Jewish family from Chigwell in Essex.

Guy Colman’s party at the Four Seasons Hotel in London was one of four celebrations included in the programme “My Child's Big Fat Birthday Party”.

Others were a cowboy-themed party for an eight-year-old and a winter wonderland affair with live reindeers.

Thirteen-year-old Guy was barmitzvah in October 2009 at Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue, where he read a portion from Lech Lecha.