UK news

British JNF attacks Israel land scheme

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

JNF UK is challenging the planned transfer to the Israeli government of lands bought with money raised by diaspora Jews.

Samuel Hayek, chairman of the charity, described the arrangement, which is part of a land reform currently being hotly debated in the Knesset, as an “issue of concern”.

The controversy has arisen over the Israeli government’s wish to enable householders to own the freehold of their properties, rather than leasehold as at present.

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Board may seek law change over JFS row

By Leon Symons and Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

The Board of Deputies has launched a two-pronged strategy in the wake of the Court of Appeal’s decision that the admissions policy operated by the JFS school broke the Race Relations Act.

Deputies at Sunday’s plenary meeting in central London were told that if JFS sought leave to appeal to the House of Lords or the Supreme Court, which may take over responsibility for such matters, the Board would intervene as a “friend of the court” to give it guidance on “who is a Jew”.

The school has now decided to take such action.

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Faith groups attack usury

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

A campaign against excessive interest rates was launched with interfaith backing at Britain’s oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks, in the heart of the City of London on Wednesday.

Christian and Muslim representatives joined Rabbi Natan Asmoucha at the synagogue before setting off for a rally at Spitalfields, organised by the charity London Citizens.

Rabbi Asmoucha explained that the protest was not against lending as such but against “high interest rates which keep people from ever getting out of debt”.

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Board man urges ‘one conversion standard’

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

The senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies has called for a common standard of conversion to prevent a repeat of the JFS situation.

Jonathan Arkush, a modern Orthodox Jew who is a member of Borehamwood Synagogue, put forward the suggestion during a debate at Sunday’s Board plenary meeting in central London — and he won immediate support from president Vivian Wineman.

Mr Arkush, a barrister, was elected to the post in the May poll, the first time he has been one of the honorary officers.

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TV addicts reveal the joy of sets

By Fay Strang, July 23, 2009

Two Jewish technophiles have emerged as the owners and sellers of some of the oldest working TV sets in Britain.

Michael Bennett-Levy, 62, who lives just outside Edinburgh, is selling 24 pre-war television sets at a Bonhams auction in Knightsbridge in September.

His devotion to “Early Technology”, the name of his company, has led to the amassing of a glut of objects which are also going in the sale: “mechanical music, early typewriters, microscopes, telescopes, magic lanterns, irons, diesel engines... it is almost limitless”.

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Rabbi blasts Tories over Euro allies

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

A British rabbi has stepped into the controversy over the Conservatives’ allies in the European Parliament’s new centre-right group.

Rabbi Barry Marcus of London’s Central Synagogue has called into question the appointment of Polish MEP Michal Kaminski as chair of the European Conservative and Reformist Group (ECR), which now includes 25 MEPs from Britain’s Conservatives.

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You’re furred: Alan Sugar becomes a Lord

By Candice Krieger, July 23, 2009

Sir Alan Sugar took his seat in the House of Lords this week, as Lord Sugar of Clapton in the Borough of Hackney.

He was named as a member of the Upper House by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last month, and will now operate as an “enterprise czar” for the government.

Why Clapton? Lord Sugar, 62, said: “I struck my first business deals on the streets of Clapton as a 12-year-old boy by collecting lemonade bottles for the one penny deposits, and sitting on the main road asking for a penny for the guy.

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Heather Mills: eat kosher with me

By Marcus Dysch and Cecily Woolf, July 23, 2009

It can’t be easy bouncing back from a high-profile divorce and a personality-pounding from the national press — but Heather Mills may just have found a happy, and haimishe, distraction from it all.

Sir Paul McCartney’s ex-wife this week said she had applied to the London Beth Din in an attempt to secure kosher certification for her range of vegan products.

She plans to serve the food, including fake meat, chicken and fish, at a vegan café she has opened in Hove, East Sussex.

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Why war-driven hate is different this time

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

The Community Security Trust report for the first six months of 2009 will send a shiver through the Anglo-Jewish community.

The report confirmed — if confirmation were needed — what the CST has maintained for some time: that antisemitic incidents rise whenever there is major violence in the Middle East.

What distinguishes these figures from previous years is that they did not return to what the CST says is “normal” until April, three months after the fighting between Israel and Hamas ended.

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Gaza war sparks worst hate wave ever recorded

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

The Community Security Trust recorded more antisemitic incidents in the first six months of 2009 than it has done in any previous entire year.

Between January and June there were 609 incidents. In the whole of 2008 there were 544. The CST has never recorded more than 600 incidents in one year, let alone six months.

The main reason for the rise was the response to Israel’s incursion into Gaza.

The 609 incidents included 77 violent assaults, compared with 45 last year. Two of these, in May, were deemed to be extremely violent attacks, which might have involved a threat to life.

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