UK news

Tonge defiant over fascist link

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

Liberal Democratic peer Baroness Tonge is to attend a pro-Palestinian conference from which she had been asked by an anti-racist group to withdraw.

The anti-BNP Nothing British group called on her to pull out of the event organised by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in London over an apparent invitation to the far-right Hungarian MP Kristina Morvai.

Baroness Tonge, confirming her attendance this week, said: “Ms Morvai is not attending the conference. I understand the invitation was never issued formally.”


Channel 4 defends Israel lobby probe

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

Channel 4’s flagship investigations programme, Dispatches, is to probe what it calls “one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain” — the pro-Israel lobby.

The political columnist Peter Oborne is to front an hour-long broadcast, Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, due to be broadcast on Monday week.

The hard-hitting documentary strand has been responsible for such programmes as Undercover Mosque two years ago, which included covert filming of Islamist extremists preaching in British mosques.


Simon Mann's family is 'overjoyed' at release

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

The family of freed British mercenary Simon Mann have thanked the president of Equatorial Guinea for pardoning the 57-year-old.

The former SAS soldier had been sentenced to 34 years in jail for his role in a coup plot in the oil-rich African nation. He was freed by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema on Tuesday.

In a statement, Mr Mann’s Jewish wife, Amanda, said: “Everyone is profoundly grateful to the president and the government of Equatorial Guinea.

“The whole family is overjoyed at the prospect of finally welcoming Simon home after five-and-a-half long years away.”


Last piano-maker in UK closes down

By Leon Symons, November 5, 2009

The last piano-maker in Britain, which started life in the heart of north London’s Jewish community, has closed its doors just 18 months short of its centenary.

Michael Kemble started Kemble and Co in Stoke Newington in 1903 and now his grandson, Brian, has completed the last two pianos to be made in the UK — literally. He put the last strings in the last piano himself.

Now production has been taken over by the Japanese company Yamaha, with which Kemble has worked since 1968.


BBC under fire over 'antisemitic' material

By Robyn Rosen, November 5, 2009

Two complaints have been upheld against the BBC for “antisemitic” comments and “biased” material against Israel.

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) found that an item on the BBC news website, entitled “London summit on Jewish refugees” gave a “misleading impression” that Jews are treated equally in Muslim countries when, in fact, they are discriminated against.


Good times over as JNF seeks cash from Iceland

By Simon Rocker, November 5, 2009

The UK’s third biggest fundraising Jewish charity retains hopes of eventually recovering £375,000 that was caught up in the Icelandic banking crisis.

JNF UK deposited the money with a UK subsidiary of Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank, Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander, which went into administration last year.

Samuel Hayek, JNF chairman, said: “We have had confirmation from the administrators that at least 60-75 per cent will be recovered. But we are hopeful that all the money will be recovered.”


JNF to plant 25,000 trees in Chief Rabbi's honour

November 5, 2009

British JNF will mark the Chief Rabbi’s peerage by planting a forest of 25,000 trees in Jerusalem in Lord Sacks’s name, it announced this week.

Members of the Jewish community in Britain and the Commonwealth can participate either by buying a single tree for £10 or as many trees as they wish, in order to pay tribute to the Chief Rabbi.

The name of every donor will be inscribed in a specially designed hand-written megillah, a copy of which will be presented to the Chief Rabbi at a dedication ceremony in Israel next February.


Cherie Blair launches £200k Galilee school project

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

Cherie Blair visited Israel this week and opened a study course for women in Galilee.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women has donated £200,000 to support an economics and management programme for Jewish and Arab students at the Western Galilee College, in Acre.

The course is being taken by 22 students from Jewish, Muslim, Druze and Christian backgrounds.It offers computer workshops and internships in Israeli and international companies.

The former Prime Minister’s wife visited the college, which is also supported by the UJIA, on Wednesday.


Analysis: On Goldstone, UN plays semantics

By Martin Bright, November 5, 2009

So in the end it all hinged on semantics. As the 192-nation UN General Assembly met on Wednesday to debate the Goldstone Report on the Gaza war, the central issue for the UK government was whether the resolution under discussion was to be “welcomed”, “endorsed” or “noted”.


BNP praises Israel minister on foreigners

By Martin Bright and Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

The British National Party has leapt on comments by Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, to suggest that the extreme-right party shares a common immigration policy with Israel.

Mr Yishai claimed that foreign workers brought diseases into Israel and that their presence threatened the Jewish and Zionist identity of the state.

He also attacked cabinet colleagues who were in favour of allowing the children of illegal foreign workers to remain in Israel.