UK news

Colonel’s UK tour halted by arrest fear

By Leon Symons Marcus Dysch and Anshel Pfeffer, February 5, 2009

An Israeli reserve colonel who came to speak in Britain last week was forced to return home.

The officer, Geva Rapp, a deputy commander of Israel’s Gaza offensive, was scheduled to speak to mainly student audiences during a six-day visit.

But his tour came to an abrupt end after details of last Thursday’s event at the London Jewish student centre leaked out on the internet.


Israel's case ignored in secret government memo

By Leon Symons, February 5, 2009

An internal UK government briefing note on Israel’s recent action in Gaza is written almost entirely from the Palestinian perspective.

The two-and-a-half page private memo was prepared by the Foreign Office and the Home Office’s research and information unit. It is headed: “The British government position on the situation in Gaza”. It contains only two mentions of Hamas and gives no explanation or context as to how or why Israel launched its operation on December 27.


Muslim peer in ‘student war’ slur

By Marcus Dysch, February 5, 2009

A Muslim peer has claimed that student societies are recruiting young British Jews to join the Israeli army. They fought, he said, in last month’s Gaza conflict and should be prosecuted for war crimes on their return to this country.

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham said student unions had been “actively recruiting young people in Britain to join the Israeli Defence Force”.

British citizens had, he claimed, “gone out to fight against the Palestinian people”.


Dead rabbi used by internet scammers

By Marcus Dysch, February 5, 2009

Internet scammers are attempting to embezzle money using the names of late philanthropist Benzion Dunner and a Scottish law professor.

An email, sent from Hong Kong and written in broken English, asks recipients to provide legal documents in order to share funds left in the will of Rabbi Dunner, who died in a car crash last March.

The email states: “I do not wish to bore you with much stories [sic], my intention of writing you this mail is to solicit for your partnership in a rewarding venture with funds left by my deceased client by name: Benzion Dunner.”


Former US staff face gag order

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2009

The United Synagogue has been challenged over the use of confidentiality agreements signed by staff who have lost their jobs.

Members of the organisation’s lay council were told at a meeting at the end of last week that nine redundancies had been made among a staff of around 100 in a cost-cutting budget.

But David Rose, council representative for South Hampstead Synagogue, quizzed US officers over confidentiality agreements that he said he had heard some departing staff had been asked to sign.


Eilat flights cut after fall in bookings

By Jan Shure, February 5, 2009

UK tourism to Eilat has hit its lowest point since the Iraq war following the withdrawal of weekly direct flights from London.

Longwood Holidays, the largest UK operator to the Israeli resort, has cancelled all but two individual direct flights to Ovda, following a sharp fall in new bookings in late December.

Tourism experts blamed the fall on the economic climate. But according to Pini Shani, head of the Overseas Department at Israel’s Tourism Ministry, the situation was “not helped” by Israel’s Gaza offensive.


Schoolgirl 'terrorised' by mob

By Leon Symons, February 5, 2009

A Birmingham school is looking into claims by a 12-year-old girl, its only Jewish pupil, that she was terrorised by a mob of 20 youths chanting “Kill all Jews” and “Death to Jews” on her way home from school on Friday.

Eden Simones-Jones and some friends were standing outside a shop at a bus stop on their way home from Moseley College.

She said: “One of my friends said an Asian girl from the year above asked her why she was talking to me because I am Jewish. I asked the girl in a friendly manner if she had a problem with me being Jewish. She said ‘yeah, I do’.


Miliband and Clinton vow unity over Middle East

By Nathan Guttman, February 5, 2009

Seeking European partnership in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Foreign Secretary David Miliband this week for a discussion which focused largely on the Middle East.


Kadima set to implode as defeat looms

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 5, 2009

In the last frantic days before the elections on Tuesday, the ruling party, Kadima, is already in disarray over what is expected to be its defeat at the hands of Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

Kadima leader Tzipi Livni is being attacked for the campaign she ran and plans are already being made to mount a leadership challenge immediately after the elections.


Legal help for aliyah family

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2009

The Israeli High Court has been asked to intervene on behalf of a black family from south London who have been waiting to go on aliyah for more than 18 months.

Israel’s Ministry of Interior has so far offered no explanation for delaying the emigration of Carl and Maleka Levy, and their five daughters.

The family, who converted under Reform auspices in the UK, had hoped to begin a new life in Ashkelon in August 2007.

Now the Israel Religious Action Centre has filed a petition on behalf of the Levys to the courts.