UK news

Liddle defends his Auschwitz ‘humour’

By Marcus Dysch, January 21, 2010

Journalist Rod Liddle has defended comments he made about Auschwitz in an online forum which contains virulently antisemitic jokes.

Mr Liddle, the former editor of Radio 4’s Today programme, said his remarks needed to be viewed in context and that he had been attempting to show the Nazi death camp has been “rendered politically correct…something much less than it should be”.


'Sorry' for victims of Thalidomide

By Marcus Dysch, January 21, 2010

Two Jewish Thalidomide victims visited Parliament last week to witness the government’s long-awaited apology to those who suffered the consequences of the drug’s use 50 years ago.

Guy Tweedy and Nick Dobrick heard Health Minister Mike O’Brien express “sincere regret and deep sympathy” and confirm a £20 million package, worth around £40,000 each for more than 460 survivors and their families.

Mr O’Brien told the House of Commons the money, to be distributed by the Thalidomide Trust, would be used to meet the health needs of survivors.


Art critic Charles Spencer dies

By Dina Rickman, January 21, 2010

Charles Spencer, the longtime art critic for the JC, has died, aged 89.

Born in London’s East End to Russian and Polish parents, he specialised in Romanian art and edited the journal Art and Artists. Among his books was Memoirs of an Art Critic in Greece.

Mr Spencer also lectured on art at Spiro Ark, the organisation for Jewish cultural education. He spent the last years of his life at Nightingale House, the Jewish home in south London.

Harvey Kaye, Mr Spencer’s nephew, said: “He carried on lecturing and putting on art exhibitions until the end of his life.”


Cash for Israel-UK research

By Leon Symons, January 21, 2010

The government is to increase financial aid for a scheme that has enhanced links between British and Israeli academics.

Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis said that an extra £29,000 will be given to the British Israel Research and Academic Exchange partnership (BIRAX), which was set up as a bulwark against a threatened academic boycott of Israel.

The partnership, now in its second year, has given support to 15 innovative scientific research projects ranging from galaxy clusters to motor neuron degeneration and involving 17 different universities in Britain and Israel.


BBC denies organ blood libel to Evgeny Kissin

By Robyn Rosen, January 21, 2010

The director-general of the BBC has defended its coverage of the conflict in the Middle East after internationally renowned pianist Evgeny Kissin complained about its “bias against Israel”.

Mr Kissin, who was a child prodigy in his native Russia and is now widely recognised as one of the greatest living pianists, accused the BBC’s Persian Service of a “blood libel, concerning Israel’s alleged harvesting of Palestinian organs and blood for future transplant”.


UCU under fire for 'institutional racism'

By Leon Symons, January 21, 2010

The University and College Union has been accused of being antisemitic and institutionally racist by one of its members at a seminar it was running — to fight antisemitism.

The union, whose repeated attempts to introduce an academic boycott of Israel have led to a number of resignations, was the subject of a scathing attack by David Hirsh, who runs the Engage anti-boycott website.


Dad rocked with Paul McCartney

By Robyn Rosen, January 21, 2010

The son of rock guitarist Mick Green, who played with Paul McCartney and Van Morrison, has described his father, who died aged 65 last week, as his “best friend”.

Mr Green, a member of Wanstead and Woodford Synagogue, died on January 11.

His son and manager, Brad, 28, said: “He had a very large personality and was a real comedian. His death will leave a huge gap in my life.”

Mr Green began his career playing with 1960s band Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. He later played in the band Shanghai, which supported Status Quo on tour in 1976.


US rabbis squabble over JFS

By Simon Rocker, January 21, 2010

Arguments among United Synagogue rabbis over the JFS court case escalated this week as senior ministers dug in their heels against concessions to the non-Orthodox.

Writing to US lay leaders, the rabbis said they were “troubled” by the position advocated in last week’s JC by the joint vice-chairmen of the US Rabbinical Council (RCUS), Rabbis Michael Harris and Naftali Brawer.

They had called for co-operation with non-Orthodox bodies over any move to change the law in order to reverse the recent Supreme Court judgment on Jewish school admissions.


How we hacked the JC hacker

By Richard Burton and Jessica Elgot, January 21, 2010

Special branch are investigating an attempt by pro-Palestinian hackers to compromise the JC website.

Police were passed vital clues about the identity of the hacker after an investigation by the company’s IT experts revealed the source of the attack.

The site was suspended briefly on Sunday evening after the home page displayed a Palestinian flag and an antisemitic message in broken English and Turkish, which stated the hack to be the work of “Palestinian Mujaheeds”.


Hackney council threat to demolish four-storey Charedi home

By Marcus Dysch, January 21, 2010

A Charedi family is waiting to discover whether their home will be demolished following a long-running dispute with a council.

Jacob Dreyfuss, president of Stamford Hill’s Stolin-Karlin synagogue, has appealed to overturn an enforcement notice imposed after he rebuilt his home without planning permission.

If he loses, Hackney Council will be legally allowed to have the house knocked down and rebuilt to its original dimensions.