UK news

Britain and Italy threaten to drop out of Durban II

By Leon Symons, February 19, 2009

Britain and Italy could join Canada and Israel in refusing to attend the Durban II Review Conference in April unless they receive cast-iron guarantees that it will not turn into an antisemitic, anti-Israel arena of hate.

The conference, to be held in Geneva, is a follow-up to the UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

The Durban conference became notorious for its unbridled attacks on Israel, led by Iran and a number of other Arab states.

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Minister: ‘Israel anger has become attacks on Jews’

By Leon Symons, February 19, 2009

Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch-Brown has condemned the targeting of Jews around the world as a direct result of Israel’s foreign policy.

In an exclusive interview with the JC while attending this week’s London Conference on Antisemitism, Lord Malloch-Brown — a critic of Israel’s recent action in Gaza — said: “I am intellectually dismayed at the conflation of the two issues. I lived in the United States for many years and I would not expect someone to throw a brick through my window because of the policies of the British government.

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Pioneering move to fight race hate

By Leon Symons, February 19, 2009

A landmark document designed to combat antisemitism in all parts of the world has been produced at the end of a unique conference.

The first London Conference on Antisemitism brought together 125 parliamentarians from 40 countries, alongside 80 experts in the field.

They spent two days closeted together — the week after the Community Security Trust confirmed that January was the worst month ever in Britain for antisemitic incidents, in the wake of Israel’s action in Gaza.

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Top Muslim adviser in hate email 'stitch-up'

By Leon Symons, February 19, 2009

A senior government adviser on Muslim communities was the victim of a stitch-up, it was claimed this week.

Maqsood Ahmed, who is an adviser on extremism, works at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

According to a story in the Guardian at the weekend, he sent an email to several people saying that a number of Muslim websites critical of Islam were created by Jews with the aim of subverting the religion. Mr Ahmed was criticised by both Muslim and Jewish groups.

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Asylum-seeker saved from deportation by shul activists

By Simon Rocker, February 19, 2009

Swift action by synagogue members brought a last-minute halt to the deportation of a 62-year-old grandmother to the Democratic Republic of Congo last week.

Marie-Jeanne Elumba Ngolo, from Kinshasa, who has been in the UK for nine years, was a regular visitor to the New North London Synagogue’s drop-in centre for asylum-seekers.

But when she was suddenly arrested and told she was being sent back to her homeland, supporters of the centre lobbied the authorities and secured a temporary reprieve.

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Israeli cleared of rape

February 19, 2009

An Israeli man living in Golders Green, north London, has been cleared of rape following a week-long trial. Shay Kaldron, 33, was acquitted at Harrow Crown Court last Friday. He had denied one charge of attempted rape and another of sexual assault.

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Sex ads banned by ASA

February 19, 2009

Provocative roadside billboards advertising a male impotence aid have been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency. Two of the adverts were removed from Edgware, North-West London, in December after dozens of Jewish residents complained.

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GP under council inquiry

February 19, 2009

A former Israeli army doctor has denied acting inappropriately while working as a GP in England. A General Medical Council disciplinary panel is considering complaints against 50-year-old Paul Hirschowitz, who worked at a Scarborough surgery.

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British MEPs meet Hamas

By Jonathan Kalmus and Marcus Dysch, February 19, 2009

British lawmakers have met Hamas officials during a visit to Gaza.

Members of the European Parliament Palestine delegation travelled to Rafah last Thursday and Friday.

Chris Davies MEP said: “We asked for their reaction to the action last month and discussed their views on Palestinian re-unity and the possibility for a unity government. I can’t say we got very far.”

On Sunday, six MPs from the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group inspected Gazan sites damaged during the conflict.

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Community backing for Fair Trade

By Simon Rocker, February 19, 2009

The first national campaign launches next week to persuade Jews to buy fair trade goods.

It has been timed to run during Fairtrade Fortnight, the annual promotion by the Fairtrade Foundation, which labels approved products from Third World exporters.

The campaign has the backing of a wide coalition of groups across the religious spectrum, including the United Synagogue, the Reform, Liberal and Masorti movements, the UJIA, the Jewish Community Centre (JCC), the Board of Deputies, Tzedek and the Pears Foundation.

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