UK news

Julie Burchill joins Brighton shul

By Cecily Woolf, June 18, 2009

Outspoken writer and columnist Julie Burchill is taking her support for Israel and Jewish causes to a new level by becoming a Friend of Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue — and considering converting to Judaism.

Ms Burchill has been attending Shabbat services for a month and has begun studying Hebrew. “I first thought about converting when I was 25,” she said. “I will be 50 next month so it’s hardly a flash in the pan. At a time of rising and increasingly vicious antisemitism from both left and right, becoming Jewish especially appeals to me.


Couple sue neighbours over Shabbat lights

June 16, 2009

A couple are suing their neighbours because an automatic security light is stopping them leaving their flat without breaking Shabbat..

Dr Dena Coleman, 56, and husband Gordon claim that every time they try to leave, they automatically trigger the light in the communal hallway.

They are suing the flats' management company for failing to accommodate their religion and breaching their human rights. This would mean the other 35 owners of the seaside flats are liable for court costs if the claim is successful.


Jewish serviceman killed in Afghanistan

June 15, 2009

Lieutenant Paul Mervis was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, while on foot patrol with the British forces in northern Helmand.

The 27-year-old Londoner was one of the first officers commissioned into 2nd Battalion The Rifles in 2007. The Ministry of Defence said “it was typical of the man that he led from the front in one of Afghanistan’s most demanding and dangerous districts”.

His family said he was “a wonderful loving son, brother and friend, generous and thoughtful with an infectious sense of fun. Paul was killed doing the job he chose and loved.


Bercow makes his pitch for Speaker

June 15, 2009

Candidates to be Speaker of the House of Commons will this afternoon offer their manifestos to fellow MPs. The bookmakers’ favourite is John Bercow, who represents Buckingham.

Mr Bercow is thought by many insiders to be an unlikely favourite, since he enjoys little support on his own Conservative benches. The support comes mainly from Labour MPs who, after two Labour speakers, realise that a third successive speaker drawn from Labour MPs may be inappropriate.


Sassoon, Rebuck head birthday honours list

June 12, 2009

Jews from all walks of life have been named in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours List.

The highest honour goes to the chair of Random House publishers, Gail Rebuck, who is appointed Dame.

Vidal Sassoon has received a CBE for his services to hairdressing. The 81-year-old stylist made his name in 1960s when his ‘bob cut’ became the look that defined an era.

But the Jewish community will know him for his opposition to Mosley's blackshirts and the fact that he volunteered to fight in Israel's war of independence in 1948.


I quit job, sold home, then Israel barred me

By Marcus Dysch, June 11, 2009

A non-Jewish man and his Jewish-born wife say they are “living in complete limbo” after their Israeli citizenship application was rejected by the Jewish Agency.

Kevin and Andrea Ayres sold their home in Devon and quit their jobs 18 months ago in the hope of making aliyah to northern Israel.

Their application was made because Mrs Ayres had a Jewish grandmother.
Last month the couple, now living in temporary accommodation, began legal proceedings at the Israeli High Court in an attempt to force the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for citizenship, to grant them nationality.


Boycotter threats fail to sway festival

By Stephanie Brickman and Marcus Dysch, June 11, 2009

Pro-Palestinian campaigners are expected to disrupt a Scottish town’s summer festival over sponsorship from a French sewage company with business interests in Israel.

This weekend’s Leith Festival, held on the outskirts of Edinburgh, has been funded using a £3,000 grant from Veolia, which runs a water treatment plant in the town.

Organisers have refused to return the money despite being urged to do so by Scottish Palestine Solidarity (SPSC).

SPSC has encouraged supporters to leaflet the event and deliver a “presentation on Israel’s criminal occupation”.


Spain honours men who fought fascists

By Simon Rocker, June 11, 2009

Three men in their nineties were among the last British veterans of the Spanish civil war honoured by the Spanish Embassy in London on Tuesday.
Sam Lesser, Lou Kenton and Joseph Kahn were part of a group of seven UK and Irish volunteers of the International Brigade awarded Spanish citizenship 70 years after the end of the conflict.

“It was exciting, enjoyable and a huge honour to have my Spanish passport bestowed on me,” said Mr Kahn, 93, of Maida Vale, north west London.


Kosher butchers reject ‘meat injection’ claims

By Leon Symons, June 11, 2009

Butchers’ have refuted a claim that non-kosher substances are being injected into kosher chicken.

Licensed Kosher Meat Traders’ Association chairman Jacky Lipowicz hit out at the Independent newspaper which published a full-page feature on the issue last week.


Moshe’s Mafia leaders get nine years for £36m cannabis plot

By Marcus Dysch, June 11, 2009

The Israeli masterminds of one of the biggest smuggling operations ever intercepted by British police have been jailed.

Moshe Kedar, aged 81, and Yehezkel Srebro, 57, were both sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment.

Their accomplice, Mordechai Hersh, 67, received an eight-year term.
They will be deported from Britain after completing their sentences, handed down at Winchester Crown Court on Thursday last week.

Earlier the men were convicted of planning an elaborate operation to bring more than 12 tonnes of cannabis, worth £36 million, into the country using a tugboat.