UK news

Caryl Churchill to lead Palestinian carols at Bloomsbury church

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

Protesters will demonstrate outside a Baptist church which is hosting a carol service organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

The PSC will be holding its annual Christmas concert at the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in Covent Garden next month.

The service, which has not been advertised on the church’s website but has been listed on the PSC site, will include seasonal readings from playwright Caryl Churchill, whose play, Seven Jewish Children, caused controversy earlier this year.


Board bid to engage Israeli-Arabs

By Simon Rocker, November 26, 2009

The Board of Deputies and the UJIA have joined a new task force to promote greater interest in Israel’s Arab citizens.

Other founding members of the group are the Pears Foundation, the Zionist Federation, the New Israel Fund and the Abraham Fund Initiatives UK.

Trevor Pears, executive chairman of the Pears Foundation and co-chair of the group with Douglas Krikler, UJIA chief executive, explained: “Our foundation has focused on this issue since the symposium we hosted on the subject in 2007. Since then, interest has grown culminating in the UK Taskforce.”


Israel critics pledge their backing for Goldstone

By Leon Symons, November 26, 2009

Anglo-Jewish groups which are strongly critical of Israel are planning a public show of support for the Goldstone Report on Israel’s action in Gaza.

Independent Jewish Voices and Jews for Justice for Palestinians are among a number of organisations who intend to place an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Gordon Brown in The Times.

Noting that “British Jews do not speak with one voice”, they welcome the Goldstone Report and condemn what they call the “vilification” of Judge Richard Goldstone.


Ex-envoy was 'antisemitic' on Iraq

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

Comments made by the former British ambassador to Libya, Sir Oliver Miles, have been called “unacceptable” and “antisemitic” after he criticised the appointment of two leading Jews to the Iraq inquiry.

Sir Oliver drew attention to the appointment of Holocaust historian and Winston Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert, and the war historian and “Blair doctrine” architect Sir Lawrence Freedman, who advocated humanitarian intervention in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The two men have been made privy counsellors in order to sit on the inquiry committee, which opened this week.


MP Andrew Dismore fights back over expenses

By Martin Bright, November 26, 2009

Labour’s Andrew Dismore, MP for Hendon in north-west London, has fought back against claims that he abused the parliamentary allowance system.

Speaking exclusively to the JC, Mr Dismore said he was the victim of a smear campaign targeting members of the Commons Standards and Privileges committee, on which he serves.

The Daily Telegraph claimed the Hendon MP claimed for 5,360 miles of car journeys (the equivalent of three return journeys a day). It is also alleged that Mr Dismore split £65,000 of second home allowances between two properties in London.


Maccabi referee was 'unlawfully killed;'

By Marcus Dysch, November 26, 2009

A pensioner who was hit by a van as he crossed a road after enjoying a night out with his wife and friends was unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Jack Reuben died 48 hours after the collision in north London in July 2007.

The 78-year-old was vice-president of London Maccabi Vale cricket club for almost 50 years, and had served as a football referee in the Maccabi Southern Football League.

Mr Reuben and his wife Anita, who were members of Edgware Synagogue, were hit while crossing Whetstone High Road after leaving a restaurant.


Conservatives urge ban of Islamic extremist group

November 26, 2009

The government has denied any involvement in funding two Islamic schools with links to the extremist Muslim organisation Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT), following heated exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Gordon Brown agreed to investigate “very, very carefully” concerns raised by Conservative leader David Cameron about government funding of schools run by the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation in Slough and the London borough of Haringey.

He said that the Foundation has received £113,000 in government grants.


Plymouth synagogue sells silver for £175,000

By Robyn Rosen, November 26, 2009

A historic collection of silver Judaica which had been auctioned to raise funds for a struggling synagogue has made £175,000, almost double the estimated amount.

Plymouth Hebrew Congregation, the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in the English-speaking world, auctioned the collection — considered by experts to be the earliest and rarest set of silver prayer instruments — at Bonhams in London on Wednesday.

The last item in the sale, a rare pair of George III silver and parcel-gilt rimonim and matching yad, was the top sale of the whole auction and made £62,400.


Peerage for Muslim Council of Britain head?

By Martin Bright, November 25, 2009

The government is preparing to give a peerage to the head of the Muslim Council of Britain, even though government links with the organisation are officially suspended.

Ministers are keen to find a prominent Muslim to enter the House of Lords as a way of balancing the peerage given to Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks earlier this year.

It is understood that the name of Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was proposed at a meeting in Downing Street earlier this week to discuss relations with the Muslim community.


Rabbi cleared of supplying cocaine faces rehab

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 25, 2009

The rabbi standing trial for supplying cocaine at a lavish party for rich doctors, businessmen and prostitutes has been cleared by a jury at Manchester Crown Court.

Baruch Chalomish, 54, escaped a lengthy prison sentence and was given unconditional bail. It was indicated by the judge that he would face an order to attend narcotic rehabilitation organised by the strictly Orthodox Jewish community when he reappears for sentencing on December 17.