UK news

Israeli envoy in Guardian row

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 11, 2008

The Guardian has refused to publish a letter from the press counsellor of the Israeli Embassy complaining that the writer of a comment article had not been properly identified as Hamas’ de facto London representative. The newspaper called the Israeli diplomat’s description “highly defamatory”.

On November 21, the Guardian ran a comment piece entitled “End the Siege of Gaza” by the Palestinian academic Azzam Tamimi, arguing that Israel, and not Hamas, was to blame for the recent escalation around the Gaza Strip and the humanitarian conditions within.


‘Holocaust musical’ closes after a month

By John Nathan, December 11, 2008

Imagine This, the controversial West End musical set in the Warsaw Ghetto, will close on December 20, just one month after its official opening at the New London Theatre.

Even before preview performances began on November 4, detractors were describing the £5 million show as a “Holocaust musical”.

The play opened on November 19, amid doubts that a new musical with such dark subject matter as the Nazi persecution of Jews in occupied Poland would attract West End audiences in search of escapism.


UK firms plan to up West Bank imports

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 11, 2008

Representatives of British supermarkets and Palestinian export companies are to meet next week in London for talks aimed at enabling large quantities of produce from the West Bank to be sold on UK high streets.

The plan, which is being supported by the Portland Trust, one of the main bodies promoting PA private sector development, and other British Jewish businessmen, aims to create a “food hub” to improve shipping and distribution and help smooth over security problems that disrupt Palestinian exports.


‘Dress down’ or risk being robbed, police tell women

By Marcus Dysch and Jonathan Kalmus, December 11, 2008

A wave of violent crime is hitting Jewish areas in London and Manchester and police in London are warning that shoppers need a heightened awareness, may need to “dress down” and should avoid wearing expensive jewellery and accessories.

In the latest attack in north-west London, two women were beaten and robbed by a gang as they returned home from a shopping trip.

Hannah Kleinfeld and a friend were mugged by two men on the driveway of Mrs Kleinfeld’s home after they got out of her Lexus car.


Congregants flee after man breaks into shul

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 11, 2008

Congregants of a Satmar Chasidic synagogue fled last week after an intruder, dressed in an over-sized winter coat, mounted the platform in front of the Ark and apparently began shouting in a foreign language.

The incident occurred in the midst of an afternoon prayer service at the Satmar Synagogue on Northumberland Street in North Manchester. Fifty worshippers inside scrambled to exits; police arrived on the scene within minutes after receiving a number of panicked phone calls.


UJIA caps cost of 2009 youth tours

By Leon Symons, December 11, 2008

British youth group tours to Israel next year will cost the same as this year — after UJIA stepped in to cap the costs of the trips in response to the recession.

Some groups said this week that they would have had to increase their prices by anything up to 25 per cent, which they acknowledge would have taken the Israel Experience tour out of reach of many families.

The trips next year will remain at around £2,400-£2,500, the same as those of 2008. However, all the groups have cut their trips by up to three days, though none will be less than 25 days long.


Faith schools report attacked

By Leon Symons, December 11, 2008

A report calling for faith schools to stop selecting on the basis of pupils’ religion has been heavily criticised.

The Runnymede Trust’s report, Right to Divide? Faith Schools and Community Cohesion, says that “if faith schools are convinced of their relevance for society, then that should apply equally for all children”.

It questioned the commitment of faith schools to the government’s social cohesion programme and said: “Too often, there remains a resistance to learning about other faiths.”

Parents, said the report, can use faith as a means of ensuring social


Faulty Basil?

December 11, 2008

Basil grown in Israel is thought to have caused 32 cases of food poisoning in England and Wales last year. The Health Protection Agency linked the rare Salmonella senftenberg cases to contaminated leaves. More than 3,700 herbs were tested by the agency between May and October 2007.


Next step Europe in lawyer’s BBC bias battle

By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, December 11, 2008

A lawyer is considering the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as his last legal option in a two-year campaign to force the BBC to publish its 2004 report investigating its Middle Eastern coverage.

Steven Sugar is waiting to hear the House of Lords’ judgement on his latest attempt to force publication of the Balen Report, written by BBC senior editor Malcolm Balen.

But if the Law Lords reject his appeal, the Putney solicitor says he “will certainly consider” taking the case to Strasbourg.


JC chairman stands down after five years

December 11, 2008

Peter Levy, who has been chairman of the Jewish Chronicle for five years, is retiring from the role. He will also be stepping down from the board of directors.

Mr Levy said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to chair the JC, but this is an appropriate time for me to step down, with a new editor and hopefully a new era of continued success for the Jewish Chronicle.”