UK news

London university to host imam who called Jews 'enemy'

By Robyn Rosen, January 18, 2011

Queen Mary University’s Islamic Society is to host controversial speaker Abu Usamah, who has called Jewish people the “enemy”.

Abu Usamah, who is an Imam at Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham, will address students on Wednesday in a lecture entitled: “Wives of the Prophet.”

In 2007, footage of him was used in a Channel 4 documentary called Undercover Mosques. He was filmed saying Osama bin Laden is “better than a thousand Tony Blairs” and that non-Muslims are “liars”


Ian McEwan wins 2011 Jerusalem Prize

By Jennifer Lipman, January 18, 2011

British writer Ian McEwan has been described as “one of the most important writers of our time” by the judging panel of this year’s Jerusalem Prize.

The author of the bestselling novels Atonement and On Chesil Beach was named as the recipient of the prize, Israel’s most significant literary honour for foreign writers.

Mr McEwan was chosen for the £6,200 prize because of “his love of people and concern for their right to self-realisation, and in recognition of his artistic achievements.”


Nazi controversy threat to King's Speech Oscar chances

By Jennifer Lipman, January 18, 2011

The award-winning film about Britain’s wartime king has been condemned for whitewashing history by an anonymous critic who some suggest is seeking to upset the film’s Oscar chances.

The King’s Speech, which stars Colin Firth as King George VI, follows the monarch as he ascended to the throne in 1936 and attempted to conquer his life-long speech impediment.

The film ends with the king’s powerful speech as Britain entered the Second World War, but in general makes few mentions of the Nazi threat.


Anthony Horowitz to write new Sherlock Holmes story

By Jennifer Lipman, January 18, 2011

A Jewish author is to write the first new Sherlock Holmes story in almost a century.

Anthony Horowitz has been chosen by author Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate to write what will be the fifth full-length book about the brilliant and idiosyncratic detective.

Mr Horowitz, originally from Stanmore, is best known for the bestselling children’s action-adventure series Alex Rider. But his book about life at 221b Baker Street will be aimed at adults.


Black Swan and Social Network up for Baftas

By Jennifer Lipman, January 18, 2011

Natalie Portman has been nominated for Britain’s most important film award.

Two days after she picked up a Golden Globe for her performance as an ambitious, tortured ballerina in Black Swan, the Israeli-born actress has been placed in the running for the Bafta award for Best Actress.

The drama, which arrives on British screens this week, has been nominated for five awards, including the Best Director nod for its Jewish filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.


John Lewis criticises pro-Palestinian group's Ahava boycott claim

By Robyn Rosen, January 17, 2011

John Lewis has accused an anti-Israel campaign group of sending “false and misleading” information after it published a press release wrongly linking the department store’s withdrawal of an Israeli cosmetics brand with its boycott campaign.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) sent an email to its mailing list on Friday claiming John Lewis was “now refusing to stock” Ahava products.


Baroness Neuberger set for West London

By Simon Rocker, January 14, 2011

As predicted by the JC two weeks ago, the Lib Dem peeress Baroness Neuberger is set to be the new senior rabbi of the Reform movement’s flagship congregation, the West London Synagogue.

Rabbi Neuberger, 60, who is currently the president of Liberal Judaism, has been unanimously been recommended to succeed Rabbi Mark Winer by West London’s council.

But her appointment must still be confirmed by a ballot of synagogue members.

If she takes the post, it will be her first full-time pulpit since she served as rabbi of South London Liberal Synagogue from 1977 to 1989.


Jewish leader threatened at LSE Israel debate

By Robyn Rosen, January 14, 2011

A senior LSE professor allegedly threatened to “slap” the senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies, Jonathan Arkush, following a debate at the university.

The incident occurred after the LSE student union’s Israel Society and Palestine Society held a joint debate last night entitled: “This house believes in an academic boycott of Israel”.


Chief asks for organ card shift

By Simon Rocker, January 14, 2011

A leading American rabbi has accused the London Beth Din of "sentencing people to death" for saying that organ donor cards are unacceptable for Jews to carry in their current form.

Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a medical ethics professor at New York's Yeshiva University, criticised long-awaited new guidelines on organ donation issued by the Beth Din and Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

But some senior Orthodox doctors in the UK welcomed the statement from Lord Sacks and his dayanim as a move to encourage more Jews to become organ donors.


Abrahams in bid to broker peace deal

By Martin Bright, January 14, 2011

The international defence and security thinktank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), has confirmed the appointment of the first Jewish vice-president in its 180-year history.

North East property tycoon David Abrahams has been given the post in an attempt to boost the institute's work in Israel and Palestine. His fellow vice-presidents include Sir Paul Lever, former UK ambassador to Germany, Sir David Omand, former Permanent Secretary at the Cabinet Office, and the Duke of Westminster.