UK news

Human Rights Watch seeks to prove Middle East 'balance'

By Simon Rocker, January 28, 2010

A top official from Human Rights Watch met Jewish representatives in London this week in an effort to persuade them that the organisation is not biased against Israel.

The New York-based human rights organisation — which condemned both Israel and Hamas over their conduct of last year’s Gaza war — has faced a barrage of criticism from Jewish groups over the year, with even its own founder, Robert Bernstein, recently accusing it of undue focus on Israel.


Family 'heartbroken' as Israel refuses aliyah

By Simon Rocker, January 28, 2010

A black Jewish family from South London who have been trying to make aliyah for more than two years have had their application rejected by Israel’s Interior Ministry.

Carl and Maleka Levy, who converted from Rastafarianism through the Reform movement six years ago, had planned to go out to Israel with their five daughters in August 2007.

But despite testimonials from British rabbis and intervention by Israeli lawyers on their behalf, they were notified last week that they would not be allowed to emigrate under the Law of Return.


Latin teacher accused of assault on pupils

By Nick Cullen, January 28, 2010

A Latin master at a top London public school subjected three pupils to a sustained campaign of sexual abuse, a court has heard.

Michael Gordon, 55, a member of Pinner and Northwood Liberal Synagogue, regularly stroked the youngsters and pressed himself up against them, it is claimed.

The boys, who were all aged between 10 and 13 at the time, said the abuse made them feel “shivery” and “horrible”, Southwark Crown Court heard.


British Muslim TV head arrested for 'terrorism'

January 28, 2010

The head of Britain’s main Muslim television channel, Mohamed Ali Harrath, who is wanted by Interpol for alleged terrorism offences, was arrested by South African police this week.

Harrath, 46, faced deportation to Tunisia, which has an extradition treaty with Pretoria, but was released after two days because of doubts about the validity of the arrest warrant.


Businessman 'shot burglar alarm to stop ringing'

By Marcus Dysch, January 28, 2010

A businessman is being investigated by police after a shotgun was fired at a neighbour’s burglar alarm late at night.

Peter Shalson, 52, was questioned following an incident at the property next to his detached home in St John’s Wood, north west London, earlier this month.

A butler at the neighbour’s house claimed CCTV footage had caught an intruder climbing a cast-iron fence, smashing a glass door and then shooting the alarm’s control box to stop it ringing.


James Cordon dives in pool at simcha

By Robyn Rosen, January 28, 2010

A comedian has made waves at an engagement party organised by two high-profile Jewish families after he jumped into the pool at a five-star hotel.

Ben Winston, son of Professor Lord Robert Winston, and Meredith Tillman, daughter of fashion retailer Harold Tillman, the chairman of the British Fashion Council (BFC) and owner of Jaeger, celebrated their engagement at the Haymarket Hotel in London last Saturday.

During the bash, catered by top kosher caterer Tony Page, Gavin and Stacey star James Corden caused a splash by jumping into the swimming pool.


Baroness Neuberger: Allow gay marriage in synagogue

By Simon Rocker, January 28, 2010

Baroness Neuberger, president of Liberal Judaism, this week called for a change in the law to allow civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples to be held in synagogue.

The ceremonies, introduced by the government four years ago, cannot take place in a house of worship or use religious language as they are considered the equivalent to civil marriage.

In a Lords debate on the Equality Bill on Monday, Baroness Neuberger said that she had been told by couples that they and their parents would have been “overjoyed” if they had been able to have the ceremony in a synagogue.


£3.5m to convert pub to Bobov community centre

By Marcus Dysch, January 28, 2010

A strictly Orthodox community which hopes to turn a former pub into a centre for social and religious activities is aiming to raise £3.5million to complete the project.

Work is yet to begin on the conversion of The Swan more than a year after the building was bought by Stamford Hill’s Bobov community and four months after planning permission was granted by Hackney Council.


Why Jewish families choose other faith schools

By Jessica Elgot, January 28, 2010

Many families are sending their children to Christian faith schools rather than local comprehensives.

They see them as offering better education, achieving better results, and having a stronger religious ethos than secular alternatives.

It was revealed this week that Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is Jewish but atheist, is to send his eldest child to a top Church of England primary.

He is not alone. Jewish parents often point to the fact that two-thirds of 329 primary schools with “perfect” SATs results last year, were Anglican, Catholic or Jewish schools.


David Abraham: High ideals for Channel 4

By Robyn Rosen, January 28, 2010

David Abraham, the chief executive of UKTV, has been appointed as chief executive of Channel 4.

Mr Abraham, 46, replaces Andy Duncan, who stepped down in November.

He was a co-founder of ad agency St Luke’s and previously worked at Discovery Networks USA and UK.

Mr Abraham said: “This is an extremely exciting, if challenging, time to be working in the media. Innovation has been part of Channel 4’s history and it will be at the heart of its future.