UK news

What baby boom? Board disputes birth statistics for UK Jews

By Leon Symons, May 23, 2008

A claim by a University of Manchester researcher that Britain’s Jewish population is growing for the first time since the Second World War has been questioned by the Board of Deputies.

Yaakov Wise, of the University’s Jewish-studies department, claimed that the population was 275,000 in 2005, but had increased to 280,000 by 2008. He said the main factor was the steady increase in births in the strictly Orthodox community.

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MPs slam universities over race-hate

By Leon Symons, May 23, 2008

Antisemitism on campus and the internet were the main targets during a debate on antisemitism in the main chamber of the House of Commons last week.

MPs from all sides of the House took the chance to express their views and comment on the government’s performance in acting on the recommendations of the Parliamentary All-Party Antisemitism report.

An international conference on antisemitism, supported by the Foreign Office, is to be held in London in February next year.

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UK says it is ready to pull out of ‘Durban II’ conference

By Leon Symons, May 23, 2008

Britain would pull out of the so-called “Durban II” conference on racism if it descends into another round of attacks on Israel and thinly veiled antisemitism.

Europe Minister Jim Murphy told MPs that while Britain would continue to work towards making the conference a success, he promised that a repeat of the blatant bias of the conference in 2001 would not be tolerated.

The first conference — the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Tolerance, to give its official title — was held in Durban in 2001.

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Rabbi speaks on abortion

May 23, 2008

The Reform movement’s Rabbi Jonathan Romain spoke against lowering the abortion limit from 24 weeks at a breakfast briefing for MPs ahead of this week’s vote.

Attempts to reduce the limit to 20 or 22 weeks were decisively defeated in the House of Commons on Tuesday night.

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Lawyers help student avoid Shabbat exams

By Simon Rocker, May 23, 2008

A student has been allowed to take one of his final exam papers a day early to avoid sitting it on Shabbat, after lawyers intervened with his university.

Hertfordshire University had initially refused Joel Raivid, 21, a BSc psychology student from Edgware, Middlesex, permission to sit the exam on the Friday before its scheduled Saturday slot.

He was told he would have to wait until several weeks later and take it in the re-sit period in late June or early July.

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Councils block security funds for schools

By Leon Symons, May 23, 2008

An MP who has taken a leading role in fighting antisemitism is preparing to confront 14 local authorities which have baulked at committing themselves to fund new security projects at Jewish schools in their areas.

The government gave the councils the go-ahead last October to allocate money to such projects from a £21 billion, three-year education budget.

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Fraud man sentenced

May 23, 2008

Raymond Nevitt, the driving force behind a £3.25 million fraud on trade creditors, was given a 45-month prison sentence on Tuesday at Manchester Crown Court. Two other former directors of the Ravelle Group, involved in the fraud, were given suspended sentences.

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Winehouse's six-day drugs 'cure'

May 23, 2008

Amy Winehouse is to go to Israel for drug rehabilitation, the JC can exclusively reveal, write Michal Levertov in Tel Aviv and Candice Krieger. A senior Israeli official confirmed to this newspaper that the singer, who is battling a well-documented drug addiction, will fly to Israel within weeks to undergo treatment at an Israeli clinic.

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Shuls use toilet walls to target domestic abuse

May 23, 2008

Synagogue denominations from Liberal to strictly Orthodox have agreed to give over space on thousands of ladies’ toilet walls to reach victims of domestic violence.

The charity Jewish Women’s Aid has reached agreement to place posters in synagogue toilets all over Britain to alert women victims of domestic abuse to its services. The campaign, to be launched in the next few weeks, is intended to give “a public voice to a private problem”, according to JWA chief executive Abigail Morris.

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Union gets legal threat over boycott

By Simon Rocker, May 23, 2008

The University and College Union has been warned of legal repercussions if it passes a motion calling on members to review links with Israel at its congress in Manchester next week.

Lawyers advising the Stop the Boycott Campaign say that the resolution — backed by the union’s own executive — is tantamount to support for boycott action already deemed unlawful.

But Sally Hunt, the union’s general secretary, denied that there was any call for a boycott.

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