UK news

Trust backs Baroness Warsi on bigotry

By Marcus Dysch, October 14, 2010

The Coexistence Trust has backed Tory peeress Sayeeda Warsi's comments on Islamophobia and antisemitism.

Baroness Warsi, chairman of the Conservative Party, told the New Statesman that anti-Islamic sentiment was the "last acceptable form of bigotry in Britain today," comparable to the portrayal of Jews a century ago.

Rokhsana Fiaz, director of the Coexistence Trust, which works with Jewish and Muslim students, said: "Baroness Warsi is absolutely right…both Islamophobia and antisemitism are scourges on our society and an affront to every decent-minded citizen.


Tal Ben Haim's pre-match brit detour

By Jessica Elgot, October 14, 2010

West Ham footballer Tal Ben Haim made a pit stop on his way to play in Israel this weekend - to hold his baby son's brit milah in Edgware.

Mr Ben Haim, 28, whose wife Michal gave birth to their second son, was doubtful for the Israeli national team's match against Croatia on Saturday because the
circumcision ceremony was planned for Friday.

But the family organised the ceremony en route to Luton Airport. It took place at 6.35am on Friday at Edgware Shtiebel, next to Edgware Adath Yisrael Synagogue, with mohel Rabbi Erie Aschkenazy.


Jews back Muslim marriage visa challenge

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2010

A Muslim couple's legal challenge to the rules on marriage visas is being supported by the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.

The Court of Appeal will hear a claim next week that it is unfair to stop foreign spouses from outside the European Union coming to Britain if they are under 21.

In November 2008, the last government raised the minimum age for marriage visas from 18 to 21, as a way to deter forced marriages.


BAE Systems stall row in Edinburgh University

By Stephanie Brickman, October 14, 2010

A group of student demonstrators failed to shut down a careers fair at Edinburgh University last week. The group of 12 assembled in front of a stall run by BAE Systems, a company that develops defence and security systems and employs 100,000 people.

The group, calling themselves Students for Justice in Palestine, yelled slogans including "Israel kills, BAE sells", before pretending to be dead in front of the stall. Police were called and the group was dispersed peacefully.


Holocaust on show to Asian students

October 14, 2010

Holocaust teaching abroad has received a major boost with the launch of a ground-breaking course at Yad Vashem in Israel for students from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The two-week course is being led by Jerry Gotel, the London Jewish Cultural Centre's senior historian.

He has been instrumental in teaching some of them to become Holocaust educators in China and to further their studies in Israel.


Racial abuse pair spared jail sentences

By Marcus Dysch, October 14, 2010

Two men have avoided jail after racially abusing yeshivah students during a drunken rampage.

Mark Padgett and Karl Bowman taunted the students at Gateshead Talmudical College and tried to provoke them into fighting in the street.

The pair had been drinking at a house party before the incident in May.

Padgett, 19, of Saltwell Road, Gateshead, caused more than £1,000 of damage to the yeshivah by battering the front door with a plank of wood. He also smashed a car windscreen.


Anti Israel boycott professor elected to Academy

By Rob Lyons, October 14, 2010

A leading professor who campaigned against the boycott of Israeli universities has been elected to the British Academy.

Shalom Lappin, professor of computational linguistics at King's College, London, was awarded the honour for his groundbreaking work on how children learn languages.

The 59-year-old has developed
a mathematical model to represent a human child's cognitive ability. He said: "I want to illuminate how much of learning is nurture versus nature."


JLC in shift to boost Jewish legitimacy

By Simon Rocker, October 14, 2010

The Jewish Leadership Council is to change its structure in order to give it greater legitimacy within the Jewish community.

Members appointed in a personal capacity, such as Lord Woolf and Sir Victor Blank, will no longer have a vote at the council but serve instead in an advisory capacity, as vice-presidents.

Instead, voting rights are to be restricted to leaders of the 16 Jewish organisations currently represented on the council.


Man Booker winner Howard Jacobson has last laugh

By Jenni Frazer, October 14, 2010

It has taken him 27 years and 15 books, but this week the novelist Howard Jacobson finally won the most prestigious prize in publishing, the Man Booker award, for his novel, The Finkler Question.

The Manchester-born writer, previously longlisted twice for the Man Booker, joked at the Guildhall award ceremony that he had thrown away all his previous speeches of acceptance, while retaining an acute memory of all the judges who had turned him down in previous years.


Synagogues face VAT slap for listed buildings

By Leon Symons, October 14, 2010

Synagogue buildings given heritage status face increased costs that could run into thousands of pounds after the government decided to cut a grant that refunded VAT.

The cut, which will start in January, is part of the government's overall drive to tackle the economic deficit.

Currently synagogues, along with all other listed places of worship, can claim a grant equal to the VAT paid on certain specified works, including architects' professional fees. Now they cannot claim for those fees as well as work on items such as clocks, pews, bells and organs.