UK news

Former US staff face gag order

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2009

The United Synagogue has been challenged over the use of confidentiality agreements signed by staff who have lost their jobs.

Members of the organisation’s lay council were told at a meeting at the end of last week that nine redundancies had been made among a staff of around 100 in a cost-cutting budget.

But David Rose, council representative for South Hampstead Synagogue, quizzed US officers over confidentiality agreements that he said he had heard some departing staff had been asked to sign.


Eilat flights cut after fall in bookings

By Jan Shure, February 5, 2009

UK tourism to Eilat has hit its lowest point since the Iraq war following the withdrawal of weekly direct flights from London.

Longwood Holidays, the largest UK operator to the Israeli resort, has cancelled all but two individual direct flights to Ovda, following a sharp fall in new bookings in late December.

Tourism experts blamed the fall on the economic climate. But according to Pini Shani, head of the Overseas Department at Israel’s Tourism Ministry, the situation was “not helped” by Israel’s Gaza offensive.


Schoolgirl 'terrorised' by mob

By Leon Symons, February 5, 2009

A Birmingham school is looking into claims by a 12-year-old girl, its only Jewish pupil, that she was terrorised by a mob of 20 youths chanting “Kill all Jews” and “Death to Jews” on her way home from school on Friday.

Eden Simones-Jones and some friends were standing outside a shop at a bus stop on their way home from Moseley College.

She said: “One of my friends said an Asian girl from the year above asked her why she was talking to me because I am Jewish. I asked the girl in a friendly manner if she had a problem with me being Jewish. She said ‘yeah, I do’.


Miliband and Clinton vow unity over Middle East

By Nathan Guttman, February 5, 2009

Seeking European partnership in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Foreign Secretary David Miliband this week for a discussion which focused largely on the Middle East.


Kadima set to implode as defeat looms

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 5, 2009

In the last frantic days before the elections on Tuesday, the ruling party, Kadima, is already in disarray over what is expected to be its defeat at the hands of Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

Kadima leader Tzipi Livni is being attacked for the campaign she ran and plans are already being made to mount a leadership challenge immediately after the elections.


Legal help for aliyah family

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2009

The Israeli High Court has been asked to intervene on behalf of a black family from south London who have been waiting to go on aliyah for more than 18 months.

Israel’s Ministry of Interior has so far offered no explanation for delaying the emigration of Carl and Maleka Levy, and their five daughters.

The family, who converted under Reform auspices in the UK, had hoped to begin a new life in Ashkelon in August 2007.

Now the Israel Religious Action Centre has filed a petition on behalf of the Levys to the courts.


'Toxic atmosphere' at Oxford University

By Simon Rocker, February 5, 2009

Jewish students at Oxford University have accused it of appearing to “appease” organisers of a sit-in at the university library last month in protest at Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The incident is also said to have disturbed some Jewish academics. One University Reader reportedly told a meeting that “within five years, Oxford will be a Jew-free zone”.

In an official reaction to the protest, the Senior Proctor of the university, Professor Donald Fraser, who oversees disciplinary matters, recommended “a relatively lenient course of action” against the demonstrators.


Anti-Israel protests spread to 17 campuses

By Marcus Dysch, February 5, 2009

University campuses across England have been the scenes of furious anti-Israel demonstrations as students staged co-ordinated “occupation” sit-ins and caused lectures to be cancelled.

The disruption began at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies on January 13. By this week, at least 17 universities had been targeted.

A number of university authorities took a hard line, saying the occupations constituted trespass, but others allowed the actions to continue unhindered.


Roads closed after student protest

By Marcus Dysch, January 30, 2009

An anti-Israel protestor was arrested after scaling a student centre on Thursday evening.

The incident came as around 50 protestors gathered outside the London Student Centre, in Euston Road, central London, where Colonel Geva Rapp, a retired IDF officer, was due to speak.

Police closed roads and sealed off the area outside Euston Station shortly after the incident began at 6pm.

The man, carrying a “Free Palestine” placard, climbed a wall and walked across a ledge before sitting outside the first floor windows of the student centre.


Law of return under fire at Durban II

By Simon Rocker, January 29, 2009

Jewish groups will face an uphill battle in their efforts to keep anti-Zionism off the agenda of the forthcoming United Nations anti-racism conference.

The latest draft of the resolutions, published this week, contains a proposed new reference to the “racially-based law of return” — the law which grants the right of any Jew to settle in the state of Israel.

Israel and Canada have already pulled out of “Durban II”, the follow-up in April in Geneva to the UN conference in South Africa eight years ago.