UK news

Essex town to twin with Bethleham

By Robyn Rosen, February 18, 2010

A small rural Essex town is planning to twin with Bethlehem, becoming the first formal such arrangement between the Palestinian territories and England.

But some Jewish residents have expressed concern at the plan to twin with Mersea Island, which Mayor Peter Clements claims is not "political," but aimed at forming religious links.

The mayor said this week: "The deputy mayor of Bethlehem suggested the twinning and I thought: 'What a jolly good idea'.


Tories tell Livni: we’ll change 'arrest' law

By Martin Bright, February 18, 2010

Senior Conservatives have assured opposition leader Tzipi Livni that a Tory government would change the law that allows magistrates to issue arrest warrants for foreign politicians accused of war crimes.

Shadow business secretary Ken Clarke and shadow attorney general Edward Garnier met her in Israel as part of a party charm offensive.


Sharp decline in gap years to Israel

By Simon Rocker, February 18, 2010

The number of youngsters taking gap years in Israel fell dramatically this year because of the financial climate.

Only around 60 went to Israel this year, compared to more than 100 a year over the past three, according to FZY, the UK's largest Zionist youth movement.

And Bnei Akiva, the religious Zionist movement, experienced a slide from about 40 to the lower 20s.

But leaders hope that numbers will begin to climb again this autumn with BA anticipating as many as 55 recruits to its yeshivah and year schemes which can cost as much as £16,000.


PCC backs Julie Burchill

February 18, 2010

The newspaper industry watchdog has rejected a complaint against the JC about a comment by columnist Julie Burchill.

Reader Jess Wood complained that the comment that Christians were persecuted "all across the Muslim world" was inaccurate and misleading.

But the Press Complaints Commission ruled that care had been taken to ensure such "robust opinions" had sufficient basis in fact.

The article ran on December 11, headed "My quest for the one true faith".


WJR’s plan for more medics for Haiti

By Leon Symons, February 18, 2010

The success of its Haiti earthquake fundraising appeal has spurred international aid charity World Jewish Relief to step up the help it is providing to the stricken island.

Chief executive Paul Anticoni has launched an appeal for medical and health experts to form teams to run four mobile clinics.

The teams - a doctor and two primary health care nurses - will visit displacement camps housing thousands of refugees whose homes were destroyed.


Brick Lane 'hijab' gates to have Jewish Heritage centre close by

By Robyn Rosen, February 18, 2010

A row over proposals to install giant Islamic "headscarf" arches in Brick Lane, the heart of the old Jewish East End, has resulted in plans to create a Jewish East End Heritage Centre.

The arches are part of a £1.85million "culture trail" proposed by Tower Hamlets Council to "reflect the many cultural backgrounds that have occupied and sought refuge" in and around Brick Lane. Also planned is a 30ft minaret outside a mosque.

But the proposals have met opposition from local Jews as well as Muslims, heritage organisations and artist Tracey Emin, who lives near Brick Lane.


Zionist Federation may sue David Bellamy over talk pull-out

By Marcus Dysch, February 18, 2010

The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (Bricup) has claimed its campaign led TV botanist David Bellamy to pull out of a Zionist Federation science event.

Prof Bellamy was scheduled to be guest speaker at the Israel Blue White and Green event last week, but withdrew offering no explanation for his absence.

The JC understands that the ZF is now considering taking legal action against Prof Bellamy for breach of contract.


MPs urge Israel to work with Palestinian Authority

By Leon Symons, February 18, 2010

Israel's best chance for peace is to work with the current leaders of the Palestinian Authority, according to the leader of a group of MPs which has just visited the region.

Mike Gapes, chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, led nine of its 14 MPs from all parties on the four-day trip.

He said on their return: "I believe Israel should recognise that Salam Fayyad and Abu Mazen are the best hope they've got for peace. They are committed to a two-state solution and Israel should respond positively."


Israelis warned of terror attacks abroad

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 18, 2010

Israelis have been warned that there is currently a heightened possibility of a terror attack on an Israeli or Jewish target abroad.

The Counter-terrorism Bureau in the Prime Minister's Office has issued a general travel warning, not connected to a specific country, which tells Israelis planning to spend time overseas that the probability of an attack will rise around the second anniversary of the killing of Hizbollah operations chief, Imad Mughniyeh, mid-February.


Israeli ambassador 'grilled' on Dubai murder

By Jessica Elgot, February 18, 2010

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has confirmed British passports used by assassins who killed a Hamas leader in Dubai were old passports which did not contain microchip technology.

Mr Miliband said they were taking allegations of misuse of British passports very seriously.

He said: “The Permanent Secretary made clear how seriously we take any suggestion of fraudulent use of British passports, he also explained the concern that we have for British passport holders in Israel whose concerns have been well expressed by them, and we’re offering them consular support.