UK news

Historian blasts UK's Israel policy

By Marcus Dysch, December 10, 2009

Historian Andrew Roberts has launched a scathing attack on British policy towards Israel, claiming only Israel itself is prepared to defend Jews from a second Holocaust.

Speaking at the Anglo-Israel Association’s annual dinner in London on Tuesday, Mr Roberts pledged to “strip away some of the myths” surrounding the relationship between the two countries.


Matt Lucas and Ron Prosor make 2010 Who's Who

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2009

Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor and comedian Matt Lucas are among the new Jewish entrants to the bible of British achievement, the 2010 edition of Who’s Who.

No hobbies are ascribed to the ambassador, but for the 35-year-old co-star of Little Britain, eating crisps and crumpets and watching football are listed among his recreations.

Channel Five controller Richard Woolfe, the chairman of London Fashion Week Harold Tillman, and paragliding theatre director Mark Rubinstein also make their debut this time.


Interview: The UK's new Jewish ambassador to Israel

By Jenni Frazer, December 10, 2009

Britain has appointed its first Jewish ambassador to Israel. And Matthew Gould, a high-flying Foreign Office diplomat, is optimistic that his posting — to begin in autumn 2010 — will send out a significant message, both to his hosts and the UK Jewish community.

Mr Gould, 38, is currently Principal Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Two of his predecessors as PPS to the foreign secretary of the day, Simon McDonald and Sherard Cowper-Coles, also went on to become British ambassador to Israel, so there is an established precedent.


Err, thanks. Fascist pub lunch raises money for hospital

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2009

Supporters of an extreme right-wing Hungarian party allied to the BNP have formed a group to promote its views in Britain.

Around 50 people came to a north London pub on Sunday for a meeting of the Jobbik Friends of Hungary UK, set up by Hungarian expats, according to the Jobbik party’s English website.

But describing the move as an “unwelcome development”, a Community Security Trust spokesman said: “We have more than enough of our own right-wing extremists, and do not need to import any more.”


Government split over Gaza war 'line'

By Martin Bright, December 10, 2009

Two government departments have clashed over official policy on the last Gaza conflict.

The Foreign Office was forced to intervene to stop a Department for Communities and Local Government initiative to reassure the Muslim community that the British government did not support Israel’s actions in Gaza, the JC can reveal.

The DCLG, which is responsible for the government’s Prevent programme to tackle violent extremism, was keen to emphasise that the British government had serious reservations about Israel’s Cast Lead operation.


PM: ‘Happy Chanucah’

December 10, 2009

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has marked the start of Chanucah by offering his warm wishes to Britain’s Jews.

In a message released on the Downing Street website, Mr Brown wrote: “As Britain’s Jewish community joins Jews all over the world in celebrating Chanucah I wanted to pass on my own warm wishes for this festival of lights.

“As you gather round the menorah, may you draw strength from the Chanucah story of how light and faith can endure the toughest of times.”


Campaign builds against Harrow mosque demo

By Martin Bright, December 10, 2009

Home Secretary Alan Johnson, local politicians and religious leaders of all denominations have joined the Jewish community in urging people to stay away from a demonstration against the building of Harrow mosque planned for this Sunday.

Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE), the organisation behind the demo, said it would press ahead with its protest against the building of the mosque and attacked Jewish leaders for opposing the demonstration.

A previous demonstration on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks ended in violence as Muslim youths chased SIOE demonstrators from the area.


Rabbi's lavish embassy welcome signals new dawn in Polish ties

By Simon Rocker, December 10, 2009

The Polish Embassy held a kosher reception on Tuesday to welcome the first rabbi born in Poland to serve in the country for 40 years.

Remarkably, Rabbi Maciej Pawlak did not even find out he was Jewish until he was 15.

Now, aged 32, he is the living embodiment of the revival of Jewish life in Poland as principal of the Lauder-Morasha Jewish day school with 200 children in Warsaw.

Hosted by the embassy, his visit to the UK was due to include an address at yesterday’s annual Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies conference at the embassy.


Ed Miliband: Climate change can unite religions

By Martin Bright, December 10, 2009

The issue of global warming has the capacity to unite faith communities in a common cause and challenge sectarianism, according to Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband.

Speaking to the JC on the eve of the UN talks on climate change in Copenhagen, Mr Miliband said it was reassuring to him that leaders from religious groups, including the Jewish community, had embraced the cause.


Jewish funeral for Beckham's grandfather

By Jessica Elgot, December 10, 2009

David Beckham has paid his respects to his Jewish grandfather Joseph West, at the funeral held in Golders Green cemetery.

Wearing a blue kippah and his grandfather’s blue Tottenham Hotspur tie, Mr Beckham and his wife Victoria joined a large gathering of friends and family at the cemetery.

Mr West, who was 83 and the father of Beckham’s mother Sandra, was described by Beckham as his “footballing inspiration” and the two were extremely close.

When Beckham received his OBE at Buckingham Palace in 2003, Joe and Sandra accompanied him to meet the Queen.