UK news

Sounds of survivors go online

By Simon Rocker, January 29, 2009

The British Library has put its complete collection of oral testimonies of Shoah survivors online.

Over 440 hours of interviews with 66 people recorded by the library’s sound archive can now be publicly accessed.

Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust covers refugees who escaped Nazi Germany pre-war, and those who survived in hiding or endured the camps.

Rob Perks, curator of oral history at the archive, said: “These oral testimonies personalise the enormity of the Holocaust in a very direct and human way, emphasising the variety and complexity of individual experience.


Aid minister reveals UK’s Gaza aid package

By Leon Symons, January 23, 2009

Britain has given the first tranche of around £27 million in humanitarian aid to United Nations agencies working to bring relief to the inhabitants of Gaza.

Department for International Aid Minister Mike Foster went to Israel hours after it declared a ceasefire and talked to Israeli ministers, the Palestinian Authority and UN and international aid officials about how to get aid into Gaza as quickly as possible.

Mr Foster told Israeli officials that there needed to be as many as 500 trucks of aid going into the area every day to meet the needs of the Palestinians.


UK asylum guide attracts legal aid

January 22, 2009

Leading human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy has praised a new publication about asylum in Britain, co-authored by the director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, Dr Edie Friedman.

Addressing the launch of Reluctant Refuge: The Story of Asylum in Britain, Baroness Kennedy declared: “This book is an incredible resource for anybody who wants to campaign on this issue and I want to see it in the hands of every MP.” It was vital to preserve the stories of past generations who had sought asylum in Britain.


Substitute stars in peace talks

By Jay Grenby, January 22, 2009

A representative of grassroots peace organisation One Voice had to pull out of an adult education event at Woodside Park Synagogue to fly back to the Middle East to comfort a colleague after the death of several family members in Gaza.

The breach was filled at short notice by One Voice partnerships director Jake Hayman, who explained the aims of the organisation to a 50-strong audience, including many members of the shul’s youth group.


MPs urge hate-attack clampdown

By Bernard Josephs, January 22, 2009

A parliamentary motion condemning attacks on the Jewish community as a result of the war in Gaza has been signed by more than 40 MPs - including critics of Israel. The MPs called on the government to stamp down on a wave of antisemitic incidents.

The motion, sponsored by Labour MP John Mann, chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Antisemitism, also attacked the growing number of extremist websites, one of which calls for attacks against Jews around the world.


Kaufman blasted for ‘Nazi’ remark

By Leon Symons, January 22, 2009

Metro, the London freesheet, published an apology and changed the wording of a poll it ran on Monday which appeared to compare Israel with the Nazis.

The poll was based on comments made during a House of Commons debate on Gaza by Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman last week.

Sir Gerald, MP for Manchester Gorton, had said: “On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians—the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that ‘500 of them were militants’.


Tony Benn: 'Expel the Israel envoy'

By Marcus Dysch, January 22, 2009

Former Labour MP Tony Benn used a demonstration in Trafalgar Square to call for Israel’s ambassador to Britain to be expelled from the country.

Speaking last Saturday, Mr Benn, president of the Stop the War Coalition, accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza and said Ron Prosor should be banished in response.

He also said Israeli airlines should be banned from landing planes at British airports.

Similar calls to remove Mr Prosor were made during a parliamentary debate on the conflict last week.


Masked thugs stamp on man in 'revenge'

By Leon Symons, January 22, 2009

Two masked thugs beat up a Jewish man in north-west London on Saturday night in what they said was revenge for Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Michael Bookatz was going home after eating with a friend in Golders Green when he was attacked as he walked along Sinclair Avenue.

Mr Bookatz, a 31-year-old computer software developer, said: “I saw a man walking towards me. Suddenly he broke into a run and punched me in the face.


Jewdas sorry over hoax email

By Leon Symons, January 22, 2009

The maverick group Jewdas has apologised to the Board of Deputies for trying to wreck last week’s pro-Israel Trafalgar Square rally.

Jewdas said that it would also transfer an internet domain name that it used to the Board and gave its “guarantee” that it would not impersonate the Board again.


Public does not blame Israel for war, says survey

By Rachel Silver, January 22, 2009

A majority of the British public does not single out Israel as the side responsible for the conflict in Gaza, according to a survey published this week.

Only 18 per cent of those polled put the blame largely on Israel, while 24 per cent laid the blame for the three-week long Operation Cast Lead squarely on Hamas.

Fifty-eight per cent either blamed both sides for the conflict or were unsure of whom to blame.

The poll, carried out by the research organisation YouGov, sampled the views of 2,077 people.