World news

Fake Guggenheims tried to defraud ex-president

February 10, 2011

They may have called themselves "Guggenheim". But when it came to the art of the steal, the three supposed multi-millionaires were quickly spotted as likely fakes.

David Birnbaum, Vladimir Zuravel and Catarina Pietra Toumei appeared in federal court this week accused of posing as members or associates of the Guggenheim family to swindle investors out of millions of dollars.

Their targets appear to have included presidents George Bush and George W Bush, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and Coca-Cola Company executives.

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Cyclone hits Australia's Jewish suburbs

By Dan Goldberg, February 10, 2011

Flash flooding triggered by a category five cyclone wreaked havoc on Melbourne's Jewish community last weekend.

Wild waters ripped through several suburbs heavily populated by the city's 50,000-strong Jewish community last Friday night, flooding at least four synagogues, two Jewish schools, a kosher café, the headquarters of the Australian Jewish News and the National Council of Jewish Women.

The Sephardi Synagogue was closed on Shabbat because the men's section was flooded, while other shuls suffered damage to halls, foyers and administrative areas.

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Dutch urge swift fine for Holocaust denial

By Toby Axelrod, February 10, 2011

Punish Holocaust-deniers in the same way that we punish drink-drivers - haul them into court and fine them.

That is one of several novel suggestions made by two Dutch political parties, the Christian Union and the Reformed Political Party, in response to rising antisemitism in the country.

The parties also suggested the use of "Jewish decoys" - an idea floated by the Mayor of Amsterdam last year - to lure perpetrators, and immediate fines for antisemitic harassment.

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How Chabad triggered a superpower art war

By Paul Berger, February 10, 2011

Russia has halted the loan of artworks to major American museums because of a row between the Russian government and Chabad.

Works by Gauguin, Cézanne and Canaletto will be missing from exhibitions opening this month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, and at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Russian officials ordered state-run museums, such as the State Hermitage Museum and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, not to release the works for fear they may be confiscated by US courts.

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Muslim Brotherhood could rethink Israel-Egypt treaty

By Jennifer Lipman, February 9, 2011

If the Muslim Brotherhood takes power in Egypt, its first move could be to review the peace process with Israel.

Banned under President Hosni Mubarak, the Islamist group is understood to have the support of just a quarter of Egyptian voters, but is well-organised and has been vocal since anti-government protests erupted more than two weeks ago.

Mr Mubarak has promised to hold free elections in Egypt. If these go ahead, the Muslim Brotherhood are likely to field candidates.

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Barbra Streisand to sing live at Grammy awards

By Jennifer Lipman, February 9, 2011

Barbra Streisand is to delight fans with an unusual live performance this weekend.

The singer will take to the stage at the annual Grammy awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, where she is nominated for her album Love Is the Answer.

She will also be honoured on Friday for "creative accomplishments and philanthropy" by the Grammy's charitable foundation MusiCares.

A performance at the event celebrating her five-decade career in music and film is expected to include Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder.

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Muslim Brotherhood: Egypt revolution not Islamist

By Jennifer Lipman, February 8, 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the suggestion that there is an Islamist agenda to Egypt’s uprising.

A statement posted online by Khaled Hamza, editor of the Egyptian Islamist group’s English-language website, said: “The current uprising in Egypt is a revolution of the Egyptian people.

“It is by no means linked to any Islamic tendencies, despite allegations, nor can it be described as Islamic.”

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Soros, Bloomberg top donation list

By Jennifer Lipman, February 7, 2011

Jewish financier and Holocaust survivor George Soros has topped a list of the most generous American philanthropists over the last year.

Mr Soros, who was born in Hungary, donated or pledged to donate £205 million in 2010.

The money will go to Human Rights Watch and to other organisations under the umbrella of his Open Society Foundations.

Last year he appeared at sixth on the list, compiled annually by the Chronicle of Philanthropy magazine.

Other Jewish men and women in the top ten included New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

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Joe Lieberman quits politics to write Jewish book

By Jennifer Lipman, February 4, 2011

The first viable Jewish candidate for vice president of the United States is to write a book about the religion.

Senator Joe Lieberman, who narrowly lost out on the White House when he and his running-mate Al Gore were beaten by George W Bush in the 2000 presidential election, is working on a book about Shabbat.

Mr Lieberman, who is observant, announced he would not stand for re-election in Connecticut when his term expires next year.

Instead, he will focus on writing, with David Klinghoffer, “Gift of Rest”, a contemplation of his Jewish faith.

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German shul in barn restored

By Toby Axelrod, February 3, 2011

What would you do if you discovered that a dilapidated barn in a nearby village is actually a 186-year-old shul?

Brigitta Stammer, from Gottingen in Lower Saxony, decided, as many others might, to help restore the building to its original purpose.

But this was no ordinary restoration. In order to complete the rebirth of the half-timbered synagogue, Ms Stammer took part in a project to move it, piece by piece, from its location in Bodenfelde to Gottingen, where she lives. And, what's more, Ms Stammer is not even Jewish.

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