World news

Israel's man in Washington gets a lesson in diplomacy

By Nathan Guttman, July 1, 2010

Israel's ambassador to the US stepped into a verbal minefield this week after newspapers in Israel quoted him warning that relations between Jerusalem and Washington are on the rocks.

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Gay Pride row over Israel deepens

By Ron Csillag, July 1, 2010

Organisers of Toronto's annual Gay Pride parade have reversed a decision to ban use of the phrase "Israeli apartheid" in the event.

A bitter row involving back-and-forth allegations of censorship and antisemitism has raged ever since a local activist group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), announced its intention to march in the July 4 parade.

Jewish groups, backed by several prominent politicians, convinced Pride that QuAIA was violating Toronto's anti-discrimination policies. Several weeks ago Pride organisers ruled the group could march, but not under its name.

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German may be jailed for Hitler ring tone

By Jennifer Lipman, June 30, 2010

Grating mobile phone ringtones are the bane of every train passenger’s existence, but one carriage of Germans reported a particularly unsettling one.

Shocked listeners in Hamburg heard a phone ring several times to the tune of a speech made by Adolf Hitler calling for the “destruction of world Jewry”.

They reported the man to the police and he now faces up to six months in jail for using the hate speech as his ring tone.

The 54-year-old German was also found to have a photo of Hitler on his phone captioned “the greatest commander of all time”, as well as swastika stickers.

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France to reveal Nazi collaborators

By Jennifer Lipman, June 30, 2010

Archives containing the names of French citizens who collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust are to be published online.

The release of the names of thousands of collaborators will enable survivors to find out who betrayed them and their loved ones during the four years France was occupied by the Nazis.

Until now the hidden files dating back 70 years have been stored in a Paris basement, but now a court ruling means they can be opened to the public.

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Nazi hunter slams Latvian Holocaust parade

By Jennifer Lipman, June 30, 2010

The world’s most prominent Nazi hunter has condemned Latvian officials for allowing an event commemorating the Nazi invasion of Riga to go ahead.

Efraim Zuroff, of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Israel, criticised the refusal by a Latvian court to call off the procession on July 1 as an “outrage”.

Mr Zuroff said: "To celebrate the anniversary is to celebrate the mass murder of all those victimised by the Nazis in Latvia -- primarily Jews, but also Communists, Gypsies and the mentally ill.”

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Jewish Michael Jackson jailed

By Jennifer Lipman, June 30, 2010

A father of 11 who has described himself as Orthodox Jewish music’s answer to Michael Jackson will now have more time to work on his vocals after being found guilty of grand larceny.

Michoel Streicher has been sentenced to up to three years behind bars for stealing nearly £24,000.

He took the money from a woman who wanted to buy a Torah scroll for a dying relative.

Judy Burstein wanted to build a “mini synagogue” at home and was a fan of Mr Streicher, who released several albums in the 1990s.

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Larry King leaving TV show

By Jennifer Lipman, June 30, 2010

American television presenter Larry King has announced he will be calling it a day this autumn.

The 76 year old, who has been a star interviewer for CNN for a quarter of a century, told his followers on Twitter that “it’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders.” He is famed for wearing red braces while on air.

He said his departure would give him more time for his wife and children, although added that he would still present special programmes and remain “part of the CNN family”.

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Julia Gillard: Israel views my own

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2010

Australia’s first female Prime Minister has denied claims her stance on Israel is influenced by her partner’s connection to a Jewish businessman.

Jewish groups have also denounced the smear against Julia Gillard by a former Australian ambassador to Israel.

The Welsh-born politician, who won the leadership after ousting fellow Labour politician Kevin Rudd, was accused by diplomat Ross Burns of being "remarkably taciturn on the excesses of Israeli actions."

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Swiss Jewish leader mourned

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2010

The former president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) has died in hospital at 78.

Alfred Donath, a professor of nuclear medicine, was a tireless campaigner for Jewish causes.

He headed SIG from 2000 until 2008, and was committed to the organisation for many years before that.

Among the issues he championed was the campaign to help the relatives of Nazi victims retrieve money from Swiss banks.

He was the SIG vice president in 1998 when the banks finally reached an out-of-court settlement and paid heirs more than £800 million.

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Kagan hearings start in Washington

By Jennifer Lipman, June 29, 2010

Hearings have begun in Washington to confirm a Jewish woman as a judge on America’s highest court.

US President Barack Obama nominated his solicitor-general Elena Kagan for a position on the Supreme Court in May 2010. She faces at least two days of questions from a panel of 19 Democrats and Republicans.

If she is confirmed - and Republican critics have promised she will face tough questioning – a third of the nine Supreme Court justices would be Jewish. The other six members are Catholic.

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