World news

Charities face losing Ponzi millions

By Ellen Tumposky, December 22, 2010

Jewish organisations ranging from major players to small non-profits will be forced to give up millions of dollars as a result of "clawback" lawsuits filed by the trustee representing the victims of fraudster Bernard Madoff.

While Hadassah was never sued by Irving Picard, the trustee who this month unleashed a barrage of clawback actions, it announced earlier this month that it had agreed to pay back $45 million.

This sum, agreed after lengthy negotiations with Mr Picard, was slightly less than half of the profits Hadassah had made from investing with Madoff since 1988.

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'Kosher' gym takes off in Paris

By Michel Zlotowski, December 22, 2010

Finally, paris has what communities in many European cities have long yearned for: a place where the observant can keep fit and keep modest at the same time.

Kosher Gym, located in the heart of Paris's northern Jewish community in the 19th arrondissement, offers the facilities of "regular" gyms - including showers and locker rooms - but, as its creator, David Cohen, says: "There is no problem of tzniut because no male is around when women are in the gym."

Mr Cohen, who spent a year in a yeshivah near Paris learning Torah and playing football, loves to work out in his spare time.

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'Marine Le Pen? Chip off the old block'

By Michel Zlotowski, December 22, 2010

A regional leader of the Council of French Jewish Organisations (CRIF), Marcel Amsellem, has warned Jews not to be deceived by the National Front's possible new leader, Marine Le Pen, whose popularity is on the rise in France.

"Those who believed Marine Le Pen would be more acceptable than her father are unbelievably gullible and of bad faith," said Mr Amsellem.

A recent poll indicates that Marine Le Pen, 42, the youngest daughter of extreme-right wing leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, is due to get 12 to 14 per cent of votes in the 2012 presidential election.

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Ilan Halimi murderers retried

By Michel Zlotowski, December 22, 2010

The President of the Council of French Jewish Organisations, Richard Prasquier, said he was satisfied with the retrial of the self-proclaimed "Gang of Barbarians" who tortured to death Ilan Halimi five years ago.

A court of appeal handed stiffer sentences to the two main accomplices of gang leader Yusuf Fofana, who had their convictions increased from 15 to 18 years. The rest of the accused had their first sentence confirmed.

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It's the top ten hate slurs of 2010

By Nathan Jeffay, December 22, 2010

As musicians fight to top the Christmas charts, a Jewish organisation has published an altogether less flattering top ten - the worst antisemitic slurs of 2010. Those honoured include the Independent columnist Christina Patterson, who penned a diatribe against London's Charedim in July.

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Four million Jewish Holocaust victims identified

By Jennifer Lipman, December 22, 2010

Two-thirds of the Jewish victims of the Nazis have now been identified.

Since the Holocaust ended, there has been an ongoing effort to identify the six million Jews and millions more non-Jewish people slaughtered by the Nazis.

But 65 years on, there are still two million whose identities are not known.

Although the Nazis kept meticulous records during the Holocaust, many documents were destroyed during the war and whole families were wiped out.

Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum is dedicated to finding the names of as many as possible.

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Elie Wiesel: free Gilad Shalit, Liu Xiaobo and Sakineh Ashtiani

By Jennifer Lipman, December 21, 2010

Holocaust survivor and human rights advocate Elie Wiesel has launched a campaign to secure the release of three prominent prisoners from Israel, Iran and China.

Mr Wiesel’s Foundation for Humanity has set up a petition demanding the freedom of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

The petition says: "While we and our families celebrate this holiday season let us remember these and so many more political prisoners and their families around the world.”

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Call to speed up genocide trial of alleged Serbian Nazi

By Jennifer Lipman, December 21, 2010

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has appealed to US authorities to help justice to be done by speeding up the extradition of a man accused of Nazi war crimes.

Peter Egner, allegedly a member of the Belgrade Gestapo during the Holocaust, will face charges of genocide if he is extradited to his former home of Serbia.

The 88-year-old, who is German but was born and raised in what was then Yugoslavia, is suspected of serving in an Einsatzgruppe, one of the mobile Nazi units, which was responsible for the deaths of 17,000 civilians, including Jews, Roma and political captives.

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WikiLeaks: antisemitic campaign to shut Libyan M&S

By Jennifer Lipman, December 21, 2010

The Libyan government attempted to force the Tripoli branch of retail chain Marks & Spencer to close using a "repugnant antisemitic" smear campaign and “pseudo-populist rhetoric against ‘the force

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New York rabbi fights US Army beard ban

By Jennifer Lipman, December 20, 2010

A rabbi hoping to become chaplain to US troops has run into a problem as plain as the hair on his face – his beard.

According to the army’s strict regulations on appearance, anyone serving the military must be clean - shaven, but Chabad rabbi Menachem Stern has a long black beard.

Rabbi Stern was refused a job as a military chaplain last year after he claimed it would contradict his religious beliefs to trim it.

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