World news

Auschwitz sign thief hunted in Sweden

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2010

Poland has issued a European arrest warrant for a Swedish man whom it says is behind the theft of the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei” sign at Auschwitz in December.

A court in Krakow issued the warrant for Swede Anders Hoegstroem, who, it is claimed, was the mastermind of the theft of the sign, which infamously read “Work Sets You Free” above the Nazi death camp.

Five Polish men aged in their 20s and 30s have been arrested by police who recovered the 16-foot wrought-iron sign cut into three pieces.

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Leonard Cohen's lifetime achievement Grammy

By Jessica Elgot, February 1, 2010

Singer Leonard Cohen has been awarded a lifetime achievement Grammy at the weekend’s awards ceremony in Los Angeles, alongside the late Michael Jackson.

The Hallelujah singer, 75, said he had never actually won a Grammy, the most high-profile American music award, for his recorded work, but had appeared on a Herbie Hancock CD that won Album of the Year in 2008.

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J D Salinger dies

By Jessica Elgot, January 29, 2010

JD Salinger, the Catcher in the Rye novelist who has died aged 91, grew up an observant Jew until after his barmitzvah when he discovered his mother was not Jewish.

Born in Manhattan, his father, Sol Salinger, was a Polish Jew who sold kosher cheeses. His mother Marie, who changed her name to Miriam, was of mixed Scottish-Irish descent but posed as Jewish after her marriage.

After his discovery shortly after his barmitzvah that his mother was not Jewish, Salinger embarked on a quest for religious fulfilment.

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IDF welcomed home from Haiti

By Jessica Elgot, January 28, 2010

The IDF delegation to Haiti were given a heroes’ welcome on their return to Israel.

Senior officials of the Israel Defense Forces and the government attended the ceremony as the 200-man team touched down at Ben Gurion airport.

More than 200,000 people are believed to have died in the devastating earthquake in the capital Port-au-Prince on January 12.

The forces made the decision to pull out of the country after the arrival of more aid organizations and more US emergency workers. They have brought back a 5-year-old child from Haiti to Israel for heart surgery.

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Warner Bros 'sued for Brittany Murphy's death'

By Robyn Rosen, January 28, 2010

Simon Monjack, the British husband of Brittany Murphy, the 32-year-old actress who died last year, has allegedly revealed plans to sue Warner Brothers for wrongful death.

Ms Murphy, the star of Clueless and 8 Mile, died on December 20 in Los Angeles after reportedly collapsing in the shower at the home she shared with her Jewish husband.

Mr Monjack allegedly told American news website, The Daily Beast that the actress died of a heart attack from the stress caused by Warner Brother’s cancelling of a contract two weeks before she died.

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French cemetary vanadalised by neo-Nazis

By Marcus Dysch, January 28, 2010

Dozens of Jewish graves were found desecrated in a French cemetery on Holocaust Memorial Day.

At least 30 headstones in Strasbourg were daubed with antisemitic graffiti. Swastikas were painted on 18 graves, and 13 were overturned. The phrase “Juden Raus” [Jews Out] was written on one grave.

The umbrella group Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), which represents the French Jewish community and tackles antisemitism, said it was not clear whether the incident was linked to the memorial day.

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Analysis: Germany gets tough on Iran

By Meir Javedanfar, January 28, 2010

Until recently, when it came to taking a hard line against Iran, Germany was seen as less enthusiastic than other major European powers such as France and the UK.

Lately the German government seems to have shifted its position. This week, Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to back tougher sanctions and the German giant Siemens stated that it will cut future trade with Tehran.

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New Jersey fraud scandal: the trial begins

By Paul Berger, January 28, 2010

Government informer Solomon Dwek is expected to be a key witness in the first trial to arise from New Jersey’s largest-ever public corruption bust.

Jersey City deputy mayor Leona Beldini was accused this week in court of accepting $20,000 in illegal campaign donations from Mr Dwek.

Mr Dwek, a property developer in New Jersey’s Syrian Jewish community, posed as a crooked businessman looking to bribe officials in return for planning permission. In fact, he was a federal informant working for the FBI after being caught trying to defraud a bank out of $50 million in 2006.

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Israel will not extradite alleged sex offender to US

By Paul Berger, January 28, 2010

A strictly Orthodox man suspected of molesting children has escaped extradition from Israel to the US.

Abraham Mondrowitz fled to Jerusalem in 1985 after being charged with sodomising four boys in Brooklyn. According to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, Mondrowitz gained the trust of parents by passing himself off as a school psychologist using a phony degree. An attempt by the Brooklyn DA’s office to return Mondrowitz to America in 1985 failed because the alleged crime was not covered by an extradition agreement with Israel.

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The last survivors return to Auschwitz

By Toby Axelrod in Krakow, January 28, 2010

On a midwinter morning at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site, jagged icicles cling to the buildings.

Yet this week, visitors made their way under the famous gate — with a replica sign “Arbeit Macht Frei”, following the theft of the original last month — seemingly oblivious to the cold. They came to learn, to absorb and to bring a message home.

Wednesday marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of this notorious death camp. About 1.5 million people were murdered here; 90 per cent of the victims were Jews.

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