World news

George W Bush reveals Abbas rejected secret peace deal

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 11, 2010

Much has been written about former US president George W Bush's new book, Decision Points, but one section has remained largely under the media radar.

According to Mr Bush, a peace deal was put together in secret talks between former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, including the handing over of the "vast majority" of the West Bank to a Palestinian state, but with some areas close to the pre-1967 borders that include Israeli settlements to remain within Israel.

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Nobel laureates will oppose Israel boycott

By Paul Berger, November 11, 2010

Almost 40 Nobel laureates have signed a statement opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Roger Kornberg, of Stanford University, and Steven Weinberg, of the University of Texas at Austin, drafted the document, which specifically criticises academic boycotts.

The statement, organised by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, declared: "We believe that the university should serve as an open, tolerant and respectful, co-operative and collaborative community engaged in practices of resolving complex problems."

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17 charged over £25 million Holocaust survivor fraud

By Paul Berger, November 11, 2010

Seventeen people have been charged with participating in a wide-ranging and long-running conspiracy to defraud the Claims Conference out of $42.5 million (£25 million).

Six of those named in New York this week were current or former employees of the organisation that supports Holocaust survivors around the world.

The employees allegedly approved more than 5,500 fraudulent claims over more than 15 years.

Claims Conference chairman Julius Berman called the fraud "an affront to human decency".

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Son of child-abuser rabbi 'victim of £155k extortion'

By Paul Berger, November 11, 2010

A millionaire businessman has been charged with trying to extort $250,000 (£155,000) out of the son of a rabbi convicted of sexual abuse.

Simon Taub allegedly threatened to accuse Meyer Lebovits, 31, of molesting Mr Taub's son unless he paid the money.

Mr Lebovits's father, Rabbi Baruch Lebovits, was convicted earlier this year of abusing a 16-year-old boy. He was sentenced to up to 32 years in prison.

After receiving the first allegedly threatening call from Mr Taub, 61, Mr Lebovits contacted the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

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Corruption more important than peace for Israelis?

By Nathan Jeffay, November 11, 2010

Fighting government corruption is a higher national priority for Jewish Israelis than peace with the Palestinians, according to a new Tel Aviv University poll.

One in four Jewish Israelis, asked to identify the most urgent issue the government needs to deal with, chose war on corruption and clean governance. Israeli-Palestinian peace, selected by one in five Jewish respondents, came in joint second place alongside closing socioeconomic gaps.

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US Jews call for kindness

By Simon Rocker, November 11, 2010

A leading American Jewish organisation has launched a campaign to get Jews to speak more kindly to each other, alarmed by the fractious tone that has crept into community debate.

More than 150 rabbis and community leaders have signed up to the Statement of Civility issued by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), which wants to encourage a "respectful and healthy debate" without acrimony.

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Rally to mark 1,600 days since Gilad Shalit kidnap

By Jennifer Lipman, November 11, 2010

A rally is to be held in Washington DC today marking 1,600 days since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas.

Organisers are hoping to attract at least the same number of people to the humanitarian rally for the soldier, who has been in captivity since June 25 2006.

His parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit, have been camped outside of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem since June, in an attempt to pressure the government into striking a deal for their son’s release.

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Controversy over anti-Israel Kristallnacht speaker

By Jennifer Lipman, November 10, 2010

The choice of a writer seen to be disproportionately critical of Israel as the speaker at a Kristallnacht memorial ceremony has been described as “unnecessary”.

German-French academic Alfred Grosser was invited by Frankfurt Mayor Petra Roth to speak at an event on Tuesday evening marking 72 years since the pogrom.

Members of the German Jewish community had warned that they might walk out of the talk in protest at his invitation but did not do so.

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Controversy over anti-Israel Kristallnacht speaker

By Jennifer Lipman, November 10, 2010

The choice of a writer seen to be disproportionately critical of Israel as the speaker at a Kristallnacht memorial ceremony has been described as “unnecessary”.

German-French academic Alfred Grosser was invited by Frankfurt Mayor Petra Roth to speak at an event on Tuesday evening marking 72 years since the pogrom.

Members of the German Jewish community had warned that they might walk out of the talk in protest at his invitation but did not do so.

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Brittany Murphy's mum writing biography

By Jennifer Lipman, November 10, 2010

The mother of the late Brittany Murphy has announced that she is to write a biography of her daughter.

Sharon Murphy, who is Ashkenazi Jewish, said the biography would be an accurate account of her daughter’s “life, loves, and career."

Ms Murphy, an actress famous for roles in Clueless and 8 Mile, died in December 2009 at the age of 32.

Her husband, British Jewish screenwriter Simon Monjack, died five months later from acute pneumonia.

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