World news

Wiesel: Outrage at Jerusalem letter

By Jessica Elgot, May 13, 2010

Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel has sparked outrage in Jerusalem for an open letter he wrote to US President Barack Obama urging him not to ‘politicise’ Jerusalem.

The American-based academic and Holocaust survivor wrote to President Obama: “For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics.

"It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain.

“The first song I heard was my mother's lullaby about and for Jerusalem. Its sadness and its joy are part of our collective memory."

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Historic Shanghai synagogue opens

By Erica Lyons, May 13, 2010

The Chinese government has permitted the temporary re-opening of the historic Ohel Rachel synagogue in Shanghai, one of only two synagogues in the city.

The Ohel Rachel building , which is 90 years old, was seized by the Communist government in 1952 and has been used as a storage facility ever since. It is currently in a state of disrepair but is still seen by Shanghai Jews as a spiritual focal point.

The re-opening, for six months only, is intended to coincide with the Shanghai Expo, which opened on May 1 and will end on October 31.

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Third Jew may join the US Supreme Court

By Nathan Guttman, May 13, 2010

If Elena Kagan, President Obama's choice for the US Supreme Court, is confirmed by the Senate, it will be the first time three woman justices are in the Supreme Court at the same time.

For the US Jewish community, Ms Kagan's appointment is another landmark. She will be the third Jew sitting Supreme Court justice, joining Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

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Mother-in-law jokes OK, court rules

May 13, 2010

An American federal court judge has defended one woman's right to make jokes about her mother-in-law.

Comic Sunda Croonquist, who is a regular on the Hollywood comedy circuit, was taken to court by her husband's mother, Ruth Zafrin, for allegedly spreading false, defamatory and racist lies about her.

Ms Croonquist, who is half-Swedish and half-black, converted to Judaism before she met her husband, and regularly jokes about her relationship with her mother-in law and sister-in-law.

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Israeli man's body found by picnickers

By Edward Doks, May 13, 2010

The mutilated body of a 25-year-old Israeli man has been found in Kiev by picnickers.

Arie Amigud Leibovich (also known as Stanislav Mizernov) disappeared three weeks ago after hosting a party with his flatmate.

Police have arrested a computer technician who has confessed to the murder and even reconstructed it for them.

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Analysis: Greece could learn from Israel's journey

By Dan Gerstenfeld, May 13, 2010

VIt is only symbolic that the announcement of Israel's acceptance to the lucrative economic club of developed countries, the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation and Development, comes just one week after Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer began his second term.

When Mr Fischer, former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, stepped into the central bank building in Jerusalem in May 2005, the Rhodesian-born professor of economics announced that one of his main objectives was to help Israel get accepted as a member of the OECD.

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Russian President to Hamas: Free Shalit

By Jessica Elgot, May 12, 2010

Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev has called for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit at a meeting with Hamas leaders in Damascus.

President Medvedev also called for the Middle East to rid itself of nuclear weapons and signed a bilateral agreement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia is the only country which has direct relations with Hamas.

President Medvedev’s spokeswoman, Natalya Timkova, said: “The Russian president urged solving the problem of releasing Israeli citizen Gilad Shalit as soon as possible."

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Jewish woman is nominee for Supreme Court

By Jessica Elgot, May 11, 2010

US President Barack Obama has nominated his solicitor-general Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court.

Ms Kagan’s appointment would be the first time three women will serve as part of the nine judges who form the Supreme Court, and the fourth woman to serve in the country’s history.

Her appointment would also mean she is the third Jewish member of the Supreme Court, joining six Catholic members. Fellow female judge Ruth Ginsberg is also Jewish, as is Stephen Breyer.

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Goldstone responds to 'death penalty' allegations

By Jessica Elgot, May 6, 2010

Judge Richard Goldstone has told the JC that his role as a judge in apartheid South Africa does not preclude him from judging war crimes.

Judge Goldstone authored the controversial UN report into Operation Cast Lead, which found both Israel and Hamas guilty of war crimes.

Israeli newspaper Yediot reported that, as a judge on the South African court of appeals in the 1980s-90s, he sentenced 28 black people to death, writing in one of his verdicts: "The gallows is the only deterrent for murderers". Other allegations were also published about his time as a judge in South Africa.

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Dubai officials seek five more for Hamas murder

By Jessica Elgot, May 6, 2010

Dubai officials have identified five new suspects in their enquiry into the murder of a senior Hamas terrorist in January.

The additional suspects bring the total to 32. They are accused of being part of a hit squad in Dubai who murdered Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury hotel.

International investigators believe an Israeli national, Zev Barkan, who was sought in New Zealand in 2004 for passport fraud, may be connected to the Dubai case.

He has never directly faced enquiries in New Zealand since he was suspected of forging New Zealand passports.

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