World news

Date set for Chilean miners' Israel tour

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011

A date has finally been set for the Chilean miners’ long-awaited visit to Israel.

Soon after “Los 33” were rescued from deep beneath the Atacama desert in October, having survived 69 days below the surface, Israel extended the offer of a “pilgrimage of thanks” to the Holy land.

The Israeli Tourism Minister, Stas Misezhnikov, said when he invited them on the all-expenses paid visit: "Your bravery and strength of spirit, your great faith that helped you survive so long in the bowels of the earth, was an inspiration to us all.”

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Arsonists attack Tunisian synagogue

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011

The security of Tunisia’s dwindling Jewish community has been called in to question following an arson attack on a synagogue in the south of the country.

Jewish communal leaders said vandals set fire to the synagogue in Tunisia’s southern Gabes region on Monday evening, damaging the Torah scrolls inside the building.

Trabelsi Perez, who also heads a community in Djerba which in 2002 was attacked by Al-Qaeda, told news agency AFP that the police had not done enough to prevent the attack.

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Jordan's King Abdullah II dismisses Prime Minister

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011

The King of Jordan has dismissed his government and named a new Prime Minister, as anti-government protests continue around the Arab world.

King Abdullah II has asked his new Prime Minister, Marouf Al Bakhit, to move the country along the path to democracy.

He has replaced Samir Rifai in the role, but it does not necessarily represent a break with the past – Mr Al Bakhit was Prime Minister from 2005 to 2007.

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Aussie poker playing grandpa wins millions

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011

A Jewish grandfather from Australia celebrated winning £1.2 million in an international poker competition by eating some fruit and going back to work.

David Gorr, who is 68 and has five grandchildren, took the top prize at the Crown Aussie Millions Main Event tournament on Sunday.

The computer-analyst from Melbourne even went straight back to work after his win. His prize, for which he beat 721 other players, also included a diamond-studded gold bracelet and a trophy.

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Egyptian opposition leader accused of being Iranian stooge

By Jennifer Lipman, February 1, 2011

A leading figure in world Jewry has labelled the Egyptian opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei “a stooge” of the Iranian regime.

Malcolm Honlein, the executive vice-president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, accused Mr ElBaradei of fronting for Iran and “distorting reports” during his 12 years as director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Another win for Black Swan's Natalie Portman

By Jennifer Lipman, January 31, 2011

Natalie Portman’s performance as a tortured and competitive prima ballerina earned her another film award last night, as the Screen Actors Guild named her Outstanding Female Actress.

The Jerusalem-born actress, who has already picked up a Golden Globe for her star turn in Black Swan, has been critically acclaimed and is expected to win her first Academy Award next month.

She was previously up for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the film Closer in 2005, but lost out to Cate Blanchett.

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Hague urges Syrian support for Middle East deal

By Jennifer Lipman, January 28, 2011

William Hague has called on Syria to “support efforts towards a comprehensive peace with Israel”.

Mr Hague, who is in Syria for his first official visit as Foreign Secretary, also said that the British government’s position is to oppose settlement building and support Syria’s claim on the Golan Heights, which have been under Israeli control for 44 years.

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Apple remove Nazi 'evil anthem' from iTunes

By Jennifer Lipman, January 27, 2011

Jewish organisations have applauded the decision by technology company Apple to remove a Nazi “anthem of evil” from sale in the ITunes store.

Until now Apple users could buy a version of the notorious marching anthem “Horst Wessel Lied” on the website.

The song, banned in Germany after the Holocaust, is dedicated to a Nazi supporter who died in 1930. It subsequently became a signature tune of the Nazi regime.

A spokesman for Apple Germany said the song was no longer on sale, however there are still concerns about the availability of other Nazi-related tracks on the site.

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Israelis warned to pay 'close attention' to Egypt riots

By Jennifer Lipman, January 27, 2011

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning for its citizens in Egypt as mass anti-government protests entered a third day.

Yossi Levy, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the department has not instated a travel ban but that it is advising people to “pay close attention to developments”.

He said: “[People should] be very cautious and obey the instructions of security officers on the ground and keep their distance from demonstrations and the centre of town,”

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Palestine papers: The view from Gaza

By Mo'een El-Helou , January 27, 2011

A political earthquake has been shaking the Palestinian territories since the release of the secret memos.

Al Jazeera and Hamas have accused the PA and Mahmoud Abbas of treason. In return, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that all the documents that had been published over the past three days "are forged and we don't know who stands behind it".

The leaked documents appeared to show that the Palestinian negotiators agreed to hand Israel control of neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem, accept Israel as a Jewish state and give up calling for the right of return.

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