World news

Love Story author Erich Segal dies

By Jessica Elgot, January 19, 2010

The American author Erich Segal, who wrote the bestselling novel Love Story, has died aged 72.

He died after a heart attack at home on Sunday, and was buried at Golders Green's Hoop Lane cemetery today.

The son of a rabbi, Mr Segal obtained a doctorate at Harvard. He later became professor of Greek and Latin literature at Harvard University, Yale University and Princeton University. At the time of his death, he was a professor at Wolfson College, Oxford University.

In 1967 he wrote the screenplay for The Beatles' 1968 film Yellow Submarine.


Jewish man missing in Haiti earthquake

By Jessica Elgot, January 19, 2010

A Jewish Canadian is missing in Haiti after the earthquake, Israeli rescue teams have reported.

The family of Alexander Shmuel Bitton say that he had just arrived at the Montana Hotel in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, when the earthquake struck.

Mr Bitton’s colleague, known only as Martin, said he saw Mr Bitton at the hotel reception desk and arranged to meet him by the poolside bar.

When the earthquake struck, Martin was waiting for Mr Bitton by the pool. He has not been seen since.


Award for Chief Rabbi's book

By Jessica Elgot, January 18, 2010

The Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has won a National Jewish Book Award for his new book Covenant and Conversation - Genesis.

The Chief Rabbi won the American award in the ‘Religion’ category for his work which is the first volume in a series of five.

The book is on Torah, and is based originally on his weekly online commentaries.

Extracts from the book were featured in the JC, and can be found here.


Crete synagogue's second arson attack

By Jessica Elgot, January 18, 2010

A Crete synagogue has been targeted by arsonists for the second time in two weeks.

Police said the attack took place around 4am yesterday when vandals broke into the first floor of the Etz-Hayyim Synagogue in the seaside town of Hania.

The blaze destroyed part of the shul’s wooden ceiling as well as much of the synagogue’s archives. Around 2,500 books, many of which are rare editions have been destroyed in the two attacks.

Synagogue director Nikos Stavroulakis added that four computers and 300 CDs and cassette tapes of Jewish music were also destroyed.


Row over conversion organisation EJF 'sex scandal'

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2010

An extraordinary war of words has broken out over the scandal-racked conversion organisation Eternal Jewish Family, whose founder quit last month over sex allegations.

Rabbi Aba Dunner, the London-based executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis, rounded on the EJF this week, telling the VosIzNeias news site that he would continue to try to stop the organisation’s “nefarious activities”.

But EJF hit back, accusing Rabbi Dunner of not refunding money that it had given to the CER.


DNA test the jury - they might be Jewish

By Jessica Elgot, January 15, 2010

A Pakistani scientist accused of working for al-Qaeda has asked for the jury at her trial to be genetically tested to prove they are not Jewish.

Aafia Siddiqui, a former neuroscientist on trial in New York, has demanded that no Jews be allowed to take part in her trial.

Ms Siddiqui, 37, was educated at two prestigious US universities, including optaining a PhD at Brandeis University and left the US in 2003 after marrying an al-Qaeda operative, Ammar al-Blackuch, nephew of the man behind September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.


Property boss claims £22m in fraud case

By Paul Berger, January 14, 2010

A British property tycoon claims to be one of the principal victims of an alleged $200 million fraud targeting Orthodox Jews.

Berish Berger, one of Britain’s biggest post-war private landlords, along with about a dozen, mostly Jewish, plaintiffs, is suing Eliyahu Weinstein of Lakewood, New Jersey.

They claim that Weinstein, 35, tricked them into investing in a string of dubious property deals.

Mr Berger, worth an estimated £35 million according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List, says Mr Weinstein
swindled him out of £22 million.


Crisis after Israel 'humiliates' Turkey

By Anshel Pfeffer and Sami Kohen, January 14, 2010

Relations between Israel and Turkey hit an all-time low this week after Israel’s deputy foreign minister publicly humiliated the Turkish ambassador in Jerusalem.

Turkey threatened to order its ambassador home and the matter was only resolved after Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon personally apologised, twice.

The row broke out on Monday when Mr Ayalon called in Turkish Ambassador Oguz Celikkol to rebuke him over the second drama series to be broadcast on Turkish television recently showing Israeli agents murdering civilians.


Analysis: Death of Iranian nuclear scientist will be costly

By Meir Javedanfar, January 14, 2010

The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Masoud Ali Mohammadi, who was killed on Tuesday when a motorcycle bomb was detonated outside his home, does not bode well for the Iranian government.

If his assassins were from foreign intelligence agencies or opposition groups, it would mean that the security of Iran’s nuclear programme has been seriously compromised — so much so that foreign operatives feel confident enough to eliminate their targets in broad daylight.


Pope visits Rome synagogue as Pius row rages

By Ruth Ellen Gruber, January 14, 2010

Pope Benedict’s XVI’s visit to Rome’s main synagogue on Sunday is intended to mark a major step forward in Catholic-Jewish relations.

But it is overshadowed by uproars over recent papal decisions that angered Jews.

“The pope apparently has chosen to balance his unquestionable commitment to the Catholic Church’s good relations with world Judaism with his commitment to recuperating the religious right wing of Catholicism,” said Lisa Palmieri Billig, the American Jewish Committee’s liaison to the Vatican.