World news

Goldstone wins international prize

By Leon Symons, December 4, 2009

Richard Goldstone, the South African judge who wrote the controversial report that criticised Israel’s actions in Gaza but failed to refer to its right to defend itself, has won an international award.

Judge Goldstone has been awarded the first annual Stockholm Human Rights Award, presented jointly by the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the Swedish Bar Association and the International Bar Association, for “an outstanding contribution to promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. He was presented with the award in Stockholm.

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David Miliband: UK should talk to Hizbollah

By Jessica Elgot, December 3, 2009

Foreign Secretary David Miliband says that Britain should reopen dialogue with Hizbollah, according to an interview in a Lebanese newspaper.

But the Foreign Office said there was no change in any policy towards Hizbollah and that Mr Miliband's words had been "completely misrepresented".

Beirut newspaper the Daily Star reported that Mr Miliband said he believed "carefully considered contact with Hizbollah's politicians, including its MPs, will best advance our objective of the group rejecting violence to play a constructive role in Lebanese politics.

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Antisemitic incidents on the rise in Australia

By Dan Goldberg, December 3, 2009

Antisemitic incidents in Australia have reached record levels, although the number of physical assaults on Jews have dropped, according to an annual report.

Jeremy Jones, who has been collating data on antisemitic incidents in the country since 1989, told the annual conference of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) on Sunday that an unprecedented 962 reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation were received by Australian Jewish organisations between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009.

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Seeking tales of Jews fleeing from Arab countries

By Sue Fishkoff in San Francisco, December 3, 2009

Joseph Samuels, born Yosef Sasson in Baghdad, was 18 years old when he fled Iraq for the new state of Israel.

It was 1949, and life was becoming increasingly difficult for Jews in Iraq, as it was throughout the Arab world. Yosef’s parents urged him to leave, promising they would follow.

He took a train to the coast with his younger brother, where they crammed into a smuggler’s boat with 16 other Jewish youths. They rowed secretly to Iran, where the Sasson boys were airlifted to Israel.

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Lubavitch reopens debate on messianic beliefs

By Paul Berger, December 3, 2009

A Lubavitch website has reopened a debate over the exclusion of some Chabad rabbis from an Orthodox rabbinical organisation.

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), which is the main association of Orthodox rabbis in the US, inserted a clause in its membership application some years ago that barred rabbis “with messianic beliefs” from joining the group.

The clause refers to the belief among some in the Chabad movement that the last Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994, may one day return as the messiah.

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Demjanjuk trial opens - and closes

By Toby Axelrod, December 3, 2009

The gathering began at 6am on Monday, outside the Munich District Court: journalists and members of the public, huddling together against the pre-dawn chill.

Ultimately, against expectations, most would be let into courtroom 101/1 to witness the opening day of the Nazi war crimes trial of John Demjanjuk, charged as an accessory to the murder of 29,700 Jews at the Sobibor death camp in Poland in 1943.

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Rare, looted relief finally paid for by Berlin museum

By Leon Symons, December 3, 2009

Israel and Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical service, will benefit from the latest restitution case involving Nazi-looted art.

A 570-year-old alabaster relief of Christ carrying the cross, described as one of the most important medieval portrayals of the Passion, was owned by Harry Fuld of Frankfurt, who made a fortune from telephones and telecommunications equipment.

In 1932 his business, which had passed to his son Harry Jr, was appropriated by the Nazis. In 1936, his art collection met the same fate.

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France unlikely to back EU plan to split Jerusalem

By Jessica Elgot, December 3, 2009

France is unlikely to back Sweden in its drive to push east Jerusalem as the future Palestinian capital.

French ambassador Christophe Bigot told the Jerusalem Post that the proposal was unlikely to be approved by the 27 EU member states in its present form.

EU foreign ministers, including British Foreign Secretary David Miliband will meet on December 7 in Brussels to discuss the proposal.

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Lawyer charged in $1.2b Ponzi scheme

By Ellen Tumposky, December 3, 2009

A prominent Florida lawyer who was a major donor to US politicians and to Chabad has been charged with running a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

Scott Rothstein, 47, was arrested on five racketeering and fraud charges and could face up to 100 years in prison. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, which included conspiracy to commit money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud, and was being held without bail.

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Israel fights EU proposal to divide Jerusalem

By Anshel Pfeffer and Martin Bright, December 3, 2009

Israel is urging EU members to defer the vote on a Swedish proposal to recognise east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, due to be tabled at next week’s meeting of foreign ministers.

The UK government, meanwhile, has distanced itself from the Swedish plan, with senior sources saying that Jerusalem is not the place to start negotiations for a peace settlement because the division of the city is “too provocative”.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry says Sweden, which currently holds the EU presidency, and its foreign minister, Carl Bildt, is the main force behind the measure.

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