World news

'Extraordinary' Tullia Zevi mourned

By Jennifer Lipman, January 24, 2011

The JC’s longtime Italy correspondent and the only female president of Italian Jewry in history has died at the age of 91.

Tullia Zevi, whose family left their home in Milan for France in the 1930s when the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini instated antisemitic laws, also served in the World Jewish Congress and European Jewish Congress.

From 1983 she spent five years as head of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, during which time she oversaw the first papal visit to the Rome synagogue in modern history.


Tunisia violence: not best place to be Jewish

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 20, 2011

It's not hard to find Jews in Tunisia, even while there is a revolution on. Head down to the Avenue de Liberte in Tunis in time for shacharit and you can find worshippers leaving the main synagogue. And it's not hard to see that they have reason to be worried.

As one man leaving the shul, in his 60s and wearing a black beret, said: "It's a good time to be quiet and put your head down."


Petitions fly over Desmond Tutu's Israel stance

By Moira Schneider, January 20, 2011

A counter-petition in defence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, organised by a South African human rights group, has garnered over 4,000 signatures since its launch last week.

The move came in response to a similar online initiative launched last month by three Jewish residents of Cape Town, calling for the resignation of the anti-apartheid cleric as patron of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.


Reporter attacked at Marine Le Pen party

By Michel Zlotowski, January 20, 2011

Aa journalist for TV news channel France 24, was assaulted and suffered antisemitic abuse while reporting on the election of Marine Le Pen to the presidency of the extreme-right National Front party last weekend.

Mickael Szames said he was taking snapshots of Ms Le Pen dancing with her father at a post-election cocktail party when he was attacked by security guards.

Reporting the next morning on France 24, Mr Szames said: "Eight FN security officers knocked me to the ground and hit me repeatedly for taking pictures at the reception.


Fake rabbi stole £3m by posing as dead

By Paul Berger, January 20, 2011

A Chicago man posing as a rabbi attempted to steal £34 million by filing fraudulent tax returns using the identities of dead people and prison inmates.

Marvin Berkowitz, 64, pleaded guilty to tax fraud in a Chicago court on Friday.

He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.

Berkowitz and his accomplices, who included family members, scoured online records for the names and social security numbers of the dead and of prisoners.


US groups criticise Israel NGO probe

By Paul Berger, January 20, 2011

As thousands turned out in Tel Aviv last weekend to protest against the bill to investigate the funding of left-wing, Israeli NGOs, several major American Jewish organisations voiced their opposition to the move.

They argue that the bill, which proposes setting up a parliamentary panel to look into NGOs that criticise the Israel Defence Forces, threatens the country's democratic values.

It is the most significant revolt since the Rotem Conversion Bill drew almost unanimous opposition from the American Jewish community last summer.


Hitler-plot grandson may get property back

By Toby Axelrod, January 20, 2011

The grandson of a German involved in the famous July 20 1944 plot to kill Hitler is a step closer to getting his family's confiscated property back.

Lawyers for Prince Friedrich zu Solms-Baruth said the Federal Supreme Court in Leipzig has overturned a 2008 ruling against the prince and instructed a court to hear the case again.


Hizbollah practises taking over Beirut

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 20, 2011

Tension in Lebanon has reached a fever pitch as the international tribunal investigating the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 delivered its indictments to the International Criminal Court in Hague on Monday.

Last week, Hizbollah toppled the Lebanese government when it led a walkout of ministers from the administration headed by Saad Hariri, the assassinated PM's son. They were protesting against the government's co-operation with the tribunal.


Joe Lieberman quits after 'barrier-breaking' rise in US politics

By Jennifer Lipman, January 19, 2011

One of the most senior Jewish politicians in the United States, and the only Jewish vice-presidential candidate in the history of the major parties, has announced his departure from the Senate today.

Senator Joe Lieberman, who was first elected to represent Connecticut for the Democratic party in 1988 but left to run as an independent in 2006, said he will not contest a fifth election next year.

Speaking to an audience including six of his grandchildren, he recalled the journey his grandparents had made to America a century before.


Singing card causes Israeli bank bomb scare

By Jennifer Lipman, January 19, 2011

A bomb-scare at the Manhattan headquarters of an Israeli bank turned out to be nothing more than a joke birthday card.

The Bank Hapoalim building was evacuated earlier today because of fears that it had been targeted by extremists.

However police, investigating what had set the alarm off, found that the “suspicious package” was actually a musical greeting card.

Security staff raised the alert due to the lack of return address given and a spelling mistake on the address.