World news

Can Beirut's last synagogue still be saved?

By Josie Ensor, October 29, 2009

A scheme to renovate Beirut’s last standing shul is running out of money.

Maghen Abraham Synagogue, located in the former Jewish quarter of the Lebanese capital, was destroyed by Israeli shelling in 1982. It has been abandoned ever since, leaving Lebanese Jews without a synagogue building.

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Australia textbook ‘offensive’

By Dan Goldberg, October 29, 2009

The Asia-Pacific arm of a major UK publisher has withdrawn a secondary school textbook from Australian shelves, after it was accused of containing offensive claims about Jews.

Cambridge University Press (Australia & New Zealand) said on Tuesday that it “recognised the concerns that have been expressed” about the chapter on Judaism in the Cambridge Studies of Religion, and would “seek the advice of an independent expert in Judaism”.

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The cure for secular US Jews? Free trips to Israel

By Paul Berger, October 29, 2009

A new study claims to have found a cure for young Jews dropping out of the community. It costs about $2,500, lasts 10 days and is called Taglit-Birthright Israel.

Taglit sends Jews aged 18 to 26 who have never been to Israel, on a free, 10-day trip to the Jewish state. Its goal, when it launched in 1999, was to foster the connection between young Jews, Israel and the Jewish community.

Professor Leonard Saxe of Brandeis University this week revealed the findings of a five-month study of Taglit alumni who went to Israel between 2001 and 2004.

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1,500 back launch of US 'peace' lobby

By Nathan Guttman, October 29, 2009

“This is truly a birth of a movement,” declared Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street, the dovish Israel lobby, at his group’s first ever national conference.

For Mr Ben-Ami, the three-day parley in Washington DC, which brought together 1,500 activists, was a success. It attracted attention from the media and the foreign policy community, gained a stamp of approval from the administration and many members of Congress, and overcame a boycott by the Israeli ambassador to Washington.

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Australia's Borat stirs up race relations

By Dan Goldberg, October 29, 2009

Imagine, for a moment, a Jewish comedian arousing himself on camera with the aid of Barack Obama’s book. Or being crucified on a giant cross in the Philippines on Easter Sunday. Or transforming himself from a white Jew to a black brother in Chicago.

Sounds like scenes from Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest outrageous satire, right? Wrong.

They’re from John Safran’s Race Relations, an eight-part series that began airing amid a public furore on Australian TV last week.

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Chief Rabbi of Poland: Kaminski's no antisemite

By Jessica Elgot, October 29, 2009

The Chief Rabbi of Poland has defended controversial Polish MEP Michal Kaminski against charges of antisemitism and criticised the New Statesman magazine for a “grotesque distortion” of his words.

Mr Kaminski was at the centre of the row over the Conservative Party’s new alliance in the European Parliament, and concerns were raised by community leaders over his alleged antisemitism.

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French comic Dieudonné fined for antisemitic stunt

By Jessica Elgot, October 28, 2009

A far-right comedian who performed an antisemitic stunt which involved giving an award to a Holocaust denier has been fined €20, 000 by a French court.

Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, 43, had previously stood for the European Parliament as head of the Anti-Zionist Party, which he formed with Alain Soral, a former member of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s extreme-right National Front.

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Ivanka Trump marries Jewish publisher beau

By Jessica Elgot, October 26, 2009

Ivanka Trump has married her Jewish boyfriend Jared Kushner in New Jersey.

The daughter of millionaire businessman Donald Trump, Ivanka, 27, converted to Judaism during her engagement to New York Observer publisher Mr Kushner, whose family are Orthodox.

She converted at Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue in Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Ms Trump, a former model and current vice president at the Trump Organisation, is considered to be heir to her father’s business empire.

The couple married at the Trump-owned National Golf Club in New Jersey in front of 500 guests.

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Gaddafi: Give Palestinians nuclear weapons

By Jessica Elgot, October 26, 2009

The president of Libya Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has argued that the Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and Saudi should be allowed nuclear weapons to defend themselves from Israel.

Col. Gaddafi told Sky News that if the Arab countries are not allowed to have nuclear weapons, then Israel should be similarly banned. Israel has never confirmed the existence of a nuclear arsenal.

He said: "Even the Palestinians should have nuclear weapons because their counterparts, or their opponents, have nuclear capabilities."

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One-man fight to save Jewish delis

By Sue Finkoff, October 22, 2009

Chicago and Cleveland serve the best corned beef. Montreal has the best smoked meat, New York owns pastrami, and no one can touch London for pickled tongue.

That’s what 30-year-old Toronto native David Sax says, and he should know: he spent three years eating his way through more than 150 Jewish delis to research Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen.

Mr Sax’s book, newly released in the US, is a delicious romp through a fast-disappearing world.

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