World news

Auschwitz sign stolen

By Jessica Elgot, December 18, 2009

The wrought-iron sign above the entrance to Auschwitz with the infamous slogan ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ has been stolen.

The sign, which is believed to have been stolen before 5 o’clock this morning using a ladder, had been unscrewed on one side and then wrenched off.

The theft is the first major act of vandalism to be committed on the site, which stands as a memorial to the six million Jews and other miniorities murderd by the Nazis.

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Reform is too frum for us, say members

By Sue Fishkoff, December 17, 2009

For the past decade, the American Reform movement has been engaged in a re-evaluation of traditional rituals, from Shabbat to kashrut. There is more Hebrew in the services, more yarmulkes, more interest in using mitzvot to bring holiness to the mundane.

But now, a small group of mainly older Reform Jews is resisting. They say this growing interest in ritual observance is a betrayal of Reform’s original rationalist approach to faith, and is putting the movement on the slippery slope towards Orthodoxy.

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Lieberman causes uproar over Obama health bill

By Nathan Guttman, December 17, 2009

Full page ads in Jewish newspapers and banners popping up on Jewish community websites made it clear that Senator Joseph Lieberman, once an icon of Jewish politics, is now at odds not only with his former Democratic Party, but also with his own Jewish community.

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Roger Cohen - new target of New York Jews' fury

By Paul Berger, December 17, 2009

It’s been quite a year for Roger Cohen. The British-born New York Times columnist has been called a “self-hating Jew” and accused of attempting to “undermine American solidarity with Israel”. The editor of America’s largest Jewish paper, the New York Jewish Week, even wondered whether his heart had “become brutal”.

Mr Cohen’s crime: a succession of columns sharply criticising Israel and presenting an alternative view of Iran.

“I don’t set out to be provocative,” Mr Cohen says, from his home in Brooklyn. “I set out to write what I believe.”

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Antisemitic attacks rise in France

December 17, 2009

The French ministry of the interior will appoint a representative to monitor and deal with antisemitic incidents, which have more than doubled in 2009.

The announcement was made by Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux at the annual meeting for the Union of French Jewish Professionals, where he was awarded the organisation’s prize for the Fight Against Racism.

He called antisemitism “a poison for our Republic” and emphasised that his ministry would deal appropriately and firmly with antisemitic crime.

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New York 'tight conversions' rabbi resigns

By Paul Berger, December 17, 2009

The founder of a powerful American group that seeks to enforce a tough stance on conversions has abruptly resigned.

Leib Tropper, a strictly Orthodox rabbi who founded the New York-based Eternal Jewish Family, said he was stepping down last weekend to “pursue a variety of other interests”.

In the past week, images appeared on several Jewish blogs showing posters on display in Orthodox neighbourhoods of Jerusalem accusing him of indiscretions.

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How Iran's secret A-plant was exposed

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 17, 2009

Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major General Amos Yadlin, has confirmed that Iran owned up to its secret nuclear facility in Qom only because it discovered that Western intelligence services were already aware of its existence.

According to other intelligence sources, several months ago, Iran captured a spy operated by MI6 and discovered that Western intelligence services knew about Qom.

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Roman Abramovich names son after late father

By Simon Griver, December 11, 2009

Roman Abramovich has named his new son Aaron Alexander Abramovich after his late father Arkady, whose Jewish name was Aaron.

Mr Abramovich's father was killed in a construction site accident in Russia when the billionaire Chelsea owner was just four years old.

Daria Zhukova gave birth at Los Angeles’ Cedar-Sinai Medical Center last Thursday. The hospital is close to where the former model grew up and her Jewish mother Elena’s home. Ms Zhukova attended a Jewish school in California as a teenager.

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Rabbis join gay marriage debate in US

By Paul Berger, December 10, 2009

Rabbis and Jewish politicians have waded into America’s debate on gay marriage, wielding Judaism in their arguments for and against same-sex unions.

In Lakewood, New Jersey, home to a strictly Orthodox community of about 10,000 families, Jewish leaders committed the hitherto unthinkable act of discussing their opposition to gay marriage with a secular journalist.

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Analysis: You can be mad and still fit to stand trial

By Jean-Yves Camus, December 10, 2009

The Selam case has been re-opened, but the murderer will most probably be declared insane again, and despite the quite obvious antisemitic intent of his action, it is dubious that he will ever be jailed.

This is because there is a loophole in the French judicial system. Despite the Dati Law of 2008, which allows the family of a victim to appeal a judge’s ruling that a criminal is insane, most judges think that being mentally disturbed means being unfit to stand trial.

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