World news

Indian Chabad House targeted in February attack

By Jessica Elgot, March 24, 2010

Indian security officials have confirmed that the Chabad House in Pune was the real target of a bomb attack which killed seventeen people at a nearby bakery.

Rabbi Betzalel Kupchik, of the Chabad House, said he recognised the sound of the blast as like a “Katyusha rocket sent from Hamas.”

Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, said that the attack which ripped through a popular German bakery in the north west of the city was intended for the Chabad House, a few metres away.


Tony Blair: A two-state solution is best for Israel

By Jessica Elgot, March 23, 2010

Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister and envoy to the Middle East Quartet has described his vision for a safer Israel at the Aipac conference in Washington.

He said: “Israel is a democracy. The politicians are in fear of the people, not the people in fear of the politicians.”

Like US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who spoke at the conference yesterday, Mr Blair called the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit "a disgrace" and said that Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.


Tony Blair: His speech to Aipac in full

By Jessica Elgot, March 23, 2010

"My job is to try to get agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, for the Quartet which tries to get agreement between the US, the UN, the EU and Russia. I thought after being Prime Minister of Britain for ten years I should try something easy.

I am always described as a friend of Israel. It is true. I am and proud of it and I will tell you why.

Israel is a democracy. The politicians are in fear of the people, not the people in fear of the politicians.

Citizens are governed by the rule of law. Men and women are equal before the law.


Clinton: Israel situation 'unsustainable'

By Jessica Elgot, March 22, 2010

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the current situation in Israel “unsustainable” but guaranteed the Obama administration’s “rock solid” commitment to Israel.

In a speech prepared to deliver to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) in Washington, which was released early by her office, Mrs Clinton will say: “Guaranteeing Israel's security is more than a policy position for me. It is a personal commitment that will never waver.


Three men who stole Auschwitz sign jailed

By Jessica Elgot, March 18, 2010

Three men who stole and vandalised the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from Auschwitz have been jailed after pleading guilty to the theft.

The three men, two of them brothers, were named only as Radoslaw M, Lukasz M and Pawel S. They were sentenced to between 18 and 30 months at the court in Krakow.

Police arrested five men when they recovered the 16-foot wrought-iron sign, which had been cut into three pieces. The two other men are awaiting trial.


Analysis: Baroness Ashton fails first big Arab test

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, March 18, 2010

In her first real test as Europe's new foreign policy chief, Baroness Ashton delivered a key policy speech to the Arab League in Cairo on Tuesday. As it turns out, she flunked the test and returned the EU - after a brief hiatus of relatively friendly relations with Israel - to where it has traditionally been: a friend and a major sponsor of Palestinian intransigence and Arab complicity in the lack of progress in regional peace.


Analysis: Sick Mubarak setting up son as successor

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 18, 2010

Egyptian television showed footage of President Hosni Mubarak in a German hospital following an operation on Tuesday, to scotch rumours that he was dying.

Mr Mubarak is recovering from a successful operation to remove benign cists from his gallbladder. Israeli experts believe that after his return, the president will intensify efforts to ensure his son's succession.


Former SS men defend march in Latvia

By Ed Vulliamy, March 18, 2010

Juris Dobelis was one of 350 veterans of the Latvian Legion of the SS and 2,000 supporters marching to the monument for freedom in Riga on Tuesday.

"A soldier is a soldier and all soldiers are equal," insisted Mr Dobelis, a parliamentary deputy for Latvia's Fatherland and Freedom Party, which sponsors the march, and to which the British Conservatives are allied in the European Parliament.


Funds to combat Orthodox community sex abuse

By Paul Berger, March 18, 2010

A New York state agency is to finance a new $1 million programme to combat sexual abuse in the Orthodox community.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents a Brooklyn district with a large Orthodox community, said the scheme, called Shomrei yeladim ("Protectors of children"), will concentrate on educating children and parents about the dangers of abuse. It will also train professionals to deal with abuse in the Orthodox community.

The programme will be announced in coming weeks and would be financed by New York State Office of Children and Family Services.


Rabbi denies Holocaust scrolls are fakes

By Paul Berger, March 18, 2010

An American non-profit firm that rescues and restores Torahs lost in the Holocaust has responded to allegations its scrolls are not what they appear.

Rabbi Menachem Youlus had been dubbed "the Indiana Jones of Torah Scribes" for his exploits in Eastern Europe. He has sold hundreds - possibly over 1,000 - scrolls to congregations.