World news

Fury as Achille Lauro hijack killer freed early

By Keren David, May 7, 2009

Daughters of the American tourist killed when Palestinian terrorists hijacked a cruise ship in 1985 have expressed outrage at the early release of one of his killers after more than 23 years in jail.

Youssef Magied al-Molqui has been transferred from prison in Palermo, Sicily, to a holding centre for immigrants in nearby Trapani while officials work to expel him.

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‘Israel spy’ charges dropped by US judge

By Nathan Guttman, May 7, 2009

All charges have been dropped against Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, the two former pro-Israel lobbyists accused under the Espionage Act of passing classified information to Israel.

The case may be closed for the two defendants, but it is just the beginning of many open questions for the Jewish community.

The decision to drop charges was based mainly on the understanding that winning the case would be virtually impossible, given the high bar for conviction set by the district judge.

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Europe votes for shechitah

May 7, 2009

Months of campaigning by European Jewish groups paid off in a series of votes at the European Parliament on Wednesday that have put shechitah (religious slaughter) on to its statute books.

Henry Grunwald, chairman of Shechitah UK, said: “This vote represents the first time that shechitah has been recognised as a legitimate form of animal slaughter by any European institution. We are working hard to achieve a satisfactory outcome when the final text comes before the Council of Ministers in June.”

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Oh boy, things just got better for Petter

By Dan Goldberg, May 7, 2009

It took almost two years, cost more than £5000 and involved two donkeys, one sheep, a case of mistaken sexual identity, several DNA tests and the unwavering faith of two ultra-Orthodox Jews in Australia.

On Sunday, more than 1500 mainly Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Melbourne witnessed what is believed to be Australia’s first-ever Pidyon Petter Chamor — the redemption of the first-born male donkey

Berel Goldberger, a Vishnitzer, and Binyomin Friedman, a Belzer, stumbled across the tractate during their daily study session at the Adass Israel Congregation.

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Billionaire dies just as scam charge dropped

By Dan Goldberg, April 30, 2009

Richard Pratt, a billionaire Australian industrialist, has died from prostate cancer — the day after a criminal case against him was dropped.

Mr Pratt’s reputation as a businessman and generous philanthropist was tarnished in 2007 when his company was fined a record £17.5 million for collusion in a price-fixing scam with a rival.

Citing Mr Pratt’s terminal illness, prosecutors on Monday dropped a case accusing him of giving false or misleading evidence to the corporate watchdog.

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Racism to be focus of Halimi murder trial

By Natasha Lehrer, April 30, 2009

Three years ago, Ilan Halimi, a Jewish mobile phone salesman who worked in central Paris, agreed to go on a date with a pretty girl who had, she later confessed, been sent to entrap him. Three weeks later, he was found by railway tracks south of Paris.

He was barely conscious; his body was marked with the evidence of multiple torture and had been doused in fuel and set alight. He died on the way to hospital.

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Senate shock as lawmaker swaps parties

By Nathan Guttman, April 30, 2009

The only Jewish Republican in the Senate has defected to the Democratic Party, causing a potentially major shift in the senatorial balance of power.

Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter, one of the longest serving senators, has long been at odds with his Republican colleagues.

His moderate views on economic and social issues became increasingly unwelcome and he publicly disputed the Republican caucus’s decision to oppose President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan.

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Calls for ‘Durban III’ rejected after Geneva rows

By Leon Symons, April 30, 2009

The United Nations should set up its own antisemitism unit, according to one of Britain’s leading antisemitism campaigners.

John Mann, chair of the Commons All-Party Committee on Antisemitism, told MPs in a debate in the House on Tuesday that antisemitism was one of the reasons that the UN was created after the Second World War.

The short debate was an assessment of the UN’s racism review conference held in Geneva last week, eight years on from its 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, known as Durban I.

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I’m your rabbi (and they won’t get me out of here)

By Keren David, April 30, 2009

On the map it is a pinprick in the Bolivian rainforest, a tiny township where the nearest cash machine is a 20-hour bus ride away.

Many of the 15,000 residents are indigenous people too poor to afford a boat to cross the Beni river. From one tribe, the Tacana, comes the town’s name, Rurrenabaque, meaning lagoon of ducks.

The local airport is often reduced to a mudbath, electricity comes from an unreliable generator and, until recently, the only vehicular access was via the aptly-named Death Road.

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Mexico community shuts down

By Isabel Janner, April 30, 2009

In Mexico City, all 12 Jewish day schools are closed and synagogue services have been reduced from large congregational gatherings to smaller minyanim as the 40,000 strong Jewish community follows its government’s advice on preventing the spread of swine flu.

Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations scheduled for Wednesday, hosted by Israel’s ambassador Yosef Levine, were also cancelled.

Many community services have been stopped and the Jewish Sports Centre in Mexico City is closed, along with all kosher restaurants.

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