World news

Australia renews its love affair with Israel

By Dan Goldberg, December 10, 2009

It was known as the “golden era” between Israel, Australia and the Jewish community.

The 11-year period of Conservative government under John Howard was arguably the zenith in bilateral relations between the two far-flung friends.

Between 1996 and 2007, Mr Howard — alongside Treasurer Peter Costello and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer — narrowed the distance between Canberra and Jerusalem, diplomatically if not geographically.

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How I avoided becoming a Madoff victim

By Paul Berger, December 10, 2009

Like many of his peers, philanthropist Charles Bronfman, an heir to the Seagram’s whisky fortune, was offered a chance to invest with Bernard Madoff.

“I’m no maven on financial stuff,” says Mr Bronfman, explaining that he referred the opportunity to his financial advisor.

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How I avoided becoming a Madoff victim

By Paul Berger, December 10, 2009

Like many of his peers, philanthropist Charles Bronfman, an heir to the Seagram’s whisky fortune, was offered a chance to invest with Bernard Madoff.

“I’m no maven on financial stuff,” says Mr Bronfman, explaining that he referred the opportunity to his
financial advisor.

“He came back and said, ‘Look, we asked [Madoff] certain questions. This guy could be the best guy in the world but we didn’t cotton on to his answers. So we have to advise against. Maybe you’re missing a big bet.”

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Chasidim stop bike lanes

By Paul Berger, December 10, 2009

For some New Yorkers, cycling is a religion.

So, when the city’s department of transport removed a bike lane that cut through the Chasidic area of Williamsburg last week, it was seen as a sacrilege.

“They illegally sold out the citizens of New York,” said Baruch Herzfeld, a modern Orthodox Jew who owns the Traif Bike Geschaft repair and rental shop on the southern edge of “hipster”, or bohemian, Williamsburg.

Mr Herzfeld and other bikers are enraged because, it appears, New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg struck a back-room deal with Williamsburg’s Satmar community.

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Irish slammed for Gaza ban

By Anthony Garvey, December 10, 2009

The Israeli government has been sharply criticised in the Irish parliament for refusing Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin permission to visit Gaza.

Some members called the refusal “intolerable” and “an insult”, while the chair of the parliament’s committee on European affairs, Bernard Durkan, claimed the decision “serves to give the impression that Israel is unwilling to let the outside world see the suffering that is going on”.

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Sacha Baron Cohen sued for £70m

By Jessica Elgot, December 7, 2009

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is being sued for £70m after a Palestinian activist claimed his film, Bruno, “ruined his life”.

In Mr Baron Cohen’s latest movie about a gay Austrian fashion designer, his character Bruno travels to the Ein El-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon to meet a man claimed in the film to be a “terrorist group leader, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade”.

Mr Baron Cohen later claimed on David Letterman’s US chat show that the production team found Aymna Abu Aita through a contact in the CIA.

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Britain 'will back EU draft to divide Jerusalem'

By Jessica Elgot, December 7, 2009

Foreign ministers of the European Union will meet in Brussels today to discuss a Swedish proposal to name east Jerusalem as a future Palestinian capital.

Britain is expected to back the proposal, along with Ireland, Belgium, and Malta, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Italy, France, Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Slovenia have all come out against the strong wording used in the draft.

The proposal for the Council for Foreign Affairs recommends dividing Jerusalem, so that east Jerusalem can be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

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Goldstone wins international prize

By Leon Symons, December 4, 2009

Richard Goldstone, the South African judge who wrote the controversial report that criticised Israel’s actions in Gaza but failed to refer to its right to defend itself, has won an international award.

Judge Goldstone has been awarded the first annual Stockholm Human Rights Award, presented jointly by the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the Swedish Bar Association and the International Bar Association, for “an outstanding contribution to promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms”. He was presented with the award in Stockholm.

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David Miliband: UK should talk to Hizbollah

By Jessica Elgot, December 3, 2009

Foreign Secretary David Miliband says that Britain should reopen dialogue with Hizbollah, according to an interview in a Lebanese newspaper.

But the Foreign Office said there was no change in any policy towards Hizbollah and that Mr Miliband's words had been "completely misrepresented".

Beirut newspaper the Daily Star reported that Mr Miliband said he believed "carefully considered contact with Hizbollah's politicians, including its MPs, will best advance our objective of the group rejecting violence to play a constructive role in Lebanese politics.

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Antisemitic incidents on the rise in Australia

By Dan Goldberg, December 3, 2009

Antisemitic incidents in Australia have reached record levels, although the number of physical assaults on Jews have dropped, according to an annual report.

Jeremy Jones, who has been collating data on antisemitic incidents in the country since 1989, told the annual conference of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) on Sunday that an unprecedented 962 reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation were received by Australian Jewish organisations between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009.

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