World news

Palestinian militant's threat to Bruno

By Jessica Elgot, July 28, 2009

Bruno actor Sacha Baron Cohen has stepped up his security after a threat from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
He ridiculed the group in the film when he visited the Palestinian militia’s leader Ayman Abu Aita.

Mr Baron Cohen’s character, a gay Austrian fashionista told Mr Aita: “Your King Osama looks like a kind of a dirty wizard or a homeless Santa.”

The group said the British comedian made "dirty use" of Mr Aita and said the film’s producers had misled them as to the real context of the film.


Interfaith group bond on trip to US

By Jessica Elgot, July 28, 2009

A delegation of European imams and rabbis met at the White House last week to discuss how to combat rising Islamophobia and antisemitism.

The group was made up of leading clerics from from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

More.. sued over Holocaust denial books

By Jessica Elgot, July 27, 2009

The American Jewish Committee is to sue the German arm of online books giant Amazon for selling more than 50 Holocaust denial books or books which "trivialise" the Nazis.

Deidre Berger, AJC's German director said: "It is unacceptable that books are for sale on that normally are only available under the counter in far-right extremist shops.

"We cannot let the spread of internet sales erode laws that ban Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred of minorities in Germany."

The organisation has filed a lawsuit with the state prosecutor in Munich to remove the books


Rabbis charged in New Jersey fraud swoop

By Jessica Elgot, July 24, 2009

Five rabbis are among those arrested for their alleged involvement in a huge money-laundering scheme, including the trafficking of human body parts, as a result of a 10-year investigation by the FBI in New Jersey.

FBI officials said they had arrested 44 people including two mayors, major political figures and rabbis, part of the Syrian-Jewish community who are said to have laundered the money through their personal charities.

The rabbis who have been charged include Saul Kassin, Grand Rabbi of the US Syrian-Jewish community.


NGO funding base exposed

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 23, 2009

Israeli and international human rights organisations are coming under increasing scrutiny as to the identity of their donors.

In many cases, Israeli NGOs which have been critical of the government’s policy have been financed by EU governments, including Britain.

Most of the NGOs have a similar agenda. They are dedicated to monitoring human rights in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, preventing torture in Israeli prisons, advancing the demands of Israeli Arabs for equal civil rights and exposing Jewish settlement activity.


Ken Loach’s Israel boycott fails in Oz

By Dan Goldberg, Sydney, July 23, 2009

British director Ken Loach has withdrawn his film from the Melbourne International Film Festival because the event receives funding from the Israeli government.

Mr Loach followed through on a threat to pull his film, Looking For Eric, from the festival as a protest against “illegal occupation of Palestinian land, destruction of homes and livelihoods [and] the massacres in Gaza”.

He succeeded with the same ultimatum to the Edinburgh Film Festival in May, prompting it to return a grant that was intended to help fund the visit of an Israeli filmmaker.


The great USA kashrut debate

By Sue Fishkoff, July 23, 2009

An Iowa bankruptcy court has approved the sale of what was once the largest kosher meat-packing plant in America, bringing to a close a long-running scandal which has forever changed America’s kosher food industry.

On the one hand, the damage left behind in the small town of Postville, Iowa, is irreparable. Hundreds of families, mostly Guatemalan and Mexican, were torn apart by the massive federal immigration raid on Agriprocessors in May 2008 — the largest in American history — and hundreds more left as the factory ceased production and declared bankruptcy.


Amnesty slams Saudi human rights record

By Jessica Elgot, July 22, 2009

Amnesty International has slammed the human rights record of Saudi Arabia in a new report, just days after it was revealed that Human Rights Watch had approached Saudi leaders for donations.

The report by the Wall Street Journal alleged that the director of HRW, Sarah Leah Whitson, had sought money from senior Saudis, in part by highlighting her organisation’s condemnation of Israel.


Anne Frank's barracks destroyed by fire

By Jessica Elgot, July 20, 2009

Barracks at a Dutch work camp where Anne Frank was held before being taken to Auschwitz have been destroyed by a “suspicious” fire

The cause of the fire at the wooden barracks at the Westerbork camp in Holland has not been determined.

Anne Frank was detained in barrack 57 at the camp in 1944, but the buildings were sold in 1957 and were used to store farm equipment before the fire.

Gillian Walnes the executive director of the Anne Frank Trust UK, said:


Mumbai terrorist suprise guilty plea

By Jessica Elgot, July 20, 2009

The surviving terrorist gunman of the Mumbai attacks, where a Chabad rabbi and his wife were among the murdered, has made a surprise confession at his trial.

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 21, shocked the court, including his own defence lawyer, when he changed from his original ‘not guilty’, telling them he wanted to confess.

The November attacks, which lasted three days, killed 166 people and specifically targeted the Jewish centres are said to have been financed by an Islamist Pakistani group.