World news

Chelsea Clinton marries under a chupah

By Jennifer Lipman, August 2, 2010

It had been described as the wedding of the century and by all accounts Chelsea Clinton’s marriage to Jewish investment banker Mark Mezvinsky did not disappoint.

The daughter of former US President Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton married under a chuppah at a ceremony presided over by both a rabbi and a Methodist minister.

The event was shrouded in secrecy from the earliest stage of planning, and security was so tight that guests were given identification bracelets before they arrived.


Rocket attack on Ashkelon

By Marcus Dysch, July 30, 2010

A rocket fired from Gaza has landed in a residential area of Ashkelon, causing damage to cars and buildings.

Around eight people have been treated for shock and minor injuries after the missile landed in the southern Israeli city at around 8.30am local time.

Prior to the explosion the city’s rocket attack alarm was sounded.

The strike smashed windows in local buildings and damaged cars.

Ashkelon mayor Benny Vaknin told Israel Radio that the incident was “no doubt the most serious that has happened since Operation Cast Lead”.


Son fights to move mother from Christian cemetery

By Marcus Dysch, July 29, 2010

A bereaved son has described his frustration after an unsuccessful three-year battle to have his mother's body moved from a Christian cemetery to a Jewish resting place.

Eugene Linder's late mother, Biba Skodnik, is buried in Finland. He has pleaded with the country's Prime Minister and President to allow him to reinter her in Switzerland, where his family now lives.

But despite the assistance of London-based Rabbi Aba Dunner of the Conference of European Rabbis, Mr Linder has failed to receive permission from the Finnish authorities to move her.


Legal challenge for New Zealand shechitah ban

By Dan Goldberg, July 29, 2010

New Zealand's small Jewish community has begun mounting a legal case against the nation's centre-right government in a bid to overturn a ban on the kosher slaughter of meat.

Community spokesperson David Zwartz said that attempts to convince Agriculture Minister David Carter to reverse the ban on shechitah had failed, prompting Jewish leaders to engage a leading Auckland-based law firm.

"Draft proceedings are currently being reviewed by a QC and a final decision will be made following receipt of his advice," Mr Zwartz said.


Australian churches back Israel boycott

By Dan Goldberg, July 29, 2010

relations between Australia's Jewish and Christian communities have been rocked by a controversial resolution that urges churches to boycott Israeli goods from the West Bank.

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) - the nation's top-level ecumenical body - passed the resolution during its seventh triennial forum, prompting a scathing response from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).


UN Goldstone probe head is 'biased'

By Toby Axelrod, July 29, 2010

German judge Christian Tomuschat is facing increased pressure to step down as head of the UN panel charged with reviewing the implementation of the Goldstone report's demands.

Critics say Mr Tomuschat has already likened Israel's self-defence actions to "state terrorism", and thus cannot provide an unbiased assessment of whether Israel and Hamas have properly investigated and then tried those alleged to have committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead.


American rabbis call for gay acceptance

By Rebecca Schischa, July 29, 2010

A group of prominent American rabbis have called for more acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Orthodox community.

The "statement of principles", signed by over 80 community leaders, affirms the rights of Jews of all sexual orientations to "be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community... and treated under the same halachic framework as any other member of the synagogue they join".


Swastika no longer viewed as Nazi symbol

By Jennifer Lipman, July 28, 2010

An American organisation which monitors antisemitism has said that the Nazi swastika will no longer automatically be considered a hate symbol.

The Anti-Defamation League said the swastika, until now inextricably linked with the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews, has for some people “lost its meaning as the primary symbol of Nazism and instead become a more generalised symbol of hate.”

The ADL released its annual audit of antisemitic incidents last week and said that numbers had fallen from 1,352 in 2008 to 1,211 the following year.


Hungarian government sued over Nazi art theft

By Jennifer Lipman, July 28, 2010

The family of a Jewish banker whose art collection, valued at more than £60 million, was allegedly looted by the Nazis during the Holocaust has filed a lawsuit against the Hungarian government.

The heirs of Baron Mor Lipot Herzog are demanding the return of more than 40 valuable paintings and sculptures by artists including Monet and Velasquez.

After it was stolen the collection came into the possession of the Hungarian government and much of it is now on display in the country’s art galleries.


Russian 'spy' is nice Jewish girl

By Jennifer Lipman, July 28, 2010

A Latvian-born American beautician arrested for trying to smuggle night-vision equipment to Russia is actually just “a nice Jewish girl”, according to her lawyer.

Anna Fermanova, 24, was stopped by police in March after they found two rifles and other restricted items allegedly concealed in a pair of Ugg boots as she boarded a Moscow-bound flight.

She claimed they were for her Russian husband to use when he went hunting. Her unusual luggage was confiscated but she was allowed to travel to Moscow, where she stayed teaching English for four months.