World news

Call to lift German Mein Kampf ban

By Jessica Elgot, August 6, 2009

Germany’s main Jewish representative organisation has renewed its efforts to overturn the state’s ban on publishing Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council for Jews in Germany has called for the publication of a scholarly edition of the book, with footnotes challenging Hitler’s assertions, claiming it would prevent black market printing of the book where neo-Nazi groups profit.

Mr Kramer also argued that continuing to ban the book would glamorise it, and that Germans were sophisticated enough to make up their own minds.

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Seinfeld reunited by Larry David

By Jessica Elgot, July 31, 2009

The cast of Seinfeld will finally be reunited after 11 years on a special finale episode of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm

Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards have not appeared onscreen together since 1998 but will reunite for the show’s season finale.
Members of the case will appear separately in five episodes of the show, where the characters will play themselves negotiating a Seinfeld reunion show, which will be the main theme of the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm

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The New Jersey scandal could hurt Israel's Shas party

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 30, 2009

The arrest of leaders of the Halebi community in New York and New Jersey sent shockwaves through the Sephardi Orthodox party, Shas, in Israel.

While numerically the Halebis are one of the smaller Sephardi groups, their financial clout is inordinate.
Rabbi Ovadia Yossef and other Shas leaders have regularly visited the Halebi communities in New York, Sao Paolo and Mexico City to give sermons and fundraise.

Rabbi Ovadia has been close to the community for over six decades. While he was born in Baghdad, his late wife, Margalit, was the daughter of a respected Halebi family.

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Syrian Jews in shock after rabbis' arrest

By Elicia Brown, July 30, 2009

America’s Syrian-Jewish community is reeling from a double blow.

Three of its rabbis have been arrested for money laundering in a wide-ranging sweep which netted 44 people, including three New Jersey mayors, several local politicians and two other rabbis of Ashkenazi background.
The alleged fraudulent activity was exposed by a fourth Syrian Jew, Solomon Dwek, who was accused of being a traitor by his community.

The property developer had been charged in 2006 with bank fraud and became an informant for the FBI.

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Conservative Jewry fights to survive in US

By Elicia Brown, July 30, 2009

Elie Kaunfer, 35, is exactly the type of Jew the Conservative movement would love to claim. Passionate about Jewish tradition and ordained as a rabbi by the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, he feels most at home with the egalitarian services which are popular in the centrist stream.

Yet Rabbi Kaunfer will not say he belongs to the Conservative movement — indeed, he will not put any label on his Jewish identity. As co-founder of the wildly popular Hadar, an independent minyan in New York, he knows many young Jews who feel the same.

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Three arrested in Iran for 'devil worship'

By Jessica Elgot, July 30, 2009

An Iranian news agency has claimed that police in the north west Iranian province of Ardabil arrested three people, including a Jewish woman, for devil worship.

The Fars news agency, a governmental news body, said: “Two men and a Jewish woman, who were promoting the cult of Satan worship among the youth of Parsabad town, have been arrested,”

It also claimed more than 100 items, including jewellery made from human skulls, have been seized from the arrested people.

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This is Madonna, reporting from Israel

By Jessica Elgot, July 29, 2009

The Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot has a new face on its pages - Madonna.

The paper is publishing Madonna's article "How My Life Changed" on Friday, translated into Hebrew.

The recently divorced star, 50, is devoted to Kabbalah and has adopted a Hebrew name, Esther.

She will perform in Israel for the final leg of her Sticky and Sweet tour in September.

The article is said to be about her “religious awakening” which she claims happened 14 years ago, a report from the Associated Press claimed.

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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.

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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

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Amazon.de 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 Amazon.de 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

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