World news

Obama's Israel record is mid-terms issue

By Nathan Guttman, September 2, 2010

Israel has become a major factor in the upcoming mid-term elections, with Democratic candidates being forced to defend President Obama's Middle East record and occasionally dissociate from him entirely.

It first became clear that Israel was going to be a weak spot for the Democrats several months ago, when Congressman Henry Waxman, undoubtedly the senior and most powerful Jewish lawmaker in the House of Representatives, published a piece in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal denying that the president had mistreated the Jewish state.


New rabbis for German Jewish community

By Toby Axelrod, September 2, 2010

Two young rabbis were ordained in ceremonies in Leipzig on Sunday, in another sign of the revival of Jewish life in Germany.

Shlomo Afanasev and Moshe Baumel, students of the Rabbinerseminar zu Berlin, received their semichah in ceremonies at the historic synagogue of Leipzig.

They are the second pair of rabbis trained at this Orthodox school, a programme of the US-based Ronald S Lauder Foundation, which is under the supervision of Rabbi Chanoch Ehrentreu of London.

Both new rabbis were born in the former Soviet Union, reflecting the demographics of Germany's Jewish community.


New Israel Fund may drop anti-Zionist donors

By Nathan Guttman, September 2, 2010

The New Israel Fund is examining new grant-giving guidelines following a barrage of attacks from Israeli right-wing groups.

One of the key clauses being considered by the board and key donors would compel non-profit groups that wish to receive grants from the Fund to accept, to a certain extent, the principle of Israel being a Jewish state.


Controversial German banker claims Jews share gene

By Toby Axelrod, September 2, 2010

The author of a new book on the future of Germany has caused a major stir by claiming that all Jews share the same genetic make-up and espousing theories of racial superiority, according to which Jews are among those who have high-class genes.

Jewish and Turkish leaders have decried the doomsday book, Deutschland schafft sich ab ("Germany abolishes itself"), which also blames the country's problems on Muslim immigrants.

There have been calls for the author, former Berlin finance minister Thilo Sarrazin, to resign from his current position on the board of Germany's central bank.


Beard ban for Orthodox Jewish inmate

By Jennifer Lipman, September 2, 2010

An Orthodox Jewish prisoner in New Hampshire has been banned from growing his beard longer than a quarter of an inch, despite claiming that it is his religious right to do so.

Albert Kuperman, 25, had argued that New Hampshire State Prison’s grooming policy went against his constitutional right to freedom of religion.

But a federal judge ruled that the First Amendment did not extend to facial hair.

Judge Steven McAuliffe said that the prison’s hygiene and security policy came first.


Pregnant woman dies in Hebron shooting

August 31, 2010

At least four Israelis, including a pregnant woman, are reported to have been shot dead in the Hebron region.

Their car came under fire from a passing vehicle at the Beni Naim junction on Highway 60.

Security officials describe it as a well-planned ambush. The attackers are said to have paused to confirm that the victims were dead before fleeing.

Security forces and Magen David Adom ambulances rushed to the scene. Palestinian security forces were also told of the attack, which took place just as the Ramadan fast was ending, and are looking into the incident.


Dita Von Teese sues for antisemitism

By Jennifer Lipman, August 31, 2010

Burlesque artist Dita Von Teese has filed a lawsuit against her former landlord for making antisemitic remarks - despite the fact that she is not Jewish.

Ms Von Teese said the comments came after she told her landlord she was leaving the property and wanted her £3,200 deposit back.

According to court documents filed in Los Angeles, the landlord "went on Mel Gibson-like antisemitic tangents, personally attacking [Ms Von Teese’s] Jewish managers and business managers.”


Holocaust-era deportation archives to be opened

By Jennifer Lipman, August 31, 2010

Records of Jewish people who were deported from France during the Holocaust are to be revealed following a landmark decision by California legislators.

The French state train company SNCF is expected to place a bid to construct a high-speed railway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

But last week, in a bill sponsored by Jewish lawmaker Bob Blumenfield, the California state legislature ruled that all companies bidding for the project had to disclose whether they had a direct role in Holocaust transportation between 1942 and 1944.


Wiesel calls on France to stop Roma deportations

By Jennifer Lipman, August 31, 2010

Elie Wiesel has condemned the French government’s decision to expel Roma immigrants but cautioned that a comparison with the Nazi round-ups was not appropriate.

The Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor described the repatriation of Roma people from France to Romania and Bulgaria as unacceptable.

As a former refugee, Mr Wiesel expressed his solidarity with the Roma and called on French president Nicolas Sarkozy to stop the crackdown.

But he also said: "It is necessary to be careful with the language.

“These Roma are sent to Romania, to Hungary, not to Auschwitz.


Mumbai's terror-hit Chabad House rebuilt

By Jennifer Lipman, August 31, 2010

Work has started on a Chabad House in the Indian city of Mumbai to replace the one damaged during the terror attacks” of November 2008.

At the new centre there will be a memorial to the six people who were killed in Nariman House when Islamist terrorists went on a murderous rampage.

The Chabad emissary Rabbi Gavriel Holztberg and his wife Rivka were killed, along with four visitors to the house. The couple were murdered just days before their infant son’s second birthday.