World news

Hamas education website slammed by Unesco

By Leon Symons, November 19, 2009

A website used by Hamas to educate children and young people in Gaza violates every international educational standard set by Unesco, according to a new report.

The website, Al-Fateh, “instructs its young audience in hatred and incites them to bloodshed and suicide… [it] is against the fundamental rights of children”, says the report.


US immersed in mikveh revolution

By Elicia Brown New York, November 19, 2009

It has been a difficult year for Beth Steiner, coping with the emotional rollercoaster of infertility treatments while many of her friends announce their pregnancies. But last month, Ms Steiner, 30, found a calm haven at an unexpected place: the mikveh.

“It was like I had been holding my breath for so long. I was just able to relax,” says Ms Steiner.

Before immersing, she recited a meditation on infertility. Afterwards, she sipped herbal tea on the couch in the waiting room, and “felt so peaceful, so hopeful”.


Former 'Nazi' charged with killing 58 in Austria

By Jessica Elgot, November 17, 2009

A German court has charged a 90-year-old man with 58 counts of murder for killing Jewish forced laborers in Austria.

The former SS guard has been charged with killing the Jewish labourers in Deutsch-Schetzen, in eastern Austria.
The murders were allegedly committed on March 30, 1945, just over month before the German surrender.

The suspect has not been identified by the Duisberg state court, but he is said to be a resident of the town.
The court will now decide within two weeks whether the case should be brought to trial.


Lebanon school bans 'Zionist' Anne Frank

By Josie Ensor, Beirut, November 13, 2009

A Beirut school has removed a textbook containing excerpts of The Diary of Anne Frankfrom its syllabus after Hizbollah claimed it promotes Zionism.

“The book focuses on the persecution of Jews during the war, but even more dangerous is the theatrical and dramatic method employed to narrate the diaries in an emotional way,” MP Hussein Hajj Hassan said on Hizbollah’s TV station, Al-Manar. “These respected, established schools are teaching the so-called tragedy this girl lived — how long will Lebanon remain an open arena for this Zionism?”


The Angel of Mostar reunited with Bosnian girl she rescued

By David Cohen, November 12, 2009

In 1992, Sally Becker, who became known as the Angel of Mostar for her rescue work in the Bosnian war, took Selma Handzaar and her brother Mirza out of Mostar to Croatia.

Selma was 10 years old, Mirza, seven. They were Muslims. Both were blown across the back garden of their house by bombs fired by troops loyal to Radovan Karadic, now on trial at The Hague.

The shelling destroyed part of the house. A wall fell on Selma. Mirza found that he could not walk when he tried to crawl towards his sister.


Mixed-race Jewish children locate their communal comfort zone

By Sue Fishkoff, November 12, 2009

Dafna Wu, a 48-year-old San Francisco nurse, was born to a Jewish mother and Chinese father. She was raised Jewish but looks Asian, as does her daughter, nine-year-old Amalia, whose father was also Chinese.

The Hebrew School Amalia attends is filled with mixed-race children, but the parents in the congregation are all white, as is the majority of American Jewry. That concerns her mother.


Zimbabwe needs money, says South African Rabbi

By Moira Schneider, November 12, 2009

The community in Zimbabwe is still in dire need of financial help because of the erosion of the value of their currency, says the South African rabbi in charge of aid efforts.

Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft will be awarded the 2009 Commonwealth Jewish Council and Trust Anniversary Award by London Mayor Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

One of three recipients, he was selected for his “dedication and service to the Jewish people of sub-Saharan Africa and in particular for his brave support and crucial visits with supplies for the remaining Jewish community in Zimbabwe.”


US Jewish charities: prospering despite credit crunch

By Nathan Guttman, November 12, 2009

In Washington, the main Jewish communal body, the Federation, suffered two financial hits in recent years: once through the economic downturn and another through Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. But despite a 15 per cent drop in income, the community hardly felt a decline in services. The organisation cut salaries by 10 per cent and switched to a four-day work week.

“It’s a very challenging time, but we are finding creative ways to cope,” said the Federation’s CEO, Misha Galperin.


Abbas resignation 'could kill peace plan'

By Ben Lynfield, November 12, 2009

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (right) has been deluged with requests from foreign heads of state to reconsider his decision not to seek another term in his office, while his own people seem indifferent.

Mr Abbas said last week that he “does not wish” to run in the January 24 elections, blaming Israel’s expansion of settlements, the US “favouring” the Israeli position and Hamas foiling national reconciliation efforts.

It was not immediately clear if the step was anything more than a ploy to muster American pressure on Israel.


Netanyahu 'agrees to settlement freeze' in tense talks with Obama

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 12, 2009

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to put on a brave face following the demonstrably low-key fashion in which he was received on Monday at the White House. However, Israeli officials have admitted that the nature of the meeting was “a reprimand” to the prime minister and that Mr Netanyahu conceded on a number of issues, including the settlement freeze and the release of Palestinian prisoners.