World news

Holocaust hero lawyer struck off

By Miriam Shaviv, June 29, 2009

A lawyer who won reparations for Holocaust survivors in the 1990s was disbarred in New Jersey after he swindled some of the very survivors he helped.

The New Jersey Supreme Court found that Edward Fagan had taken $350,000 from the accounts of survivors Gizela Weisshaus, Estelle Sapir and others without their permission to pay his bills. The court also reportedly froze his assets.

Fagan also was disbarred last year in New York on an unrelated case.

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Madoff gets 150 years for investment scam

By Jessica Elgot, June 29, 2009

Fraudster Bernie Madoff has been sentenced to 150 years in prison by a court in New York, the maximum the judge could impose.

Several hundred spectators arrived at federal court in New York to witness 71-year-old Madoff’s sentencing for a multi-billion dollar fraud scheme.

Madoff’s legal team had previously requested a 12-year sentence.
He pleaded guilty in March to a stream of offences including fraud, money laundering and perjury which amounted to almost $50 billion of investment fraud.

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Michael Jackson's children may be Jewish

By Jessica Elgot, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson's two elder children could be returned to the custody of their Jewish mother, Debbie Rowe.

The children are Prince Michael I, who is 12, and Paris Michael Katherine, 11, who — according to halacha — would also be considered Jewish.

Jackson’s youngest child, Prince Michael II, had a surrogate mother , whose identity is not known.

When Rowe's Jewish identity first came to light, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a close friend of Jackson, expressed his astonishment.

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Sharansky to head Jewish agency

June 26, 2009

The former Soviet Prisoner of Zion, Natan Sharansky, has been elected chairman of the Jewish Agency. The vote, on Thursday evening, was unanimous despite initial concerns by American delegates.

Mr Sharansky, born in 1948 in the Ukraine, became the symbol of the movement to free Soviet Jewry, spending years in Soviet prison in isolation and forced labour. In 1986, after international pressure, he was freed and came to Israel.

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Britney Spears to star in Holocaust film

By Marcus Dysch, June 25, 2009

Of all the women you might pick to star in a sensitive film about the Holocaust, Britney Spears is unlikely to top the list. But the controversial singer, whose private life is frequently all over the tabloids, is rumoured to have been offered the leading role in a new Holocaust film.

Reports in the US suggest she will appear in The Yellow Star of Sophia and Eton, which may start filming in North America later this year.

Britney’s character, Sophia, builds a time machine and travels back to the Second World War, where she meets Eton, a Jewish prisoner of a death camp.

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Surrogate baby joy for Sarah Jessica Parker

By Jan Shure, June 24, 2009

Sarah Jessica Parker, aka Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, and her actor husband Matthew Broderick have twin daughters via a surrogate mother, the couple’s publicists have announced.

Parker, 44, and Broderick, 47, who already have a six-year-old son, James Wilkie, have named their daughters Marion Loretta Elwell and Tabitha Hodge. The babies were born on Monday in Ohio, home state of the surrogate mother.

"The babies are doing beautifully and the entire family is over the moon," the couple said in a statement.

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PA starts site in Ivrit

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 18, 2009

WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, launched a Hebrew website this week, in order to “present Israelis with another view of what is happening on the other side.”

WAFA is based in the PA offices in Ramallah but Faiz Abbas, an Israeli who resigned from Yediot in 2006, edits the website from his home in the Galilee.

Ma’an, the independent Palestinian news agency, set up a Hebrew website in 2005 but failed to attract many readers. Editor Abbas believes that his new website will be more successful.

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Israel fears an even more radical Iran

By Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem, June 18, 2009

If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is confirmed as the next Iranian president despite the protests against the regime this week, analysts predict even more strident policies towards Israel and the wider region than had he won straight.

“If the regime wins, it will be more self-confident, more defiant,” said Tel Aviv University Iran specialist Meir Litvak. “It would mean a further boost to radical forces in the region.”

He noted that the leaders of Hamas and Hizbollah were among the first to congratulate Mr Ahmadinejad when his victory was declared.

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Rabbis fight cremations in US

By Sue Fishkoff, California, June 18, 2009

As increasing numbers of Americans choose cremation, a national organisation of liberal burial societies is trying to promote burial among the non-Orthodox.

“We’re going on the positive offensive rather than the negative ‘don’t get cremated’ route,” said Rabbi Stuart Kelman, president of Kavod v’Nichum, a North American consortium of burial societies.

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More Israelis can opt for civil burials

By Nathan Jeffay Haifa, June 18, 2009

The prospect of civil marriage in Israel is receding, but civil burial became easier with the opening of the country’s second state civil cemetery.

Administered by a non-governmental organisation called Menucha Nechona (Proper Rest), the new facility, in Kfar Saba, will accommodate people of all religions and none. Burial rituals will be a matter of personal choice, as will be the style of burial. Coffins, though unusual in Israel, may be used.

There is only one other state civil cemetery; in Be’er Sheba in the Negev.

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