World news

UN General Assembly begins debate on Goldstone Report

By Jessica Elgot, November 4, 2009

The United Nations General Assembly has begun debating the Goldstone Report in New York.

Arab delegates presented a resolution calling on UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to act on Goldstone’s recommendations, which included referring Israel and Hamas to the International Court of Justice in the Hague if no action had been taken within six months.

More than 40 people are due to speak during the debate, which is expected to run until Thursday.

The UN General Assembly is likely to defer judgement on the report to the UN Security Council

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House of Representatives condemn Goldstone

By Jessica Elgot, November 4, 2009

The US House of Representatives has condemned the UN Goldstone Report by an overwhelming majority, calling the report “one-sided and distorted”.

The representatives voted 344 to 36 to endorse a symbolic resolution to condemn the report which was highly critical of Israel’s conduct during the Gaza offensive early this year. Twenty-two of the delegates declined to vote.

The report will be discussed at the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly today in New York.

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Polish Chief Rabbi: my views on Kaminski

By Jessica Elgot, October 30, 2009

The Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, has reiterated that he does not believe controversial Polish MEP Michal Kaminski is antisemitic — but admitted he does have concerns over the politician’s past.

Mr Kaminski has been at the centre of the row over the Conservatives' new rightwing allies in the European parliament. He is the leader of the European parties' bloc.

He has been accused of antisemitism by the Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who used Rabbi Schudrich’s comments to the New Statesman as a basis for his attack.

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Two men shot at LA synagogue

By Jessica Elgot, October 30, 2009

Two men have been shot and wounded outside a Los Angeles synagogue in what police described as a hate crime.

Maor Ben-Nissan, 38, and Allen Lasry, 53, were shot in the car park of the Adat Yeshurun Valley Synagogue in North Hollywood, an Orthodox Sephardi synagogue to which they both belonged.

The men had arrived for the morning service at 6.30am when a gunman approached them and shot each of them in the legs, without speaking or taking anything from them.

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Can Beirut's last synagogue still be saved?

By Josie Ensor, October 29, 2009

A scheme to renovate Beirut’s last standing shul is running out of money.

Maghen Abraham Synagogue, located in the former Jewish quarter of the Lebanese capital, was destroyed by Israeli shelling in 1982. It has been abandoned ever since, leaving Lebanese Jews without a synagogue building.

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Australia textbook ‘offensive’

By Dan Goldberg, October 29, 2009

The Asia-Pacific arm of a major UK publisher has withdrawn a secondary school textbook from Australian shelves, after it was accused of containing offensive claims about Jews.

Cambridge University Press (Australia & New Zealand) said on Tuesday that it “recognised the concerns that have been expressed” about the chapter on Judaism in the Cambridge Studies of Religion, and would “seek the advice of an independent expert in Judaism”.

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The cure for secular US Jews? Free trips to Israel

By Paul Berger, October 29, 2009

A new study claims to have found a cure for young Jews dropping out of the community. It costs about $2,500, lasts 10 days and is called Taglit-Birthright Israel.

Taglit sends Jews aged 18 to 26 who have never been to Israel, on a free, 10-day trip to the Jewish state. Its goal, when it launched in 1999, was to foster the connection between young Jews, Israel and the Jewish community.

Professor Leonard Saxe of Brandeis University this week revealed the findings of a five-month study of Taglit alumni who went to Israel between 2001 and 2004.

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1,500 back launch of US 'peace' lobby

By Nathan Guttman, October 29, 2009

“This is truly a birth of a movement,” declared Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street, the dovish Israel lobby, at his group’s first ever national conference.

For Mr Ben-Ami, the three-day parley in Washington DC, which brought together 1,500 activists, was a success. It attracted attention from the media and the foreign policy community, gained a stamp of approval from the administration and many members of Congress, and overcame a boycott by the Israeli ambassador to Washington.

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Australia's Borat stirs up race relations

By Dan Goldberg, October 29, 2009

Imagine, for a moment, a Jewish comedian arousing himself on camera with the aid of Barack Obama’s book. Or being crucified on a giant cross in the Philippines on Easter Sunday. Or transforming himself from a white Jew to a black brother in Chicago.

Sounds like scenes from Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest outrageous satire, right? Wrong.

They’re from John Safran’s Race Relations, an eight-part series that began airing amid a public furore on Australian TV last week.

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Chief Rabbi of Poland: Kaminski's no antisemite

By Jessica Elgot, October 29, 2009

The Chief Rabbi of Poland has defended controversial Polish MEP Michal Kaminski against charges of antisemitism and criticised the New Statesman magazine for a “grotesque distortion” of his words.

Mr Kaminski was at the centre of the row over the Conservative Party’s new alliance in the European Parliament, and concerns were raised by community leaders over his alleged antisemitism.

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