World news

A political war is fought over Israel’s courts

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

After years of being a bastion of Israel’s liberal-left establishment, the Supreme Court appears to be moving to the right.

There is currently deadlock in the appointment of three new Supreme Court judges, with an ideological battle being waged between religious and right-wing representatives and the secular, mostly Ashekanzi left.
The Judicial Appointments Committee is chaired by the Justice Minister, and also includes three judges from the Supreme Court, three Knesset members and two representatives of the Israel Bar Association.


Religious battle rages over IDF

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

A behind-the-scenes struggle is going on in the IDF over the role of the military Rabbinate and the increasing number of soldiers asking the IDF to accommodate their religious needs.

The IDF Chief Rabbi, Brigadier General Avihai Rontzki, has angered many senior officers by what they see as undue intrusion of the military rabbis into the internal affairs of the army’s units.

Rabbi Rontzki has told his rabbis that they are there “not only to distribute wine and challahs for Shabbat” but to “bring yiddishkeit and a fighting spirit to the soldiers in the field”.


Turkish Jews reach out

By Sasha Brenner, July 9, 2009

The Jewish Turkish community is seeking to reach out to the Muslim population with a series of cultural and educational events.
The aim is to improve understanding of their community, particularly among young people.
“In the eyes of our society, Turkish Jews are the others of the other,” Lina Filiba, Vice President of the Jewish Community of Turkey said.
“We are shouting out that we’re Turks, but people keep seeing us as Israelis.”
The programme will launch this week with a concert featuring traditional Turkish music composed by Jews.


Tired of Al Jazeera? I’m beaming kosher TV across the Middle East

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

Next week, for the first time, a Jewish news channel will begin broadcasting via satellite to the entire Middle East, trying to persuade the Arabs that a Jewish presence in their midst is not such a bad idea after all.

Unlike previous grandiose plans to launch a pro-Israel hasbarah channel to counter the influence of Al Jazeera, this project is much more humble, at least to start with.

Israeli businesswoman Galia Albin has just bought a controlling stake in the small Jewish Life TV (JLTV) channel, which is currently carried on American cable and digital services.


Prince Hassan calls for EU-style MidEast union

By Bernard Josephs, July 9, 2009

An impassioned plea for Middle East nations to form an EU-style organisation to deal with human rights, the environment and the scarcity of water has been made in London by Jordan’s Prince Hassan.

Addressing an audience of diplomats and British supporters of Neve Shalom Wahat al-Salam — a village in central Israel where Jews and Arabs live together in equality — the Prince warned that time was running out for the region.

Economic and social cohesion were essential to the security concerns of Israel and the Arab world. “We are mutually dependent,” he said.


Amnesty slams critics of war crimes report

By Marcus Dysch, July 9, 2009

Amnesty International has defended its report of the Gaza conflict in the face of fierce criticism from the IDF and NGO Monitor.
Although the report, Operation Cast Lead: 22 Days of Death and Destruction, says both sides committed war crimes, it focuses overwhelmingly on the actions of the Israeli army.

Amnesty’s Jeremy Croft said the charity “absolutely refuted” NGO Monitor’s attempt to “rubbish” the document, and said that since February, the IDF had refused requests to discuss the findings.


Anger flares at doctors’ meeting

July 9, 2009

Dr Yoram Blachar has criticised the British Medical Association for allowing Israeli doctors to be compared to those of Sri Lanka and Darfur.

Dr Blachar, as president of the World Medical Association, was a guest at the BMA’s conference in Liverpool last week.

He sat in silence as Israel was criticised by two speakers during a debate about the main resolution put to the conference.


Israeli medical chief returns fire on ‘torture’

By Leon Symons, July 9, 2009

The Israeli president of the World Medical Association has challenged his main critics to put up or shut up.

He says that if they have a case against Israeli doctors whom they believe to have been complicit in the torture of Palestinians, they should lodge complaints with the police and the state’s Attorney General.


Professor: diaspora in danger

By James Martin, July 9, 2009

Diaspora Jews are under increasing threat from assimilation due to a lack of “mission causes”, according to an international expert on Jewish history.

Brandeis University’s Professor Jonathan Sarna made the statement while delivering the first William Frankel memorial lecture last week, in memory of the former JC editor and chairman, who died last April.

Professor Sarna told the 100-strong Institute for Jewish Policy Research audience that the recession would reduce communal expenditure, “which would weaken links to Jewish identity for a generation of youngsters”.


Sonja Kohn — her bank statement

July 9, 2009

Sonja Kohn has repeatedly denied receiving payments from Bernie Madoff and denied knowing that Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme, telling journalists, “I am his biggest victim”.

A representative of Bank Medici told the JC, “Bank Medici and the Kohn family are victims of Mr Madoff. Both Bank Medici and the Kohn family had substantial investment in the Herald Funds. Bank Medici was active in institutional business and only eight customers of Bank Medici AG were invested in Madoff funds. Their combined total investment is a one digit million Euro sum.