World news

Italy pulls out of Durban II

March 12, 2009

Italy has pulled out of the United Nations conference on racism to be held in Geneva from April 20 to 24. Canada, Israel and the USA have already pulled out of the event, which is set to become a forum for anti-Israel rhetoric and antisemitism.

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Megillah read in Oswiecim

March 12, 2009

The Megillah has been read in the only surviving synagogue in Ozwiecim, the Polish town next to Auschwitz concentration camp, for the first time in at least 70 years.

Jewish historian Jerry Gotel read the story of Esther in the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot synagogue, which had been destroyed by the Nazis and turned into a warehouse during the Soviet era, but which has now been recovered and restored as close as possible to the original.

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Name of bombed centre carved into man’s back

March 12, 2009

A lawyer who was a former investigator into the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires’ Jewish community centre was kidnapped on Friday and tortured by men seeking information on the investigation.

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Wartime pope’s secret heroism

By Simon Caldwell, February 26, 2009

Documents that show the wartime pope saved tens of thousands of European Jews from the Nazis have been discovered in the Vatican’s
archives.

The 300 pages reveal that Pope Pius XII directly ordered convents, monasteries and Catholic churches to hide Jews from the Gestapo.

He also helped Jews to escape to safe countries, requesting the Brazilian government to receive 3,000 “non-Aryans” and persuading the Dominican Republic to grant visas for a further 11,000 people.

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Auschwitz plans on display

February 26, 2009

Blueprints for the Auschwitz concentration camp have gone on display in a Berlin exhibition for the first time. The 29 sketches, discovered last year in a Berlin flat and bought by the Bild newspaper, date from 1941-1942 and show plans to extend buildings in the camp.

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Canadian boycott motion

February 26, 2009

A major Canadian union has adopted a resolution supporting a university boycott of Israel. The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents some 200,000 people, will decide in May whether to cut ties between universities in Ontario and in Israel.

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‘Cleanse shuls’: Hungary

February 26, 2009

Hungarian Jews lodged an official complaint after a far-right politician called on fellow councillors to take up “sickles and hacks” and “cleanse” nearby synagogues. Attila Kiss,who sits on the Rajka city council, is also a member of the banned paramilitary Hungarian guard.

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Anger as Schroeder visits Iran

February 26, 2009

German Jewish leaders harshly criticised former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for meeting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran. Mr Schroeder, who works for Russian energy giant Gazprom, called for direct talks between the US and Iran.

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Israel says sorry to Turkey

By Sami Kohen, February 26, 2009

Israel has formally apologised to Turkey for sentiments expressed by the Israeli ground forces commander, General Avi Mizrachi, in response to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s verbal attack on Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Davos conference.

“Erdogan should look into the mirror,” said General Mizrachi, referring to the Turkish killings of Armenians in 1915 and the more recent suppression of Kurds in eastern Turkey.

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US attendance at Durban II still in balance

By Nathan Guttman, February 26, 2009

As the Obama administration attempted to engage with organisers of the UN World Conference against Racism this week, a troubling picture emerged of the resolutions expected to be adopted at the conference.

The April event (dubbed Durban II after the first conference, held in South Africa in 2001) has been high on the agenda of Jewish leaders and Israeli diplomats for more than a year, as they worry it will serve once again as a platform for accusations against Israel of racism.

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