World news

Film festival rejects Loach's Israel boycott

By Jessica Elgot, July 17, 2009

An Australian film festival has said it will not bow to pressure from British filmmaker Ken Loach to boycott Israeli films and sponsors.

The chief executive of the Melbourne International Film Festival, Richard Moore, has rejected a threat by Mr Loach to withdraw his film Looking for Eric, starring Eric Cantona, unless the film festival boycotts Israel.
He said films had been chosen solely on artistic merit for next week's festval.


Paris JDL members arrested for attack

July 16, 2009

Four Jewish men, suspected of being members of the Paris branch of the Jewish Defence League, are in police custody, accused of vandalising a bookshop.

The JDL has links with the extreme-right Kach movement, founded in New York by Rabbi Meir Kahane in the 1970s.

It is outlawed by the European Union, Israel, Canada and the United States. It is also connected to offshoot Kahane Chai (Kahane Lives).


Is London to blame for New York measles?

By Jeremy Gillick, July 16, 2009

The New York Department of Health suspects that an outbreak of measles in the Chasidic community may have originated in London.

Twelve cases have been confirmed over the past two months, the majority of them in Williamsburg, home to around 70,000 Satmar Chasidim, and two in Borough Park, a Bobover enclave.

“We have not identified any source yet,” said Dr Jane Zucker, assistant commissioner for immunisation at New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “but in the past we have had measles imported from the UK and other European countries.


Retrial for Halimi murder gang

By Shirli Sitbon, July 16, 2009

Fourteen of the 25 gang members who were convicted last Friday of kidnapping and murdering 23-year-old Ilan Halimi in 2006 are going to be retried, because their sentences were deemed too lenient.

The ringleader, Youssouf Fofana, was sentenced to life imprisonment and his sentence will stand. But other sentences were just six months long, and some were suspended.

The woman who seduced Mr Halimi, leading him to the gang, was sentenced to nine years in jail and could be freed in two.

Two gang members were acquitted altogether.


Human Rights Watch seeks Saudi donors

By Jessica Elgot, July 16, 2009

The director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division is attempting to raise money from Saudi investors, a report has alleged.

The report by the Wall Street Journal alleges that the director, Sarah Leah Whitson, has been seeking money from senior Saudis, in part by highlighting the organisation’s condemnation of Israel.

Her targets have included a member of the Shura Council, which oversees the imposition in the country of strict Islamic law.


"Immoral" Bruno banned in the Ukraine

By Jessica Elgot, July 16, 2009

The Ministry for Culture in the Ukraine has banned Sacha Baron Cohen's "Bruno," because it is "morally dangerous."

The Jewish comedian's new movie centres on the misdemeanours of a flamboyant gay fashion journalist from Austria seeking fame in the USA.

But the film's depictions of homosexual sex and and obscene language have seen it banned by the Ukarinian government.

Austrian officials have complained about how their country is portrayed in the film, but have not taken any action against it.


Blair to speak at Reform convention

By Jessica Elgot, July 15, 2009

Tony Blair will be the star speaker at the North American Reform movement's 2009 biennial conference in Toronto.

The Union of Reform Judaism's conference is being held in November with 5,000 Reform Jews expected to attend.

Mr Blair, the former British Prime Minister, is currently Middle East envoy for the Quartet, which is made up of the United Nations, the US, Russia and the European Union, as part of the Middle East peace process.

Mr Blair met Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this week to discuss ways to improve the Palestinian economy.


Obama's pledge to US Jews

By Jessica Elgot, July 14, 2009

President Barack Obama has told US Jews that America is committed to Israel's security and would not pursue any foreign policy which would risk that.

The president was speaking with leading Jewish groups at a hour-long private White House conference.

During the meeting, Mr Obama stressed the importance of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians people and addressed the concerns of the group on appeasing Iran, participants said.


Retrial after 'light' Halimi murder sentences

By Jessica Elgot, July 14, 2009

A Paris court has ordered the re-trial of a some members of a gang connected to the murder of young Jewish man, because their sentences were "too lenient."

Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie personally intervened to ask the French public prosecutor for longer jail terms.

Those who will eventually be retried will not, however, include Youssouf Fofana, 28, the ringleader of the gang, who was sentenced to a maximum sentence of life in prison, without possibility of parole for 22 years.

Mr. Fofana was the only defendant convicted of murder.


Obama in talks with US Jewish leaders

By Jessica Elgot, July 13, 2009

President Barack Obama is meeting US Jewish leaders to respond to their concerns over his Middle East policies.

Although ostensibly the leaders have been invited to discuss Mr Obama’s domestic policy, in fact he is understood to be particularly addressing the pressure he is putting on the Israeli government to crack down on illegal Jewish settlements.

Mr Obama has invited representatives from Orthodox, Conservative and Reform groups alongside major American Jewish organisations such as the American Jewish Committee and Hadassah.