World news

New Zealand shechitah ban

By Dan Goldberg, June 1, 2010

New Zealand has banned the kosher slaughter of animals, provoking outrage and anger among the small Jewish community.

The new animal welfare code, which became effective last Friday, mandates that all animals for commercial consumption must be stunned prior to slaughter to ensure “animals are humanely killed”. This effectively outlaws shechitah, which does not allow for animals to be stunned before slaughter.

While kosher beef and lamb can be imported to New Zealand, under Kiwi law no poultry – kosher or not – is allowed into the country.


Antwerp synagogue Torah theft

By Jennifer Lipman, June 1, 2010

A 200 year old Sefer Torah scroll is among several that have been stolen from Belgium’s largest synagogue.

Police are investigating after congregants arrived for Shabbat services to find at least four Torahs missing from Antwerp’s main synagogue.

The scrolls, said to be worth 30,000 euros (£25,000) each, had been kept inside the Ark at the Oostenstraat synagogue.

One is more than 200 years old and had been hidden during the Holocaust by a woman deported to a Nazi concentration camp.


Gaza analysis: These were not 'peace protesters'

By Stephen Pollard, May 31, 2010

It’s depressing, but not in the least bit surprising, that the ‘condemn first, ask questions later (if at all)’ attitude towards Israel is as universal as ever.

To judge from the media coverage of what happened last night, you’d think that the IDF had attacked a defenceless group of peace activists almost for the sake of it, shooting indiscriminately and behaving like barbarians.


Gaza protesters killed in clash with IDF

May 31, 2010

Up to sixteen members of a Turkish Gaza protest organisation are said to have been killed by Israeli forces after fighting on board a flotilla of ships en route to Gaza.

The ships, part of an ‘aid convoy’ from the ‘Free Gaza’ organisation, a Turkish based group, had left northern Cyprus on Sunday. Six boats carried 600 activists. One of those on board was Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the Northern Ireland peace protester who won a Nobel Prize in 1976.


Chomsky meets Hizbollah in Lebanon

By Jessica Elgot, May 28, 2010

US academic Noam Chomsky, who was barred from entering Israel last week has met Hizbollah’s spiritual leader in Lebanon, telling him Israel has a “persecution complex.”

Professor Chomsky, who has been an outspoken critic of Israel, met Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah in Lebanon, where he told the Hizbollah leader he did not expect Israel to attack Lebanon except out of a “mentality of madness”.


Australia expels Israeli diplomat

By Dan Goldberg, May 27, 2010

Australia followed Britain's lead this week, ordering the dismissal of a diplomat from the Israeli Embassy in Canberra after an investigation concluded there was "no doubt" that the Jewish state had doctored four Australian passports used in the assassination of a senior Hamas leader in January.

Stressing that the decision was taken "much more in sorrow than in anger," Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said: "These are not the actions of a friend. No government can tolerate the abuse of its passports, especially by a foreign government."


Wiesel blasts 'obscene' Madoff play

By Nathan Guttman, May 27, 2010

Some issues might still be too sensitive. This could be the lesson learned by Washington's Jewish theatre, which had to cancel a play on the Madoff financial scandal.

In Imagining Madoff, by playwright Deb Margolin, a fictional Bernie Madoff is depicted sitting in his prison cell as he recalls a conversation he had with Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate whose foundation lost more than $15 million in Madoff's Ponzi scam.


Nazi to be deported from US

May 27, 2010

An 85-year-old man, who has admitted he was a SS guard at three Nazi concentration camps, has had his US citizenship revoked and will be deported to Austria.

Yugoslavian-born Anton Geiser, who now lives in Sharon, Philadelphia, admitted he served as an SS guard in Sachsenhausen in 1943, where he marched forced labourers and was on orders to shoot attempted escapees. He was a member of the SS Death's Head battalion.

Mr Geiser stayed in Austria from 1948 to 1956, before he emigrated to the US.


US Jewish charities fall out over funding

By Paul Berger, May 27, 2010

Two major Jewish organisations are battling over $130 million donated annually by American Jews.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel have been haggling in private over a share of overseas
fundraising for a couple of years.

But in recent weeks, the argument has spilled out into the open.

At issue is a formula which divides money from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA ) between the two bodies, favouring the Jewish Agency by a margin of three to one.


Obama welcomes heritage festival

By Hilary Krieger, May 27, 2010

For the first time since its inception four years ago, Jewish American Heritage Month has received a full-blown White House reception, hosted this week by US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The event was due to feature some of the biggest names in US Jewry, from sports and literary icons to leading scholars and businessmen - not to mention Jewish members of Congress, major Democratic political players and key Obama fundraisers.