World news

New Jersey fraud witness in court

By Jessica Elgot, October 20, 2009

One of the key figures in a major New Jersey corruption case, involving members of the Syrian Jewish community, has appeared in court.

Solomon Dwek, 36, is expected to plead guilty to a total $50 million fraud.

The son of a Monmouth County rabbi, Mr Dwek, who was arrested in 2006, agreed to act as a co-operating witness to trap crooked politicians engaged in fraud, bribery and money laundering.

Forty-five people were arrested during the swoop in New Jersey in the summer of 2009, including several rabbis. Six people have pleaded guilty.


NASA man accused of spying for Mossad

By Jessica Elgot, October 20, 2009

An American space scientist has been arrested after he attempted to sell US secrets to an undercover FBI agent, posing as a Mossad representative.

Stewart David Nozette, 52, from Chevy Chase, Maryland, who is Jewish, has worked for the Pentagon and for NASA.

During his career, he developed an experiment which led to the discovery of water on the moon, and worked at the White House on the National Space Council.


Iran nuclear talks stall in Vienna

By Jessica Elgot, October 19, 2009

New talks over Iran’s uranium enrichment programme have begun in Vienna, but diplomats are pessimistic about Iran keeping its promise to export 75 per cent of its uranium stock.

Today’s talks among the US, Russia, France and Iran were intended to discuss the technical process of moving the enriched uranium to Russia and France.

But now Iran has reportedly retracted its agreement, and is refusing to allow so much of its uranium stock to be exported to the two countries.


Yankees cancel singer for antisemitic joke

By Jessica Elgot, October 16, 2009

An Irish tenor has been banned from singing ‘God Bless America’ at an important Yankees baseball game after telling an antisemitic joke.

Ronan Tynan, who was born in Kilkenny, made his name singing patriotic songs at American sports events, and sang ‘Ave Maria’ at the funeral of Ronald Reagan.

But Mr Tynan’s career took a nosedive after he made an antisemitic joke to a Jewish doctor.

Mr Tynan bumped into an estate agent showing the doctor around a apartment in his block.


UN backs Goldstone report into Gaza

By Jessica Elgot, October 16, 2009

The UN Human Rights Council has adopted the Goldstone Report, with a huge majority voting in favour of referring the report’s recommendations to the UN Security Council.

Twenty-five members voted in favour, with six voting against the report, including the US. Eleven countries, including Britain and France, declined to vote.

Israel does not have a seat on the Human Rights Council, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak personally telephoned European leaders, including Gordon Brown and David Miliband, urging them to vote against the report.


Italian Jews launch paper for gentiles

By Ruth Ellen Gruber, Rome, October 15, 2009

Italy’s first ever national Jewish newspaper hits the newsstands this month — with a twist.

While other Jewish papers across the world, such as the JC and Germany’s Juedische Allgemeine — on which it is explicitly modelled — are written for the Jewish population, Pagine Ebraiche (Jewish Pages) is being written for non-Jews.


Trial of kosher meat plant owner opens

By Paul Berger, October 15, 2009

The former CEO of America’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant went on trial this week.

Shlomo Rubashkin, formerly of Agriprocessors, Inc, faces almost 100 charges relating to falsifying financial papers in order to secure advances on a $35 million loan.

In a separate trial, due to begin after the close of this one, he faces 72 charges relating to immigration violations.

If convicted, Mr Rubashkin, 49, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Agriprocessors, in Postville, Iowa, was the scene last May of the largest immigration raid in American history.


Orthodox 'shielding sex abusers'

By Paul Berger, October 15, 2009

A New York State Supreme Court judge has criticised the Orthodox community for shielding perpetrators of sexual abuse while persecuting victims.

Judge Gustin Reichbach lamented the community’s “circle-the-wagons attitude” as he sentenced Yona Weinberg, a barmitzvah tutor and social worker from Brooklyn, to 13 months in jail for molesting two boys.

At the sentencing earlier this month, the courtroom was filled with Weinberg’s supporters. Almost 100 members of the Orthodox community wrote letters to the judge defending him.


Army of Nazi gnomes invade Germany

By Jessica Elgot, October 15, 2009

The German town of Straubing is hosting 1,250 black garden gnomes, who are raising their right arms in a Hitler salute.

The 15-inch gnomes, who are part of an artwork called Dance with the Devil by Professor Ottmar Hoerl, are displayed in a military formation in the town centre.

The town in Lower Bavaria was chosen because of its Nazi connections. The square where the gnomes are displayed hosted Nazi parades. The town’s 42 Jews were all sent to concentration camps.


US approves bill to allow Iran sanctions

By Jessica Elgot, October 15, 2009

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to allow sanctions against Iran.

The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act passed by a huge majority vote of 414-6.

The act will allow the state and local governments to pull funding from companies that make more than $20 million by investing in Iran’s energy sector, including petrol, natural gas and nuclear power.

It will also protect any fund manager who divests from the companies from being sued by them.