World news

Date turns sour for Sex and the City star Kristin Davis

By Marcus Dysch, August 13, 2009

Playing the role of Charlotte in Sex and the City, Kristin Davis’s biggest concern was finding Mr Right. But this week she found herself at the centre of a bigger problem — an international row over West Bank settlements.

Ms Davis, whose character in the TV series converted to Judaism to marry lawyer Harry Goldenblatt, has worked as a goodwill ambassador for Oxfam since 2005, visiting HIV and Aids projects in Mozambique, Uganda and South Africa.


NY crash pilot was Jewish businessman

By Jessica Elgot, August 11, 2009

The pilot killed in this weekend's New York plane and helicopter collision was a wealthy Jewish philanthropist who used the plane in which he died in to transport sick people to hospital for charity.

Steven Altman, 60, a property tycoon from Ambler, near Philadelphia, was flying the plane in clear weather, with his brother Daniel and his 15-year-old nephew Douglas when he hit a helicopter and crashed into the Hudson River, Manhattan.


Ex-Nazi commander jailed for Italy massacre

By Jessica Elgot, August 11, 2009

A 90-year-old former Nazi commander has been jailed for life in Munich for ordering the deaths of 14 people in an Italian village during the second world war.

Josef Scheungraber, as a 25-year-old Wehrmacht lieutenant, ordered the massacre of the civilians in 1944 in the Italian village of Falzano di Cortona in Tuscany.

He denied he explicitly told the military police to kill the victims, 11 of whom were locked into a farmhouse which was set alight.


Woman pays $32,000 for dog to fly business class

By Jessica Elgot, August 10, 2009

An Israeli woman has paid El Al $32,000 to reserve the whole of a business class section from Paris to Tel Aviv for herself and her “baby”.

But her baby is boxer dog “Or”, whom she refused to leave alone in the hold, in case he became anxious or scared during the flight.

The 60-year-old woman, named only as “Rivkah,” said she wanted to make sure that she would be able to calm him down.

The airline reportedly removed seats in business class to make room for Or’s cage, and Rivkah also hired a vet to accompany them on the flight.


Restoration for Lebanon's oldest synagogue

By Jessica Elgot, August 7, 2009

Beirut's oldest synagogue, Magen Abraham, was devastated during the Lebanese civil war, but work has finally begun to give it a new lease of life.

Magen Abraham, which was built in 1926 in the traditionally Jewish neighbourhood of Wadi Abou Jmil, fell on the Muslim side of Beirut during the war which lasted from 1975 to 1990.

Two other synagogues still remain in Lebanon, in mountain towns east of Beirut, but they have been closed since the war.


Top German honour for Israeli lawyer provokes outrage

By John Rosenthal, August 6, 2009

Germany has just awarded one of its highest honours, the “Federal Merit Cross, First Class”, to Israeli lawyer Felicia Langer. A former member of the Israeli Communist Party, Langer is known in Germany, above all, as a ferocious critic of Israel.


Anger over US medal for Israel critic

By Nathan Guttman, August 6, 2009

In the current contentious relationship between the Obama administration and Israel, even symbolic gestures are being taken as signs that the bond between the two countries is deteriorating.

Such is the case with Mary Robinson’s selection as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour.

The former president of Ireland and UN High Commissioner on Human Rights is among the 16 US and international figures who will receive the medal at an August 12 White House ceremony.


SATC star leaves Oxfam for Israeli cosmetics

By Jessica Elgot, August 6, 2009

Sex and the City actress Kristin Davis is an unlikely champion of Israel, even if her character Charlotte did convert to Judaism in the hit series.

But reports claim the actress, 44, has taken a break from her role as an ambassador for Oxfam International because of her endorsement of Ahava cosmetics, which is manufactured by Dead Sea Cosmetics in the Mitzhe Shalem West Bank settlement.

Oxfam are reported to have said there was conflict of interest because the cosmetics are manufactured in “disputed territory.”


Last Jew of Vilkaviskis goes home

By Marcus Dysch, August 6, 2009

When Eli Rutstein and his family left Vilkaviskis 45 years ago, they were the last Jews to leave the Lithuanian town which had once boasted a Jewish community of thousands.

After they left for Israel, the town’s Jewish past was largely forgotten and its 50,000 residents are mostly now unaware of the role the community once played.

But last week Mr Rutstein, now a 61-year-old father-of-three, returned to his home town and received a hero’s welcome from civic dignitaries and former classmates.


Call to lift German Mein Kampf ban

By Jessica Elgot, August 6, 2009

Germany’s main Jewish representative organisation has renewed its efforts to overturn the state’s ban on publishing Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council for Jews in Germany has called for the publication of a scholarly edition of the book, with footnotes challenging Hitler’s assertions, claiming it would prevent black market printing of the book where neo-Nazi groups profit.

Mr Kramer also argued that continuing to ban the book would glamorise it, and that Germans were sophisticated enough to make up their own minds.