World news

Cautious optimism as PA economy booms

By Ben Lynfield, Nablus, August 20, 2009

For now, the store owners are smiling in Nablus, a city usually known for its violent uprisings, armed gunmen prowling the streets and hard-hitting clampdowns by Israeli soldiers.

The economy is lifting off after Israel eased or removed the checkpoints ringing the city, a process also underway elsewhere in the West Bank. In a recent report, the International Monetary Fund forecast a seven per cent growth rate for the West Bank for 2009.


Denier Fredrick Toben jailed in Australia

By Dan Goldberg, August 20, 2009

Dr Fredrick Toben, the Holocaust denier who avoided extradition from Britain to Germany last year, is finally behind bars in Australia.

Toben, 65, the director of the Adelaide Institute in South Australia, was found guilty in May on 24 counts of contempt of a 2002 court order to remove antisemitic material from his website.

This included claims that gas chambers did not exist at Auschwitz and that the Holocaust was “a lie”.


Swedish reporter: "I don't know if IDF story is true"

By Jessica Elgot, August 19, 2009

The reporter who penned the Israeli organ trafficking story for a Swedish newspaper has said he does not know whether the report is true.

Journalist Donald Bostrom, who wrote that IDF soldiers were killing Palestinians for their organs in Swedish daily Aftonbladet, told Israel Radio: "Whether it's true or not - I have no idea, I have no clue."

"I have a personal opinion; it concerns me that it's true.”


"Blood libel": IDF organ trafficking claim

By Jessica Elgot, August 19, 2009

A Swedish newspaper has claimed that IDF soldiers murdered Palestinian youths to sell their organs, prompting a shocked Israeli government to call the suggestion a “blood libel.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry called the article in the Swedish daily Aftonbladet “a shocking example of Israel’s demonisation.”

The paper, which is Sweden's biggest-selling daily, ran the headline "They plunder the organs of our sons" and a double-page spread devoted to the article.


Liechtenstein's banks "helped Holocaust victims"

By Jessica Elgot, August 18, 2009

The Prince of Liechtenstein has outraged Jews in Germany by apparently using the Holocaust to defend its secretive banking practices.

Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, 64, slammed the German government for putting pressure on the alpine principality to clamp down on wealthy Germans who use the confidential Lichtenstein banking system to evade taxes.

The prince claimed many Jews had been saved during the Holocaust because they were able to buy their safety using secret bank accounts.


Virgin Atlantic "in talks" with El Al

By Jessica Elgot, August 13, 2009

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic is reported to be in talks with El Al about a possible deal between the two airlines.

A number of options were under consideration and a takeover or substantial investment in El Al by Virgin Atlantic had not been ruled out, a source told Globes Online

But Shoma Amin, a spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic was quick to deny rumours.She said: "We explore many opportunities but can confirm we will not be taking over or investing in El Al."


David Mamet to make Anne Frank film

By Jessica Elgot, August 13, 2009

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Jewish writer David Mamet is to script a new film version of the diary of Anne Frank.

The film, produced by Walt Disney, will be closely based on the diary of 15-year-old Anne, who died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after hiding in Nazi-occupied Holland for two years with her family.

Mr Mamet won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Glengarry Glen Ross, which was later turned into film starring Al Pacino.

More recently, Mr Mamet received Oscar nominations for his screenplays and The Verdict


American Jews ‘losing their faith’

By Simon Rocker, August 13, 2009

The number of American Jews who regard themselves as culturally rather than religiously Jewish has almost doubled in a decade, according to new research.

American Jews who identify by ethnicity have increased from 20 per cent to 37 per cent of the American Jewish population since 1990, while the proportion of those who follow any of the streams of Judaism has dropped by more than a fifth in the same period.


Anger over Hizbollah TV go-ahead

By Dan Goldberg, Sydney, August 13, 2009

Jewish leaders in Australia are outraged that a television station sponsored by Hizbollah has been permitted to broadcast.

The move last week by the Australian Communications and Media Authority to allow Al-Manar TV access to Australia reverses two previous decisions to ban it.

Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, blasted ACMA’s decision that Al-Manar did not violate the government’s amended anti-terror laws as “regrettable, if unsurprising.


Nazi killer gets life in jail — 65 years late

By Toby Axelrod, Berlin, August 13, 2009

A Munich court has sentenced a former German Wehrmacht lieutenant to spend the rest of his life in jail for ordering the killings of Italian villagers in June 1944. Josef Scheungraber, 90, was found guilty of ten of the 14 murders with which he had been charged.

He had been living for decades in a town outside Munich, where he served on the town council.