World news

Portman visits Rwanda to open youth village

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 6, 2008

Hollywood star Natalie Portman visited Rwanda this week to highlight the opening of a youth village for orphans of the genocide, sponsored by Jewish donors and staffed by Israelis.


Obama woos Israel lobby

By Nathan Guttman, June 6, 2008

The largest-ever conference of pro-Israel activists convened in Washington DC this week. It took a political flavour as presidential candidates used the event to tout their pro-Israel credentials and tried to court the Jewish community for support in the coming November elections.

The main message sent out by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) focused on the need to take tough measures against Iran. Presidential hopefuls followed suit, promising to increase pressure on Tehran, if and when elected to the White House.


Olmert in his Aipac swansong

By Nathan Guttman, June 6, 2008

In what may be his last trip as prime minister to Washington, embattled Israeli leader Ehud Olmert met President George Bush and congressional leaders.


The Arab envoy... who’s Jewish

By Candice Krieger, June 6, 2008

A woman believed to be the Arab world’s first Jewish ambassador, Houda Nonoo, was named this week as Bahrain’s ambassador to Washington. And according to her former headmaster, the British-educated envoy was the perfect student.

Houda Nonoo, educated in Britain

Ms Nonoo, 43, came to london aged 13 to better her education. she boarded at Carmel College, oxfordshire, together with her younger brother, Abraham.


Synagogue didn’t dig deep for my wages, claims cemetery worker

By Candice Krieger, May 30, 2008

A Jewish cemetery worker is accusing the United Synagogue of racial discrimination, claiming that non-Jewish workers were paid more than him for working at Christmas.

Peter Sollosi, 48, who was employed by the US as part of its chevrah kadisha (burial committee), said he felt “bullied” by the US which, he claims, made unlawful deductions from his wages.

He alleges that though he was paid double his daily salary for Christmas Day 2006, non-Jewish workers were paid five times their normal rate.


Israel deports Finkelstein after his Hizbollah visit

May 30, 2008

Norman Finkelstein, the American Jewish academic who has long been an outspoken critic of Israel, has been denied entry to the country.

He was put on a plane back to Amsterdam after being questioned by security officials at Ben Gurion airport after landing last Friday.

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Dr Finkelstein said he had been banned from the country for 10 years.


Carter presses nuke button

By Francesca Segal, May 30, 2008

Former US president Jimmy Carter has breached diplomatic protocol by making specific public claims about Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

He became the first president to acknowledge publicly Israel’s nuclear capability when he addressed an invited audience of journalists last week at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival, on the Welsh borders.


Peace talks no comfort for jaded Golan Druze

By Paula Slier, May 30, 2008

As Israel and Syria start talks, a community mulls its divided loyalties

In the central square of Majdal Shams, the largest of the four Druze villages in the Golan Heights, towers a large statue of Sultan Basha El-Atrash.

Engraved below the Syrian resistance hero who fought French colonialism are two lines in Arabic by the Tunisian poet Abu El-Qassem El-Shabi: “If one day the people desire freedom and life, then inevitably destiny will comply — and inevitably darkness will melt away, and inevitably the chains will be broken.”


PA economy is a 'coiled spring'

By Ben Lynfield, May 30, 2008

A festival for Jericho celebrating it as the world’s oldest city; call centres providing jobs in the West Bank; a water desalination project for Gaza.

These and visions of new towns in the Judean hills were on offer last week at the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem, hosted by Tony Blair and the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salaam Fayyad.

“The Palestinian economy is like a coiled spring. It has been put down and down and down and it is ready to bounce back,” Sir Ronald Cohen, head of the Portland Trust, told the conference.


Ex-slave lobbies Israel to aid Darfur refugees

By Ben Lynfield, May 30, 2008

While he was settling into his new life in the United States in 1991 Simon Deng saw a newspaper headline proclaiming that human beings were for sale in Sudan for 10 dollars.

“It brought out everything I had been through as a child,” he said over coffee at a Jerusalem hotel this week. “I almost lost it. I did not sleep for three days. My choice was to live in denial or come out of the closet. I realised I had to come out and tell the world that that newspaper was true because I myself was a slave as a child.”