World news

Pope sacks officials over Holocaust-denier

By Jessica Elgot, July 10, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has sacked two Vatican officials and abolished their department after they persuaded him to reverse the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying British bishop.

Bishop Richard Williamson has repeatedly and publicly denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers and has claimed that no more than 300,000 Jews perished in the Holocaust.

In January, Pope Benedict was persuaded to lift the excommunication of Bishop Williamson who was expelled from the Church by Pope John Paul II for internal Church reasons unrelated to the bishop’s Holocaust beliefs.

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Could the US send Syria a frum envoy?

By Hilary Krieger, Washington, July 9, 2009

The Obama administration is currently deciding who will become America’s next ambassador to Syria.

The diplomatic post is to be filled for the first time in four years, as US efforts to engage with Syria intensify.

The administration is hoping that, through persistent diplomacy, the US will be able to peel Syria out of the orbit of Iran, with whom it has a strategic alliance, and lead it toward a more positive relationship with the West.

This would include a peace treaty with Israel and the cutting of support for Hamas, Hizbollah and other Iranian-financed terror outfits.

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Our ‘future leaders’ set out their visions

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

What are young Jewish “leaders” and “thinkers” interested in?
If the 120 participants in the fourth annual Return On Investment (ROI) Summit last week in Israel are anything to go by, the answer seems to be: the same things as other starry-eyed idealists — student politics, human rights, multiculturalism and volunteering in the developed world. They also want to find other Jewish partners with whom to explore these interests.

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Oil boss plans Iran investment

By Shelly Paz, July 9, 2009

Dr Alexander Machkevitch, one of the world’s richest businessmen and president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, has a business plan — for Iran.

Once the current regime is replaced and sanctions are lifted, he wants to invest in the country’s oil industry, as Iran loses capital by not refining its own oil.

“I discussed the plan with a group of Iranian businessmen who are quite tired of the situation in the country but it will be possible only with political support,” Mr Machkevitch said. “I am very optimistic.”

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Religion summit turns ugly

By Shelly Paz, July 9, 2009

No one can accuse the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, of being insincere in his efforts to bring together believers of all faiths.

His nation of 16.7 million includes as many as 150 nationalities. Three thousand, two hundred mosques, churches, temples, synagogues and many other houses of worship are prominent in Astana, the country’s rapidly developing new capital.

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A political war is fought over Israel’s courts

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

After years of being a bastion of Israel’s liberal-left establishment, the Supreme Court appears to be moving to the right.

There is currently deadlock in the appointment of three new Supreme Court judges, with an ideological battle being waged between religious and right-wing representatives and the secular, mostly Ashekanzi left.
The Judicial Appointments Committee is chaired by the Justice Minister, and also includes three judges from the Supreme Court, three Knesset members and two representatives of the Israel Bar Association.

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Religious battle rages over IDF

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

A behind-the-scenes struggle is going on in the IDF over the role of the military Rabbinate and the increasing number of soldiers asking the IDF to accommodate their religious needs.

The IDF Chief Rabbi, Brigadier General Avihai Rontzki, has angered many senior officers by what they see as undue intrusion of the military rabbis into the internal affairs of the army’s units.

Rabbi Rontzki has told his rabbis that they are there “not only to distribute wine and challahs for Shabbat” but to “bring yiddishkeit and a fighting spirit to the soldiers in the field”.

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Turkish Jews reach out

By Sasha Brenner, July 9, 2009

The Jewish Turkish community is seeking to reach out to the Muslim population with a series of cultural and educational events.
The aim is to improve understanding of their community, particularly among young people.
“In the eyes of our society, Turkish Jews are the others of the other,” Lina Filiba, Vice President of the Jewish Community of Turkey said.
“We are shouting out that we’re Turks, but people keep seeing us as Israelis.”
The programme will launch this week with a concert featuring traditional Turkish music composed by Jews.

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Tired of Al Jazeera? I’m beaming kosher TV across the Middle East

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

Next week, for the first time, a Jewish news channel will begin broadcasting via satellite to the entire Middle East, trying to persuade the Arabs that a Jewish presence in their midst is not such a bad idea after all.

Unlike previous grandiose plans to launch a pro-Israel hasbarah channel to counter the influence of Al Jazeera, this project is much more humble, at least to start with.

Israeli businesswoman Galia Albin has just bought a controlling stake in the small Jewish Life TV (JLTV) channel, which is currently carried on American cable and digital services.

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Prince Hassan calls for EU-style MidEast union

By Bernard Josephs, July 9, 2009

An impassioned plea for Middle East nations to form an EU-style organisation to deal with human rights, the environment and the scarcity of water has been made in London by Jordan’s Prince Hassan.

Addressing an audience of diplomats and British supporters of Neve Shalom Wahat al-Salam — a village in central Israel where Jews and Arabs live together in equality — the Prince warned that time was running out for the region.

Economic and social cohesion were essential to the security concerns of Israel and the Arab world. “We are mutually dependent,” he said.

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