World news

Soldier killed in Afghanistan

By Marcus Dysch, June 18, 2009

A Jewish soldier has been killed in Afghanistan trying to protect his
platoon from a roadside bomb.

Lieutenant Paul Mervis of 2nd Battalion The Rifles died in an explosion last Friday during a foot patrol in northern Helmand province.
In Afghanistan, he carried a 1936 issue Soldier’s Siddur which had previously belonged to Sergeant Dave Newman, who fought in the Battle of El Alamein in World War II.

Paying tribute to the 27-year-old, his family, members of Wimbledon Reform Synagogue, said he was “generous and thoughtful, with an infectious sense of fun”.


Protest as charity chief is honoured

By Marcus Dysch, June 18, 2009

A leading pro-Israel charity has complained to the Cabinet Office over the award of an OBE to the former chief executive of its one-time parent charity.

The award to Simon Winters for services to the voluntary sector was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List on Saturday. He was among around a dozen members of the Jewish community to be recognised.
Mr Winters, who parted company with JNF UK last summer after the arrival of the new chairman Samuel Hayek, was criticised by a High Court judge after a failed legal action against lawyers Mishcon de Reya.


Birthright trip in swine flu alert

June 17, 2009

At least a dozen participants on an Israel Birthright trip have tested positive for swine flu after contracting the virus whilst touring in Israel. It’s also been reported that 18 IDF soldiers have also been infected.

Several dozen soldiers were escorting the Taglit –Birthright youngsters, who are all over eighteen, during the trip.

It’s believed the outbreak began to spread last week, with Haaretz reporting that the victims were quarantined.


Jews control Obama, says Shoah museum suspect

June 14, 2009

Tha man said to be behind the Holocaust Museum shootings left a note was in his car claiming that US President Barack Obama does what his "Jew owners tell him to do."

A notebook was found in the car of James von Brunn, the 88-year-old white supremacist who has been charged with murdering security guard Stephen Johns Wednesday at the Washington museum, according to court papers.


Car park row protesters out in force

June 12, 2009

By Sasha Brenner

Around 800 people gathered in Jerusalem’s Kikar Safra on Saturday afternoon to protest what they called Mayor Nir Barkat's "capitulation" to the city's Charedi community over the Shabbat operation of a municipal car park.

On Friday, he agreed to a police request from to close it for two Saturdays in a row. The plan was to use that time to find another site to be used by visitors to the Old City.


The end of gay shuls in America?

By Jeremy Gillick, New York, June 11, 2009

The leading gay congregation in New York has published a formal edition of its siddur, which is sensitive to the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews.

B’chol L’vavcha (With your whole heart), published by Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, or CBST, includes prayers for coming out and for celebrating transgender experience; an Aids section; and an extensive “pride” section, including a specially formulated Al Hanisim prayer.


Galilee villages battle to exclude non-Zionists

June 11, 2009

Two Israeli villages are trying to amend their bylaws in order to allow residence to Zionists only.

The move is widely interpreted as an attempt to stop local Arabs from joining the communities.

In recent months, the far-right political party Yisrael Beiteinu has provoked controversy by proposing a so-called “Citizenship law” that would require all citizens to swear allegiance to the state.


IDF in 'astonishing' co-operation with PA

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 11, 2009

While the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians is at a standstill, the security ties between the IDF and the armed forces of the Palestinian Authority have never been closer.

The steep decline in organised terror attacks originating in the West Bank over the past four years has been attributed mainly to more forceful operations by the IDF and successful penetration into the Palestinian organisations by the General Security Service. The IDF now admits it has another partner.


Students 'quarantined' before exam

By James Martin, June 11, 2009

Jewish pupils in Dublin spent last Shabbat in “quarantine” in order to take an English exam, scheduled for Saturday, the next day.

The eight Sabbath-observant teenagers, who stayed with Orthodox families in Rathgar, south Dublin, had to remain indoors from 9am on Saturday morning, when the exam started for the rest of the country, until 24 hours later when they were able to take the exam.
The decision to quarantine them followed discussions between Stratford College, Ireland’s only Jewish secondary school, and the Irish State Examination Commission.


Spielberg reels in UK man to run Holocaust archive

By Simon Rocker, June 11, 2009

The founding director of Britain’s first Holocaust museum, Stephen Smith, is leaving the country to head a major archive of survivor testimonies established by film-maker Steven Spielberg.

Dr Smith, who opened the Holocaust Centre in Laxton, Nottinghamshire, in 1995 with his brother James, is to be the new executive director of the Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, based at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.