World news

Yemenite move to US sparks Israeli ire

By Anshel Pfeffer and Marcus Dysch, June 4, 2009

The emigration of 113 Yemenite Jews to the United States over the next few weeks has opened up a rift between Zionist organisations and the Jewish American leadership.

The Zionist groups argue that the Americans should not be encouraging Jews to move anywhere other than Israel, while the Americans insist that Israel does not have a monopoly on resettling Jews.

The Yemenite group is headed for the anti-Zionist Satmar community in Monsey near New York. The Satmars, together with United Jewish Communities (UJC), are facilitating their emigration, together with the US State Department.


'Black day' feared as Hizbollah set to win

By Dwaine Howe, Beirut , June 4, 2009

Lebanon’s Jews were once clustered around the old town in the port city of Sidon, one hour south of Beirut. Carpentry was their staple livelihood and today the sounds of axles grinding wood still ring out in the mazy streets of the souk. But on entering the shops and talking to employees, it becomes clear there are no Jews left in Sidon.

Walls that once housed the city’s 9,000 Jews are plastered with posters of Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, occasionally accompanied by Yasir Arafat’s image, smiling down on him beatifically from above.


Barely a hint of protest from within his camp

By Nathan Guttman, Washington, June 4, 2009

President Obama’s change of tone toward the Middle East conflict and his administration’s overt pressure on the Netanyahu government has not affected Jewish-American support for the president.

Although some Jewish Democrats have raised concerns about putting too much pressure on Israel over settlements, most Jewish members of Congress support the president’s moves, as do most large Jewish organisations.


Last act of tribute to a teen war hero

By Keren David, June 4, 2009

A 19-year-old British soldier lay dying on the ground, bleeding copiously from a wound in his neck caused by German shrapnel.

He gasped a few last words to his sergeant. “I am a Jew, please make sure I am buried as one.”

The sergeant later wrote to the mother of young Maxie Rothberg regretting that he was not able to comply with this request, but stressing that her son died a hero’s death.


Extremist Islamist group is re-launched

By Leon Symons, June 4, 2009

The extremist group Al Muhajiroun, which became infamous for describing the Twin Towers attackers as “magnificent”, has re-formed under its original name.

While Al Muhajiroun has never been banned in the UK, its leader, Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, was banned from Britain for his extremist preachings in 2005 while on a visit to Lebanon. As a result, the organisation changed its name several times.


UCU rep quits after pro-boycott vote

By Simon Rocker, June 4, 2009

An executive member of the University and College Union has quit after its annual congress in Bournemouth last week voted to hold a conference to discuss boycotting Israel.

It was the third year running that the question of an Israel boycott has been aired at the congress.


£50m: not bad for a study grant

June 4, 2009

The Hebrew University is to be the new home for a world-beating $130 million brain research centre, primarily funded by a UK-based Jewish philanthropist.

Lily Safra, whose late husband Edmond Safra was killed in an arson attack in Monaco 10 years ago, was in Israel this week announcing plans for the Edmond and Lily Safra Centre for Brain Sciences.

The foundation in her late husband’s name, which she runs, is providing $50 million for the centre and the rest will come from donors, other foundations and Israeli government grants.


Obama to visit Buchenwald

June 4, 2009

President Barack Obama will visit the Buchenwald concentration camp tomorrow (Friday, June 5), at the end of his mini-Middle East tour.

He is concluding his trip by meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dresden. Mrs Merkel and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel are scheduled to accompany Mr Obama to Buchenwald, one of the largest Nazi concentration camps where an estimated 56,000 prisoners were killed during the Shoah.


David Irving flees Norway

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2009

Convicted Holocaust denier David Irving had to leave Norway after police said they could not guarantee his safety.

Demonstrators from SOS Racism, a French anti-racism group, had attempted to block his entrance to an Oslo television station where he was due to give an interview on Tuesday last week. Irving had to use a back door to enter the building.


A woman rabbi (by any other name)

By Hilary Krieger, New York, June 3, 2009

Sara Hurwitz considers herself a rabbi.

She recently completed the same tests Orthodox men take to be ordained. Last month she underwent a conferral ceremony at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, one of the largest Orthodox synagogues insuburban New York, where she has been acting as Torah scholar, and adjudicating Jewish law, for several years.

But there is one problem: she wasn’t given the title rabbi. Instead, she is known as Maharat — a neologism which stands for Madrichah Hilchatit, Ruchanit v’Toranit, or Leader in Jewish Law, Spiritual Matters, and Torah.