World news

The great USA kashrut debate

By Sue Fishkoff, July 23, 2009

An Iowa bankruptcy court has approved the sale of what was once the largest kosher meat-packing plant in America, bringing to a close a long-running scandal which has forever changed America’s kosher food industry.

On the one hand, the damage left behind in the small town of Postville, Iowa, is irreparable. Hundreds of families, mostly Guatemalan and Mexican, were torn apart by the massive federal immigration raid on Agriprocessors in May 2008 — the largest in American history — and hundreds more left as the factory ceased production and declared bankruptcy.


Amnesty slams Saudi human rights record

By Jessica Elgot, July 22, 2009

Amnesty International has slammed the human rights record of Saudi Arabia in a new report, just days after it was revealed that Human Rights Watch had approached Saudi leaders for donations.

The report by the Wall Street Journal alleged that the director of HRW, Sarah Leah Whitson, had sought money from senior Saudis, in part by highlighting her organisation’s condemnation of Israel.


Anne Frank's barracks destroyed by fire

By Jessica Elgot, July 20, 2009

Barracks at a Dutch work camp where Anne Frank was held before being taken to Auschwitz have been destroyed by a “suspicious” fire

The cause of the fire at the wooden barracks at the Westerbork camp in Holland has not been determined.

Anne Frank was detained in barrack 57 at the camp in 1944, but the buildings were sold in 1957 and were used to store farm equipment before the fire.

Gillian Walnes the executive director of the Anne Frank Trust UK, said:


Mumbai terrorist suprise guilty plea

By Jessica Elgot, July 20, 2009

The surviving terrorist gunman of the Mumbai attacks, where a Chabad rabbi and his wife were among the murdered, has made a surprise confession at his trial.

Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 21, shocked the court, including his own defence lawyer, when he changed from his original ‘not guilty’, telling them he wanted to confess.

The November attacks, which lasted three days, killed 166 people and specifically targeted the Jewish centres are said to have been financed by an Islamist Pakistani group.


Al-Jazeera West Bank ban lifted

By Jessica Elgot, July 20, 2009

Arabic TV station Al Jazeera is back on air in the West Bank after a ban was lifted by the Palestinian Authority, who will now pursue legal action against the channel.

The PA had accused the broadcaster of spreading lies and having a negative bias, after Farouk Kaddoumi, a founding member of Fatah, alleged on an Al-Jazeera politics programme that Palestinian premier Mahmoud Abbas had been involved in an Israeli plot to kill Yasir Arafat in 2004.


Film festival rejects Loach's Israel boycott

By Jessica Elgot, July 17, 2009

An Australian film festival has said it will not bow to pressure from British filmmaker Ken Loach to boycott Israeli films and sponsors.

The chief executive of the Melbourne International Film Festival, Richard Moore, has rejected a threat by Mr Loach to withdraw his film Looking for Eric, starring Eric Cantona, unless the film festival boycotts Israel.
He said films had been chosen solely on artistic merit for next week's festval.


Paris JDL members arrested for attack

July 16, 2009

Four Jewish men, suspected of being members of the Paris branch of the Jewish Defence League, are in police custody, accused of vandalising a bookshop.

The JDL has links with the extreme-right Kach movement, founded in New York by Rabbi Meir Kahane in the 1970s.

It is outlawed by the European Union, Israel, Canada and the United States. It is also connected to offshoot Kahane Chai (Kahane Lives).


Is London to blame for New York measles?

By Jeremy Gillick, July 16, 2009

The New York Department of Health suspects that an outbreak of measles in the Chasidic community may have originated in London.

Twelve cases have been confirmed over the past two months, the majority of them in Williamsburg, home to around 70,000 Satmar Chasidim, and two in Borough Park, a Bobover enclave.

“We have not identified any source yet,” said Dr Jane Zucker, assistant commissioner for immunisation at New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “but in the past we have had measles imported from the UK and other European countries.


Retrial for Halimi murder gang

By Shirli Sitbon, July 16, 2009

Fourteen of the 25 gang members who were convicted last Friday of kidnapping and murdering 23-year-old Ilan Halimi in 2006 are going to be retried, because their sentences were deemed too lenient.

The ringleader, Youssouf Fofana, was sentenced to life imprisonment and his sentence will stand. But other sentences were just six months long, and some were suspended.

The woman who seduced Mr Halimi, leading him to the gang, was sentenced to nine years in jail and could be freed in two.

Two gang members were acquitted altogether.


Human Rights Watch seeks Saudi donors

By Jessica Elgot, July 16, 2009

The director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division is attempting to raise money from Saudi investors, a report has alleged.

The report by the Wall Street Journal alleges that the director, Sarah Leah Whitson, has been seeking money from senior Saudis, in part by highlighting the organisation’s condemnation of Israel.

Her targets have included a member of the Shura Council, which oversees the imposition in the country of strict Islamic law.