World news

Reform proposes merger

December 23, 2008

The leader of the US Reform movement, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, proposed that some of his movement’s synagogues could pool resources and merge with Conservative shuls to save costs in the face of the global economic crisis.

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Polish president at shul

December 23, 2008

Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski marked the start of Chanucah by visiting Warsaw’s main synagogue, the first time a head of state had attended a religious service at a synagogue in the Eastern European country.

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Kantor wins new EJC term

December 23, 2008

Russian-born businessman Moshe Kantor won a second four-year term as head of the European Jewish Congress. He said that he would work to stop the upcoming Durban II conference from becoming an anti-Israel forum.

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Italian MP slams Pius XII

December 23, 2008

The speaker of the Italian parliament, Gianfranco Fini — who himself began his career in a neo-fascist party — criticised the wartime pope Pius XII for not doing enough to oppose Mussolini’s antisemitic race laws, introduced in 1938.

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Hungary’s far-right party is disbanded

By Thomas Land, December 23, 2008

A Budapest court has disbanded the right-wing Magyar Garda (Hungarian Guard) association, widely seen as the 21st-century heir of the Nazi-era Arrow Cross.

The verdict issued at the end of the five-day proceedings effectively disqualified the association from organising public demonstrations due to concerns over its right-wing ideology and threatening behaviour, which principally targeted Jews and Gypsies.

The Alliance of Hungarian Jewish Religious Communities (Mazsihisz)welcomed the ruling and described the trial as a successful test of Hungarian democracy.

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Germany agrees to try Demjanjuk

By Toby Axelrod, December 18, 2008

Germany’s Federal Supreme Court has given its approval for a Munich court to try accused Nazi war criminal John (Ivan) Demjanjuk.

Following last week’s decision, the 88-year-old man, who has spent most of the post-war period as a US citizen, may now be extradited to Germany, despite the protests of family members who claim he is too frail.

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Hostility on the rise in Yemen after murder

December 18, 2008

Islamist extremists in Yemen are continuing to intimidate a small Jewish community following the murder of a Jewish teacher, according to a local rabbi. Moshe Yaish Nahari, who taught at the yeshivah in the village of Raydah, was shot dead last Thursday by a suspected extremist.
Rabbi Yahia Yaish bin Yahia told reporters: “Raydah is no longer like the old days. Raydah today is full of monsters.”

Although a man has been arrested on suspicion of the murder, Rabbi bin Yahia said that the authorities had long ignored complaints from the community about rising hostility.

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Hate wave feared in recession-hit Ukraine

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 18, 2008

A major wave of antisemitism is feared in Russia and Ukraine in 2009 as their economies begin to bear the full brunt of the global financial crisis.

The warning comes from senior officials in local Jewish organisations and from the Israeli government.

One veteran emissary from a major Jewish body was especially worried.

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No time limit for art claims

By Leon Symons, December 18, 2008

Germany has pledged there will be no time limit for descendants of Nazi victims to reclaim looted art.

Federal Commissioner for Culture, Bernd Neumann, told a two-day conference in Berlin that the government had rejected calls from some museums to impose deadlines.

The conference, Taking Responsibility, was held to mark the 10th anniversary of the Washington Declaration, in which 44 countries agreed to identify and return Nazi-looted art.

Assessing how much progress had been made, Mr Neumann admitted that German museums and collections had been dragging their heels.

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Netherlands vows to boycott Durban II

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 18, 2008

The Netherlands is the latest country threatening to boycott the United Nations ‘Durban II’ conference against racism.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said the conference was “a propaganda circus by countries attempting to carry out antisemitic agitation against Israel”.

He warned that his government would not participate if the resolution of the preparatory committee was not changed.

Netherlands is one of several EU members to voice concerns over the conference, due to take place in Geneva in April.

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