World news

Egyptian who threatened to burn Israeli books to get UN job

By Ben Lynfield, September 10, 2009

Egypt’s culture minister, Farouk Hosni, who last year said he would burn any Israeli books he found in the country’s libraries, is the favourite to win the UN’s top cultural post in an election that begins next week.

Surprisingly, Mr Hosni’s chances of becoming head of Unesco have been boosted by Israel, of all countries, despite being for years an object of his scorn.


Jane Fonda responds to Toronto Festival row

By Jessica Elgot, September 7, 2009

Actress Jane Fonda has hit back after a row errupted over her signature on a letter which criticised a celebration of Tel Aviv at the Toronto International film festival.

Writing on her blog, Ms Fonda denied she had any anti-Israeli sentiments, and that she was protesting that fact that a film festival was being used to promote a certain country.

More than 50 film directors, artists and writers, including Ken Loach, Naomi Klein, David Byrne and Danny Glover signed the letter which protests against the new "City to City" celebration at TIFF, which this year will focus on Tel Aviv.


Row over Toronto Film Festival boycott

By Jessica Elgot, September 4, 2009

More than 50 film directors, artists and writers, including Jane Fonda, Ken Loach, Naomi Klein, David Byrne and Danny Glover have signed a letter which protests against a celebration of Tel Aviv at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The festival, which is in its 34th year, is launching a “City to City” programme this year, which will focus on Tel Aviv and feature 10 Israeli films.

The artists say the spotlight on Tel Aviv would romanticise the country which they call an “apartheid state”, and claim the festival had fallen prey to the Israeli “propaganda machine”.


Man accused of Nazi murders faces US expulsion

September 4, 2009

The US has taken action to expel from America a Michigan resident accused of persecuting and killing Ukrainian Jews during World War II.

John (previously Iwan) Kalymon is charged with personally shooting Jews, killing at least one, as a member of the Nazi-sponsored Ukrainian Auxiliary Police (UAP).

Mr Kalymon is also charged with participating in activities where Jews were deported to gas chambers or slave labour camps.


Madonna's Israeli flag YouTube outrage

September 4, 2009
Madonna caused outrage on Youtube after videos of her wrapped in an Israeli flag at her Tel Aviv concerts were posted on the website.

At the finale of both of her concerts in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park this week Madonna draped herself in the Israeli flag leading hundreds of Palestinian supporters to voice their anger on YouTube.

Several of the posts included antisemitic comments and profane language directed at Israel or Madonna.


IDF band to play in Moscow

September 4, 2009

The Israeli army’s marching band will perform in Moscow’s Red Square this Saturday for the first time.

The Jerusalem Post reports that 45 IDF soldiers will join dozens of military orchestras from around the world at the annual Moscow Day celebration. The event , organised by the Kremlin , will take place in Red Square, the traditional parade ground of the Russian army.


Schools struggle to stay open in US

By Paul Berger, September 3, 2009

Ray Levi, head of the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School, has had to increase aid for struggling parents, freeze teachers’ pay, reduce benefits and cut support staff.

So it is perhaps a sign of how fragility has become a fact of life for American Jewish day schools that Mr Levi is upbeat. “Despite all the problems we face, I think there is a lot of promise for day schools in America,” he says.

Enrolment remains high and his primary school has strong communal support. But others are not so fortunate.


This shul may become a music hall

By Chloe Markowicz, September 3, 2009

A strictly Orthodox rabbi has started a campaign to stop part of a historic synagogue in Transylvania being turned into a concert hall. However, the owners of the Great Synagogue of Dej say that no such plans exist.

Rabbi Eliahu Caufman alleges that part of the women’s section in the shul, which was built in 1865, will be transformed by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.


Vilnius cemetery is saved

By Leon Symons, September 3, 2009

A long-running international row over the future of a 700-year-old cemetery in Lithuania has been settled.

The disused Snipiskes cemetery in Vilnius was found when developers began setting the foundations of an office block in 2007 and uncovered the remains of graves.

Protests were lodged by the London-based Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (CPJCE), the American and British ambassadors in Vilnius and the Board of Deputies, who demanded that building stop until the exact boundaries of the cemetery were determined.


French anti-Muslim backlash hurts Jews

By Shirli Sitbon, September 3, 2009

The backlash against Muslims in France demanding religious rights in the public sphere has also hit Jews, who feel that their own, similar requests are being treated increasingly negatively.

“Things have got worse since more and more Muslims started pushing demands, sometimes with political motives. Now we’re compared to assertive pushy militants and our own requests are denied outright,” said Marc Djebali, vice president of the Jewish community of Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris. “Now officials tell me: ‘we can’t accept this, this is a secular state’.”