World news

‘Fraud’ case man’s £2.6m barmitzvah

By Leon Symons, October 10, 2008

A businessman wanted on fraud charges in America has been allowed to attend his son's barmitzvah in Israel after rabbis pledged £2m in sureties.

Zev Saltsman, who lives in Hendon, North-West London, was arrested in London a year ago after he was named as one of six men accused by US federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.

He was alleged to have made $55m (£31.5m) in fraudulent profits through private share sales. He has not admitted the allegations in the USA.


Museums block change in law on looted art

By Patrick Steel, October 10, 2008

The co-chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe has condemned a decision by the UK's national museum directors to oppose legislation allowing the return of objects stolen from Jews in the Nazi-era.
Art-restitution expert Anne Webber said: "This represents a complete volte-face by the National Museum Directors Conference (NMDC), whose leading members only a year ago publicly affirmed the need for this legislation. They must not be allowed to prevail."


Top Israeli officals deny they endorsed Obama

By Yaakov Katz and Nathan Guttman, October 7, 2008

Two former leading Israeli security officials say they were duped into taking part in a video ad supporting United States Senator Barack Obama's campaign for president that has been widely circulated on the internet.

Uzi Dayan, a former deputy chief of staff of the IDF and former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy were among eight Israeli ex-security officials interviewed for the short film released by the Jewish Council for Education and Research.


German Jews get E2m boost

By Toby Axelrod, October 3, 2008

Germany's growing Jewish community is to get more federal funds. A German Interior Ministry spokesperson announced that the annual funds allotted to the Central Council of Jews in Germany would be raised by about €2 million (£1.6m), to total about €5 million (£3.9m).

The council represents some 105,000 Jews who are registered members of congregations. It is estimated that 100,000 Jews remain unaffiliated.

Like Germany's churches, the Jewish community receives federal "religion tax" funds collected on its behalf from congregation members.


Lithuania drops Yad Vashem case

By Dana Gloger, October 3, 2008

A prosecution against the former chairman of Israel's Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem has been dropped by Lithuanian authorities.

The JC reported in June that historian Yitzchak Arad was being investigated for his activities as part of a pro-Soviet partisan resistance group during the Holocaust.

Earlier this month, Lithuanian authorities began looking into several Jewish former partisans, with a possible view to prosecuting them for alleged war crimes. Dr Arad said at the time that he was "upset and disappointed" by the proceedings.


Police ban Paris rally by anti-Israel groups

By Shirli Sitbon, October 3, 2008

The first pro-Palestinian "Jerusalem Day" to be held in Paris has been banned by police, following alerts on possible altercations and incitement.

Several activist groups led by the Zahra Centre had planned a rally next to the Eiffel Tower last Saturday to protest against "Zionism and Imperialism".

Jerusalem Day, or Al-Quds Day, is an annual protest first launched by the Islamic leadership in Iran.


World Jewry ‘rises to 13.3m’

October 3, 2008

The world's Jewish population grew by 70,000 in the last year to reach a total of 13.3 million people, according to new statistics released by the Jewish Agency.

The largest Jewish population was in Israel, with 5,500,000 people, with the United States coming second with 5,300,000. However, the research showed that in the US, out of this number almost 1.5 million people live in mixed households.

France, Canada, Britain, Russia, Argentina, Germany, Australia, and Brazil make up the rest of the top 10 Jewish concentrations worldwide.


Concerns over kosher meat plant reach Congress

By Nathan Guttman, October 3, 2008

The uproar over working conditions in America's largest kosher meat-processing plant reached Congress last week, as a dozen Jewish lawmakers sent a letter to the owners of Agriprocessors deploring the company's practices.

"The treatment of its workers and the animals raise serious questions about the company's compliance with US law and the highest standards of Jewish law and tradition concerning kashrut," the letter read.


Obituary: Paul Newman

By Jan Shure and Tom Tugend, October 3, 2008

Hollywood superstar, director, racing-driver, liberal activist and philanthropist, Paul Newman first made his mark on the worldwide Jewish community with his role as a Haganah leader Ari Ben Canaan in Exodus, the 1960 epic film of Israel's establishment.

Director Otto Preminger reportedly picked the startlingly handsome, blue-eyed Newman because he wanted an actor of Jewish background who did not "look Jewish".


Israel concerned over Austrian far-right vote

By Daniella Peled, October 3, 2008

Israel has expressed "deep concern" over the massive success of the Austrian far-right in this week's elections.

The combined success of the far-right parties amounted to almost a third of all votes cast in the early elections, called after Austria's coalition collapsed in June. They may now be called upon to help form a new government.