World news

Spain drops Israeli war crimes probe

By Jessica Elgot, June 30, 2009

The National Court in Spain has dropped a war crimes investigation into an air attack by the Israel Defence Forces on a Hamas target in Gaza in July 2002.

Saleh Shehadeh, a leading militant of Hamas was killed when the Israeli Air Force bombed his Gaza home in an explosion which killed 14 other people, mostly women and children.

Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu argued the bombing was a crime against humanity and the case had caused some diplomatic tension between Spain and Israel.


Michael Jackson and the Shabbat dinners

By Tom Tugend , June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson’s life was full of contradictions and his relationship to Jews and the Jewish community was no exception.

This was the man who asked to be allowed to visit the Museum of Tolerance and its Holocaust exhibit one week before its Los Angeles opening in February 1993. Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the museum, took Jackson on a two-hour tour ending with the vivid exhibit on the Final Solution.

“When he left, Michael was crying, and he wrote me afterwards that he cried for weeks,” Rabbi Hier recalled.


Madoff wife 'betrayed and confused' by husband

By Jessica Elgot, June 29, 2009

The wife of convicted fraudster Bernard Madoff's says she feels "betrayed and confused" by the actions of her husband.

Ruth Madoff has said, in her first public statement: "I am breaking my silence now, because my reluctance to speak has been interpreted as indifference or lack of sympathy for the victims of my husband Bernie’s crime, which is exactly the opposite of the truth.


Holocaust hero lawyer struck off

By Miriam Shaviv, June 29, 2009

A lawyer who won reparations for Holocaust survivors in the 1990s was disbarred in New Jersey after he swindled some of the very survivors he helped.

The New Jersey Supreme Court found that Edward Fagan had taken $350,000 from the accounts of survivors Gizela Weisshaus, Estelle Sapir and others without their permission to pay his bills. The court also reportedly froze his assets.

Fagan also was disbarred last year in New York on an unrelated case.


Madoff gets 150 years for investment scam

By Jessica Elgot, June 29, 2009

Fraudster Bernie Madoff has been sentenced to 150 years in prison by a court in New York, the maximum the judge could impose.

Several hundred spectators arrived at federal court in New York to witness 71-year-old Madoff’s sentencing for a multi-billion dollar fraud scheme.

Madoff’s legal team had previously requested a 12-year sentence.
He pleaded guilty in March to a stream of offences including fraud, money laundering and perjury which amounted to almost $50 billion of investment fraud.


Michael Jackson's children may be Jewish

By Jessica Elgot, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson's two elder children could be returned to the custody of their Jewish mother, Debbie Rowe.

The children are Prince Michael I, who is 12, and Paris Michael Katherine, 11, who — according to halacha — would also be considered Jewish.

Jackson’s youngest child, Prince Michael II, had a surrogate mother , whose identity is not known.

When Rowe's Jewish identity first came to light, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a close friend of Jackson, expressed his astonishment.


Sharansky to head Jewish agency

June 26, 2009

The former Soviet Prisoner of Zion, Natan Sharansky, has been elected chairman of the Jewish Agency. The vote, on Thursday evening, was unanimous despite initial concerns by American delegates.

Mr Sharansky, born in 1948 in the Ukraine, became the symbol of the movement to free Soviet Jewry, spending years in Soviet prison in isolation and forced labour. In 1986, after international pressure, he was freed and came to Israel.


Britney Spears to star in Holocaust film

By Marcus Dysch, June 25, 2009

Of all the women you might pick to star in a sensitive film about the Holocaust, Britney Spears is unlikely to top the list. But the controversial singer, whose private life is frequently all over the tabloids, is rumoured to have been offered the leading role in a new Holocaust film.

Reports in the US suggest she will appear in The Yellow Star of Sophia and Eton, which may start filming in North America later this year.

Britney’s character, Sophia, builds a time machine and travels back to the Second World War, where she meets Eton, a Jewish prisoner of a death camp.


Surrogate baby joy for Sarah Jessica Parker

By Jan Shure, June 24, 2009

Sarah Jessica Parker, aka Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, and her actor husband Matthew Broderick have twin daughters via a surrogate mother, the couple’s publicists have announced.

Parker, 44, and Broderick, 47, who already have a six-year-old son, James Wilkie, have named their daughters Marion Loretta Elwell and Tabitha Hodge. The babies were born on Monday in Ohio, home state of the surrogate mother.

"The babies are doing beautifully and the entire family is over the moon," the couple said in a statement.


PA starts site in Ivrit

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 18, 2009

WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, launched a Hebrew website this week, in order to “present Israelis with another view of what is happening on the other side.”

WAFA is based in the PA offices in Ramallah but Faiz Abbas, an Israeli who resigned from Yediot in 2006, edits the website from his home in the Galilee.

Ma’an, the independent Palestinian news agency, set up a Hebrew website in 2005 but failed to attract many readers. Editor Abbas believes that his new website will be more successful.