World news

Australian churches back Israel boycott

By Dan Goldberg, July 29, 2010

relations between Australia's Jewish and Christian communities have been rocked by a controversial resolution that urges churches to boycott Israeli goods from the West Bank.

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) - the nation's top-level ecumenical body - passed the resolution during its seventh triennial forum, prompting a scathing response from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).


UN Goldstone probe head is 'biased'

By Toby Axelrod, July 29, 2010

German judge Christian Tomuschat is facing increased pressure to step down as head of the UN panel charged with reviewing the implementation of the Goldstone report's demands.

Critics say Mr Tomuschat has already likened Israel's self-defence actions to "state terrorism", and thus cannot provide an unbiased assessment of whether Israel and Hamas have properly investigated and then tried those alleged to have committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead.


American rabbis call for gay acceptance

By Rebecca Schischa, July 29, 2010

A group of prominent American rabbis have called for more acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Orthodox community.

The "statement of principles", signed by over 80 community leaders, affirms the rights of Jews of all sexual orientations to "be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community... and treated under the same halachic framework as any other member of the synagogue they join".


Swastika no longer viewed as Nazi symbol

By Jennifer Lipman, July 28, 2010

An American organisation which monitors antisemitism has said that the Nazi swastika will no longer automatically be considered a hate symbol.

The Anti-Defamation League said the swastika, until now inextricably linked with the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews, has for some people “lost its meaning as the primary symbol of Nazism and instead become a more generalised symbol of hate.”

The ADL released its annual audit of antisemitic incidents last week and said that numbers had fallen from 1,352 in 2008 to 1,211 the following year.


Hungarian government sued over Nazi art theft

By Jennifer Lipman, July 28, 2010

The family of a Jewish banker whose art collection, valued at more than £60 million, was allegedly looted by the Nazis during the Holocaust has filed a lawsuit against the Hungarian government.

The heirs of Baron Mor Lipot Herzog are demanding the return of more than 40 valuable paintings and sculptures by artists including Monet and Velasquez.

After it was stolen the collection came into the possession of the Hungarian government and much of it is now on display in the country’s art galleries.


Russian 'spy' is nice Jewish girl

By Jennifer Lipman, July 28, 2010

A Latvian-born American beautician arrested for trying to smuggle night-vision equipment to Russia is actually just “a nice Jewish girl”, according to her lawyer.

Anna Fermanova, 24, was stopped by police in March after they found two rifles and other restricted items allegedly concealed in a pair of Ugg boots as she boarded a Moscow-bound flight.

She claimed they were for her Russian husband to use when he went hunting. Her unusual luggage was confiscated but she was allowed to travel to Moscow, where she stayed teaching English for four months.


Suspected Nazi indicted for Belzec murders

By Jennifer Lipman, July 28, 2010

A man named as the third most-wanted Nazi suspect has been charged with participating in the murder of 430,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

Samuel Kunz, 90, who is believed to have spent 18 months as a guard at the Belzec death camp in Poland, has been indicted in Germany.

He is also suspected of murder over "personal excesses" for allegedly shooting ten Jews in two separate incidents.

Mr Kunz, number three on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of wanted Nazis, has not faced trial before.


Facebook page promoted 'Auschwitz spa'

By Jennifer Lipman, July 28, 2010

A Facebook page advertising the “Auschwitz Spa” as a “slimming” place has been removed following complaints by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

The page, created by French-speaking users of the social networking site, encouraged people to “come visit our new spa centre at Auschwitz”, the death camp where the Nazis murdered more than 1.3 million people.

The creators had even added a heart icon at the end of the title.


Netanyahu meets King Abdullah in Jordan

By Jennifer Lipman, July 27, 2010

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has held “constructive discussions” on the Middle East peace process with Jordan's King Abdullah II.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said that the previously unannounced talks in Amman “focused on the need to advance peace, security and prosperity in the region."


Israel: no Romania crash survivors

By Jennifer Lipman, July 27, 2010

Six Israelis and one Romanian on board a military helicopter have been confirmed as dead after the aircraft crashed into a mountain on Monday night.

An Israeli defence ministry statement said: "Search and rescue teams have found no survivors.

"Defence Minister Gabriel Oprea expresses his deep regret over the death of the seven soldiers."