World news

Why it could be a record year for Jews in the US Congress

June 27, 2008


This year could bring a record number of Jews into the US Senate and House of Representatives — and some could come from surprising quarters.

Come November 2008, Alaska’s tiny Jewish community — estimates run from 3,000 to 5,000, with most living in the state’s largest city of Anchorage — might be sending its second-ever representative to Capitol Hill. A leading Democratic contender, Ethan Berkowitz is lagging not far behind the main Republican challenger.


Palestinians push Unicef to boycott Leviev

By Shelly Paz, June 27, 2008

A Palestinian human-rights organisation has convinced Unicef to reject further financial support from the billionaire diamonds entrepreneur Lev Leviev, whose construction company builds in Israeli settlements.

New York-based Adalah has been pressing for a consumer boycott against the Russian-born Israeli’s jewellery shops since the Denya-Sibos construction company, controlled by his Africa-Israel group, began building houses in three areas of the West Bank.


Brutal Paris attack raises new fears for community’s safety

By Shirli Sitbon, June 27, 2008

As the latest young Jewish victim of a violent attack in France woke up from his coma on Monday, debate was reignited on the safety and future of the county’s Jewish community.

Rudy Haddad, 17, was wearing a kippah when he was beaten by between 15 and 30 teenagers of black African origin wielding metal bars. The incident, which occurred on Shabbat afternoon, was initially described by French authorities as antisemitic. 

The attack took place in Paris’s multi-ethnic 19th district, which has large Jewish, Arab and black populations.


‘Nazi’, 95, says he is innocent

June 20, 2008

A suspected Nazi war criminal tracked down by The Sun newspaper at the Euro 2008 games in Austria has denied wrongdoing. Milivoj Asner, 95, allegedly transported hundreds to their deaths in war-time Croatia, but has successfully maintained that he is too ill to be extradited.


US church text full of ‘bias’

June 20, 2008

More than a dozen US Jewish bodies have complained about a Presbyterian church statement on anti-Jewish bias and the Middle East conflict. The groups, including the American Jewish Committee, complained that the church statement was “infused” with prejudice.


JDC to cut aid and staff

June 20, 2008

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is to reduce its number of programmes and cut 60 jobs in offices in the US and abroad due to financial pressures. The weak dollar has left the aid organisation with a budget shortfall of some $60 million (£30m).


Democrats to benefit from US lobby’s cash

June 20, 2008

Two Congressmen and five Congressional hopefuls will be receiving campaign money from J Street, the new dovish Jewish-American lobby.

The lobby announced its first round of political endorsements on Monday and the recipients will be six Democrats and one Republican. J Street is an organisation aiming to support candidates who will push for more aggressive American engagement in the Israeli-Arab peace process, oppose the Iraq war, and encourage diplomatic talks with Iran and Syria.


Singles ‘key to future of US Judaism’

June 20, 2008

A new study has identified the growing number of young singles as the “swing vote” of American Jewry, writes Shmuel Rosner.

The research found that in 1990, just 33 per cent of non-Orthodox Jews aged 25-39 were single. By 2000-01, the number had grown to 50 per cent.

Steven Cohen, a sociologist studying American Jewry, and Ari Kelman, an assistant professor of American studies at the University of California at Davis, called this group of Jewish singles the new “swing vote” of American Judaism.


Lauder urges Polish law

By Miriam Shaviv, June 20, 2008

Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, has called on Poland to restore properties seized during the Second World War and the Communist era to their rightful owners.

“To deny the return of stolen property, or adequate compensation, violates basic democratic principles,” he wrote in the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita this week. “Such denial to a Holocaust victim is a double humiliation.”


The view from the Gaza strip

By Ben Lynfield, June 20, 2008

“Everyone is waiting for the ceasefire because our lives are terrible.”

With those words, Raed al-Atamneh, a taxi-driver in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, summed up the mood in advance of the Egyptian-brokered truce.

“People expect goods to come into Gaza now. I hope this agreement will stop the shooting, stop the dying. People want to feel safe and have a good life, but the power is in Israeli hands, not Palestinian hands,” Mr al-Atamneh added.