World news

Analysis: Death of Iranian nuclear scientist will be costly

By Meir Javedanfar, January 14, 2010

The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Masoud Ali Mohammadi, who was killed on Tuesday when a motorcycle bomb was detonated outside his home, does not bode well for the Iranian government.

If his assassins were from foreign intelligence agencies or opposition groups, it would mean that the security of Iran’s nuclear programme has been seriously compromised — so much so that foreign operatives feel confident enough to eliminate their targets in broad daylight.


Pope visits Rome synagogue as Pius row rages

By Ruth Ellen Gruber, January 14, 2010

Pope Benedict’s XVI’s visit to Rome’s main synagogue on Sunday is intended to mark a major step forward in Catholic-Jewish relations.

But it is overshadowed by uproars over recent papal decisions that angered Jews.

“The pope apparently has chosen to balance his unquestionable commitment to the Catholic Church’s good relations with world Judaism with his commitment to recuperating the religious right wing of Catholicism,” said Lisa Palmieri Billig, the American Jewish Committee’s liaison to the Vatican.


Orthodox blasphemous YouTube outburst shocks community

By Dan Goldberg, January 14, 2010

Melbourne’s tightly-knit Orthodox community is reeling following the public ostracism of a group of dissident Lubavitchers accused of “a massive and reckless” act of blasphemy.

A video posted last week on YouTube shows the group celebrating a seudah, or religious feast, on the Fast of Tevet on December 27, when Orthodox Jews are supposed to mourn the day the First Temple was besieged.


Analysis: Is it wrong to pay UN compensation?

By David Hazony, January 14, 2010

Israel’s decision to pay $10 million in damages for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) buildings damaged in Operation Cast Lead has raised more than a few eyebrows. Is this an admission that Israel was at fault? Is it a precedent for further compensation? Or is it a one-off diplomatic act meant to quiet UN criticism of Israel?

To understand what is at stake, a few words about UNRWA are in order.


New rocket defence system action-ready

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 14, 2010

A successful test of Israel’s newest missile defence system, the last before its deployment, has caused a stir among the country’s enemies.

Israel last week completed a two-day series of tests to prove the operational capability of all the elements of the Iron Dome system before they are handed over to the IDF for deployment. The tests, which took place in the Negev, used live missiles of the types used by Hamas and Hizbollah, up to a range of 70km.

Iron Dome also proved capable of intercepting a salvo of missiles launched in one go.


Analysis: As Hamas loses control, the risk for Israel grows

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 14, 2010

AT Around 11pm on Monday, a large explosion was heard near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Reports began to stream in from civilians on both sides of Israeli Air Force strikes, dead Hamas fighters, IDF units concentrated near the border and forces on the move. For a few minutes, it seemed as if a year after Operation Cast Lead, another Israeli invasion of Gaza was under way.


Israeli and Jewish aid to Haiti earthquake

By Jessica Elgot, January 14, 2010

Israeli and Jewish aid organisations have flown to Port-au-Prince to deal with the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake which may have killed up to 100,000 people.

El Al has sent two planes, one cargo and another for passengers, and an IDF delegation is due to arrive in the Carribean country today with experts in engineering, medicine and rescue tactics.

IsraAID have also dispatched a 12-man search-and-rescue team to Haiti.


PA claims the Dead Sea Scrolls

By Ron Csillag, January 14, 2010


Weirdly, the sideshow was almost as compelling as the main event.

For six months, ending in January, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto hosted the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ancient parchments recovered from the caves of Qumran beginning in 1947. The Scrolls comprise the earliest known examples of Jewish biblical writings and offer a tantalising glimpse of life during the Second Temple period.

None of that stopped local Palestinians from staging noisy demonstrations at the museum, demanding that Canada close the show.


Tweet this one: the rabbi’s on Facebook

By Sue Fishkoff, January 14, 2010

Rabbi Jonathan Blake of Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York, videotapes his thoughts on the Torah portion and uploads it to his Facebook page every Wednesday. When members show up for Shabbat morning discussions, they are prepared for a lively give-and-take.

Congregation Ner Tamid in Henderson, Nevada, posts live webcasts of bar and batmitzvah services for anyone who cannot attend in person.


Auschwitz plea for UK donation

By Jessica Elgot, January 13, 2010

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation has called on Gordon Brown to fulfill his promise to donate some of the £110m needed to save the former concentration camp from decay and ruin.

The camp has been built on marshland between two rivers and damp is seeping into the barracks, which are rotting and splintering.

Restoration experts have warned that the camp has less than two years before some parts are beyond repair.

In early December, the infamous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign was stolen by vandals, highlighting the vulnerability of the site.