World news

Jews cost me UN job, says Egyptian minister

By Ben Lynfield, September 24, 2009

Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni has blamed the Jews for his defeat in his bid to become head of UNESCO, the UN’s agency for culture and education, this week.

A Western conspiracy “cooked up in New York” was at fault, he said.

“European countries and the world’s Jews” wanted him to lose.

Mr Hosni was considered a leading opponent of “normalisation” of relations with Israel and last year threatened to personally burn any Israeli books found in Egyptian libraries.


New seal for kosher food that is 'ethical'

By Paul Berger, September 24, 2009

When US immigration officers raided Agriprocessors, America’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant, last year, the Jewish community was shocked and ashamed. Dozens of illegal immigrants were arrested, many alleging sexual harassment, unpaid wages and forced overtime.


Ukrainian pilgrims riot on Rosh Hashanah

By Edward Doks, September 24, 2009

As 25,000 Bratslav Chassidim descended on the Ukrainian town of Uman last week to celebrate Rosh Hashanah at the grave of their rebbe, Rav Nachman, an unprecedented row broke out over the authorities’ demands for money.

The Rebbe Nachman Foundation complained to Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko that the Chassidim are being required to pay some $22,000 to the Uman water company to supply and purify water, $1,700 to sanitation inspectors, $3,200 for gas and $8,300 for rubbish collection services.


US: It was mistake to say we will block Goldstone

By Jessica Elgot, September 24, 2009

The White House has claimed reports that the Goldstone report would be blocked by the US from going to the International Criminal Court, were a mistake.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said an anonymous official "misspoke" when he told Jewish organisations that the US would not allow the report’s recommendations to go beyond the Human Rights Council.

Mr Vietor said the US policy towards the Goldstone report remained the same as was given in the statement by Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN.


Mass walkout during Ahmadinejad UN speech

By Jessica Elgot, September 24, 2009

British, American and French diplomats led a walkout at the United Nations general assembly during a virulently anti-Jewish and anti-Israel speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mr Ahmadinejad infuriated many delegates with claims of a 'Jewish conspiracy'.


Egypt's Farouk Hosni beaten to UN job

By Jessica Elgot, September 23, 2009

The Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, tipped to become head of Unesco, has been beaten to the post by former Bulgarian Foreign Minister Irina Bokova.

It took a committee five rounds of votes to decide that the new Director General of Unesco, the United Nations’ cultural arm, would be Ms Bokova.

Mr Hosni, who would have been the first Arab to hold the position, has been an outspoken critic of Israel and his campaign was dogged with allegations of antisemitism.


Obama meets Netanyahu and Abbas

By Jessica Elgot, September 23, 2009

President Barack Obama has told Israeli and Palestinian leaders that they must show the will to “break the deadlock that has trapped generations”.

Mr Obama met Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas separately in New York, before chairing a trilateral meeting.

The meeting was denounced by many politicians and commentators as nothing more than a photo opportunity, given that talks between US Special Envoy George Mitchell with Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas last week in Jerusalem and Ramallah failed to bring agreement.


Israel 'would consider Iran attack'

By Jessica Elgot, September 22, 2009

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister has said it would not rule out an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, despite alleged assurances to the contrary to Russia.

Danny Ayalon said: "I don't think that, with all due respect, the Russian President [Dmitry Medvedev] is authorised to speak for Israel and certainly we have not taken any option off the table."

Echoing Mr Ayalon's sentiments, IDF chief Lt Gen Gabi Ashkenazi stressed that Israel had "the right to defend itself and all options are on the table".


Leonard Cohen 'will still play Tel Aviv' after collapse

By Jessica Elgot, September 21, 2009
Leonard Cohen, who collapsed from suspected food poisoning, has left hospital to continue his tour in Spain.

The singer, 75, collapsed during a rendition of Bird on the Wire at a concert in Valencia and was rushed to hospital by ambulance.

He spent the night at the Hospital 9 de October but left hospital to continue his tour to Barcelona.

Mr Cohen is scheduled play a concert in Tel Aviv later this week, and his Israeli promoter has confirmed the show will go ahead.


Obama to meet Abbas and Netanyahu

By Jessica Elgot, September 21, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are set to meet US President Barack Obama separately in New York this week, with a trilateral meeting likely.

Mr Obama is expected to meet Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas individually before chairing a joint session.

If the meeting goes ahead, the three leaders are likely to meet at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, where Mr Obama is staying for the meeting of the UN general assembly.

Israeli commentators denounced the meeting as a "photo opportunity" and said it would be wholly symbolic.