World news

Paris welcomes Assad — but Syrian leader snubs Olmert

By Shirli Sitbon, July 18, 2008

Syrian leader Bashar Assad was a controversial guest of honour at France’s Bastille Day celebrations — and snubbed his fellow guest, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr Assad was among more than 40 heads of state at Sunday’s launch of the Union for the Mediterranean, a French initiative to bring together the 27 states of the EU with the Balkans and their Arab neighbours.


Greek graves face destruction

By Solette Eliezer, July 18, 2008

Greek Jews have protested that a new subway under construction in Thessaloniki risks desecrating a historic Jewish graveyard.

The cemetery of Thessaloniki, the largest in Europe, was destroyed in 1943 by the Nazis, and the land confiscated by the Greek government  in 1944. The tombstones were either looted or sold, and some were used in repairs on the Cathedral of St Demetrius. Aristotle University, which acquired the land from the Greek state after the war, built its premises upon the cemetery.


Fears over Papal visit to Sydney

By Dan Goldberg, July 18, 2008

Five Australian Jews have been invited to meet Pope Benedict XVI during his first visit to Sydney amid continuing concerns about a planned re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross.

They are among 40 interfaith leaders — including Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others — who will meet the Pope at St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday.

Pope Benedict is in Sydney for World Youth Day, a six-day celebration with  an estimated 500,000 people expected at the closing papal mass on July 20.


Siberian editor charged

July 18, 2008

The editor of a Siberian newspaper has been charged with extremism after running a series of antisemitic articles. Alexander Yaremenko had been criticised by officials in the town of Chita over material printed in his paper.


American murdered in Ukraine

July 18, 2008

A Jewish American businessman was murdered in his hotel room in Odessa, Ukraine. Asaf Yehudeev, 62, was killed during the night of July 9, in what initial investigations suggested was a robbery attempt.


Convert row: US confused

July 18, 2008

The United Jewish Communities in America has asked Israeli premier Ehud Olmert to intervene in a conversion row. The group appealed after Israel’s higher rabbinical court suggested up to 15,000 conversions might be revoked.


Blair snubs the Gaza Strip

July 18, 2008

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair cancelled a visit to the Gaza Strip this week after the Israeli General Security Service warned that terror organisations were planning to attack his convoy.

Mr Blair was planning to visit Gaza on Tuesday to meet local businessmen, UNRWA officials and representatives of NGOs in the area. A Hamas spokesman had announced the visit and said that the movement would ensure the security arrangements.


Racist who fled hate trial caught in America

By Leon Symons, July 18, 2008

A racist who fled the country after being convicted of five charges of publishing racially inflammatory material has been apprehended in America.

Stephen Whittle, 41, of Preston, Lancs, had written five offensive articles under the pen-name Luke O’Farrell, which were published on the internet.


Survivors blast Germany for ‘worthless’ compensation

By Craig Silver, July 18, 2008

Berlin gives two former slave labourers just £1,600 after more than 60 years

Two Holocaust survivors have attacked the German government for “worthless” offers of £1,600 in compensation payments.

Helena Aronson and Krulik Wilder survived two Polish ghettos where they worked as slave labourers in filthy factories for up to 12 hours a day.

Mr Wilder, who now lives in Radlett, Herts, was deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp in December 1944. He was liberated by the Russians from Theresienstadt in May 1945.


Obama to visit Israel and PA

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 18, 2008

US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is scheduled to receive a red-carpet reception when he arrives in Israel and the Palestinian Authority next week on a whirlwind visit.

The exact date of Mr Obama’s visit is being kept a secret for security considerations also related to his planned visit to Afghanistan and Iraq.