World news

Oy! You’re killing me. Laugh? I hardly started

August 27, 2009

Have you heard the one about the Jewish woman suing her daughter-in-law for telling too many mother-in-law jokes?

Comic Sunda Croonquist, who is a regular on the Hollywood comedy circuit, is being taken to court by her husband’s mother, Ruth Zafrin, for allegedly spreading false, defamatory and racist lies about her. Mrs Zafrin seeks damages and requests that Ms Croonquist remove any offensive statements from her website and routines.


Netanyahu to receive Auschwitz plans

By Jessica Elgot, August 26, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be presented with the original architectural plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, to keep at Yad Vashem, during his trip to Germany.

Mr Netanyahu will attend a special ceremony in Berlin where the German newspaper Bild will present the plans to him, along with Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev and the director of the Yad Vashem archives, Haim Gertner.


Jewish tributes to Ted Kennedy

By Jessica Elgot, August 26, 2009

Jewish and Israeli leaders have paid tribute to US Senator Ted Kennedy, who died of brain cancer at the age of 77.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is currently in the UK called Senator Kennedy an "American patriot" said that he was "a great friend of Israel".

Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed deep sorrow at the death of Senator Kennedy
He said: "Kennedy was a clear friend of Israel the whole way, and in every place that he could help us, he did help.

“He was a particularly respected leader with an interest in helping society.


Austrian politician attacks Jewish museum director

By Jessica Elgot, August 26, 2009

An Austrian right-wing party leader may face prosecution for calling a Jewish museum director a “Jew in exile from America”.

Dieter Egger, head of the Freedom Party which is part of the coalition government in the country’s Vorarlberg province, was responding to criticism from Hanno Loewy, director of the Jewish museum in Hohenems.

Mr Egger had previously said that he believed that all Austrians should be forced to leave the country if they did not agree with his policy to pay family benefits only to native Austrians.


Bernie Madoff's cancer scare

By Jessica Elgot, August 24, 2009

Bernie Madoff, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison for defrauding clients of $65 billion may be dying of cancer.

The 71-year-old is serving his sentence in Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.

He told inmates he did not expect to live much longer, according to the New York Post.

There had been speculation during his trial that he may be suffering from pancreatic cancer.

An inmate said: “He's been taking about 20 pills a day for his cancer. He talks about it all the time. He's not doing very well."


Israeli lecturer's boycott call attacked

August 23, 2009

A Ben-Gurion University lecturer who called for an international boycott against Israel has been attacked by his own university.

Dr. Neve Gordon told the Los Angeles Times that he thought Israel had reached a historic crossroads and only dramatic measures could ensure its survival.

"It is indeed not a simple matter for me as an Israeli citizen to call on foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organisations, unions and citizens to suspend co-operation with Israel," he wrote.


Israelis and Hamas have secret talks in Switzerland

By Keren David, August 20, 2009

A secret “peace conference” held in Switzerland earlier this month brought together senior establishment figures from Hamas, Fatah and Israel to discuss a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

The meeting was organised by London-based group the Next Century Foundation, which describes itself as a “second track” diplomatic foundation working towards conflict resolution. Its first objective is to provide a forum for Israelis and Palestinians.


Analysis: The halo drops from Human Rights Watch

By Noah Pollak, August 20, 2009

Over the past few years, non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch has managed to portray Israel as one of the greatest human rights violators on earth. The group has produced dozens of heated condemnations of Israel over the Gaza blockade yet only criticised Egypt, which also maintains the blockade, a few times in passing — and Egypt has not even been under rocket attack.

During the 2006 Israel-Hizbollah war, HRW officials repeatedly accused the IDF of intentionally targeting civilians, a claim utterly without substance.


Syrian missile test fails, killing 20

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 20, 2009

Reports of a major failure in a missile firing test in Syria has drawn attention once more to the military co-operation between North Korea, Iran and Syria.

According to the report by the Japanese news agency Kyodo, two improved Scud missiles were fired in a test at the end of March. Both missiles veered off-course, and one of them landed in a marketplace in a town near the Turkish border, killing 20 people and wounding 60.

North Korean and Iranian experts reportedly participated in the trials.


Hebrew school opens - but it is not Jewish

By Paul Berger, August 20, 2009

After a bumpy start and a last-minute scramble to find a home, New York’s first state-funded primary school to specialise in the teaching of Hebrew will open its doors on Monday.

The Hebrew Language Academy is open to Jews and non-Jews alike. Because it is publicly funded and America has a strict separation between church and state, the school had to be vetted by New York State’s board of education to ensure there would be no religious instruction.