World news

Retrial after 'light' Halimi murder sentences

By Jessica Elgot, July 14, 2009

A Paris court has ordered the re-trial of a some members of a gang connected to the murder of young Jewish man, because their sentences were "too lenient."

Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie personally intervened to ask the French public prosecutor for longer jail terms.

Those who will eventually be retried will not, however, include Youssouf Fofana, 28, the ringleader of the gang, who was sentenced to a maximum sentence of life in prison, without possibility of parole for 22 years.

Mr. Fofana was the only defendant convicted of murder.


Obama in talks with US Jewish leaders

By Jessica Elgot, July 13, 2009

President Barack Obama is meeting US Jewish leaders to respond to their concerns over his Middle East policies.

Although ostensibly the leaders have been invited to discuss Mr Obama’s domestic policy, in fact he is understood to be particularly addressing the pressure he is putting on the Israeli government to crack down on illegal Jewish settlements.

Mr Obama has invited representatives from Orthodox, Conservative and Reform groups alongside major American Jewish organisations such as the American Jewish Committee and Hadassah.


Minister will appeal against Halimi murder sentence

By Jessica Elgot, July 13, 2009

The French Justice Minister has accepted an appeal against the light sentencing of those involved in the murder of Ilan Halimi, which could mean a complete retrial.

Youssouf Fofana, the leader of the self-described French "gang of barbarians" was sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping and torturing Ilan Halimi, 23, for more than three weeks, until leaving him to die by some railway tracks.


Demjanjuk formally charged with 27,900 counts

By Jessica Elgot, July 13, 2009

German prosecutors have formally charged John Demjanjuk with 27,900 counts of being an accessory to murder.

The date of the trial of the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, 89, has not yet been confirmed.


Pope sacks officials over Holocaust-denier

By Jessica Elgot, July 10, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has sacked two Vatican officials and abolished their department after they persuaded him to reverse the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying British bishop.

Bishop Richard Williamson has repeatedly and publicly denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers and has claimed that no more than 300,000 Jews perished in the Holocaust.

In January, Pope Benedict was persuaded to lift the excommunication of Bishop Williamson who was expelled from the Church by Pope John Paul II for internal Church reasons unrelated to the bishop’s Holocaust beliefs.


Could the US send Syria a frum envoy?

By Hilary Krieger, Washington, July 9, 2009

The Obama administration is currently deciding who will become America’s next ambassador to Syria.

The diplomatic post is to be filled for the first time in four years, as US efforts to engage with Syria intensify.

The administration is hoping that, through persistent diplomacy, the US will be able to peel Syria out of the orbit of Iran, with whom it has a strategic alliance, and lead it toward a more positive relationship with the West.

This would include a peace treaty with Israel and the cutting of support for Hamas, Hizbollah and other Iranian-financed terror outfits.


Our ‘future leaders’ set out their visions

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

What are young Jewish “leaders” and “thinkers” interested in?
If the 120 participants in the fourth annual Return On Investment (ROI) Summit last week in Israel are anything to go by, the answer seems to be: the same things as other starry-eyed idealists — student politics, human rights, multiculturalism and volunteering in the developed world. They also want to find other Jewish partners with whom to explore these interests.


Oil boss plans Iran investment

By Shelly Paz, July 9, 2009

Dr Alexander Machkevitch, one of the world’s richest businessmen and president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, has a business plan — for Iran.

Once the current regime is replaced and sanctions are lifted, he wants to invest in the country’s oil industry, as Iran loses capital by not refining its own oil.

“I discussed the plan with a group of Iranian businessmen who are quite tired of the situation in the country but it will be possible only with political support,” Mr Machkevitch said. “I am very optimistic.”


Religion summit turns ugly

By Shelly Paz, July 9, 2009

No one can accuse the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, of being insincere in his efforts to bring together believers of all faiths.

His nation of 16.7 million includes as many as 150 nationalities. Three thousand, two hundred mosques, churches, temples, synagogues and many other houses of worship are prominent in Astana, the country’s rapidly developing new capital.


A political war is fought over Israel’s courts

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 9, 2009

After years of being a bastion of Israel’s liberal-left establishment, the Supreme Court appears to be moving to the right.

There is currently deadlock in the appointment of three new Supreme Court judges, with an ideological battle being waged between religious and right-wing representatives and the secular, mostly Ashekanzi left.
The Judicial Appointments Committee is chaired by the Justice Minister, and also includes three judges from the Supreme Court, three Knesset members and two representatives of the Israel Bar Association.