World news

Scrutiny of Claims Conference grows

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 19, 2008

The Claims Conference is facing a deeper scrutiny of its affairs, both from the Israeli Comptroller and the German Auditor’s Office.

The German investigation into the Conference’s accounts is the result of rising criticism of the lack of transparency of the body which transfers pensions to Holocaust survivors from the Berlin government.


Israel and Syria keep talking…

By Sami Kohen, June 19, 2008

Israeli and Syrian representatives held the second round of “proximity’’ talks in Istanbul this week through Turkey’s mediation.

Israeli sources described the atmosphere of the two-day talks as positive and constructive. There are indications that these indirect talks will continue in the coming weeks, although officials refrained from giving any clue as to the date of the next round.


The baroness planning to sue Poland over lost family assets

By Miriam Shaviv, June 12, 2008

Baroness Deech, the former BBC governor and Oxford college head, has hired lawyers in a bid to force the Polish government to compensate her for a series of family properties apparently confiscated during the Second World War.

The estate includes a block of flats in Krakow which belonged to her maternal grandmother, killed in a concentration camp, and a now-derelict oil refinery owned by her paternal grandfather near a village where he was once mayor.


Author claims ‘weak’ wartime Pope tried to exorcise Hitler

By Jan Shure, June 12, 2008

Far from being pro-Hitler, the wartime pope Pius XII used to get up in the middle of the night and perform exorcisms on the German dictator, believing him to be possessed by the devil.


Gaza is no-go for Blair

By Shelly Paz, June 12, 2008

Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair has told the Commons foreign-affairs select committee that he would not visit the Hamas-run Gaza Strip for fear of disrupting peace efforts.

The former prime minister, addressing MPs last Thursday, said: “We need to get a ceasefire in Gaza, progressively to start reopening the crossings, start to get proper humanitarian help through, and then build our way back out of this situation where the people of Gaza can be helped.”


Faith work adopted by Europe

By Leon Symons, June 12, 2008

A Jewish-inspired project to integrate faith and ethnic minorities through schools and youth programmes is to be adopted by the European Commission.

Representatives from all 27 EU member states participated in a two-day conference in Belfast last week, where they were briefed on the Shared Futures scheme, begun in Britain by the Board of Deputies and the Pears Foundation.


Israelis: Palestine welcomes you

By Ben Lynfield, June 12, 2008
PA tourism chief urges visits to Bethlehem to boost the West Bank’s economy

Israeli tourists are welcome in Bethlehem and would be safe if they visit, the Palestinian Tourism Minister promised this week.

“It is true we still live under isolation, we still have the wall and you have to enter though checkpoints, but once you enter you will find people who receive you warmly and you will have a unique experience,” Khouloud Daibes said in her office near Manger Square.


Berlin hands an extra £163m to claims body

By Toby Axelrod, June 12, 2008

The Conference for Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, smarting over a critical article in the German press, has obtained an additional estimated £163 million over the next decade through its annual negotiations with the German government.

The successful talks in Berlin took place as the organisation fended off suggestions in Der Spiegel that it is less transparent than it should be. Last week’s article drew a pointed rebuttal from the Claims Conference, which accused the authors of including “numerous inaccuracies and distortions”.


Shanghai Jews build records

June 12, 2008

The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum has begun building a database of the tens of thousands of Jews who sought sanctuary in the Chinese city
after fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s. Leading the project is Uri Gutman, Israel’s consul-general in Shanghai, who described it as “a historical mission”.


No decision on Seattle murder

June 12, 2008

A mistrial has been declared in the case of an armed man who killed one woman and injured five others in a July 2006 shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. A jury failed to reach a decision on Naveed Haq, 32, who pled not guilty by reason of insanity.