World news

Thousands march across Arab world

December 31, 2008

Demonstrations swept the Arab world this week as tens of thousands of people marched to protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

A number of mass rallies were held in Beirut, including one where thousands turned out to hear a video address by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who called for “a third intifada” in response to the air strikes.


Yemeni Jews: relocation offer

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 30, 2008

The Jewish community in Rayda have refused an offer by the Yemeni President to relocate to the capital, Sana’a. Three weeks ago, a Jewish teacher was killed there by a former air force officer demanding his conversion to Islam.

About 270 Jews live in the Rayda area and they have been living in fear since the murder of Moshe Yaish Nahari by former pilot Abdul Aziz Yahya Hamoud Al-Abdi, who has already confessed to the murder. In his defence he said that he had given Nahari a choice between converting to Islam, fleeing the country or death.


There’s Chanucah bingeing, then there’s 46-latke Pete

By Simon Round, December 23, 2008

The beginning of Chanucah on Sunday has prompted the start of the do-something-silly-with-latkes season, with eating contests, an attempt to fry the country’s largest potato pancake and even a bid to cook a latke in a solar powered oven.

In New Jersey, a 6ft 2in Canadian bodybuilder, “Furious” Pete Czerwinski, blitzed allcomers to win the National Potato Latke Eating Championships.


Israel helps to boost Bethlehem tourism

By Ben Lynfield, December 23, 2008

A tourist revival in Bethlehem has seen the number of visitors double this year.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cite improved security as the main factor in bringing 1.25 million tourists to Bethlehem, twice as many as in 2007.

But while Israel stresses that it has made it easier for tourists to cross from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the PA insists difficulties still remain and that tourism figures could be higher if not for the difficulties still involved in travel.


Fear over Russia air defence sale to Iran

By Yaakov Katz, December 23, 2008

Concern mounted in Israel this week over reports that Russia has finalised plans to sell an anti-aircraft missile system to Iran that would make any potential airstrike against their nuclear facilities far more difficult.

Israel is concerned that Russia will sell Iran the S-300, one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-systems in the world. It has a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12. It has a range of 200 kilometers and can hit targets at altitudes of 90,000 feet.


Reform proposes merger

December 23, 2008

The leader of the US Reform movement, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, proposed that some of his movement’s synagogues could pool resources and merge with Conservative shuls to save costs in the face of the global economic crisis.


Polish president at shul

December 23, 2008

Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski marked the start of Chanucah by visiting Warsaw’s main synagogue, the first time a head of state had attended a religious service at a synagogue in the Eastern European country.


Kantor wins new EJC term

December 23, 2008

Russian-born businessman Moshe Kantor won a second four-year term as head of the European Jewish Congress. He said that he would work to stop the upcoming Durban II conference from becoming an anti-Israel forum.


Italian MP slams Pius XII

December 23, 2008

The speaker of the Italian parliament, Gianfranco Fini — who himself began his career in a neo-fascist party — criticised the wartime pope Pius XII for not doing enough to oppose Mussolini’s antisemitic race laws, introduced in 1938.


Hungary’s far-right party is disbanded

By Thomas Land, December 23, 2008

A Budapest court has disbanded the right-wing Magyar Garda (Hungarian Guard) association, widely seen as the 21st-century heir of the Nazi-era Arrow Cross.

The verdict issued at the end of the five-day proceedings effectively disqualified the association from organising public demonstrations due to concerns over its right-wing ideology and threatening behaviour, which principally targeted Jews and Gypsies.

The Alliance of Hungarian Jewish Religious Communities (Mazsihisz)welcomed the ruling and described the trial as a successful test of Hungarian democracy.