World news

Dubai officials seek five more for Hamas murder

By Jessica Elgot, May 6, 2010

Dubai officials have identified five new suspects in their enquiry into the murder of a senior Hamas terrorist in January.

The additional suspects bring the total to 32. They are accused of being part of a hit squad in Dubai who murdered Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury hotel.

International investigators believe an Israeli national, Zev Barkan, who was sought in New Zealand in 2004 for passport fraud, may be connected to the Dubai case.

He has never directly faced enquiries in New Zealand since he was suspected of forging New Zealand passports.


New Palestinian city irks settlers

By Nathan Jeffay, May 6, 2010

When smart new houses spring up in the West Bank, it is normally settlers commissioning the building and Palestinians protesting. But in one place, they are trading places.

Construction in Jewish areas is slow due to the settlement freeze. But six miles north of Ramallah, builders are working non-stop on the first planned Palestinian city. And the settlers are furious.

Construction crews broke the ground at the new city, Rawabi, in January. In the first phase of construction, they are building 5,000 units across 23 neighbourhoods to house 25,000 people.


Turks elect their chief rabbi

May 6, 2010

Rabbi Isak Haleva has been re-elected Chief Rabbi of Turkey for a seven-year term under a unique system which allows Jewish men and women over the age of 18 to choose their religious leader.

Rabbi Haleva, 69, received 4,268 votes while his rival, 45-year-old Ilhan Eli Levy, an Istanbul-born rabbi currently living in Jerusalem, got only 343 votes.

Polling stations operated in synagogues in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Adana, Bursa and other cities where smaller Jewish communities exist. There was a higher turnout this time than in previous elections.


Kosher fraudster weeps in handcuffs

By Paul Berger, May 6, 2010

The convicted former CEO of America's largest kosher slaughterhouse broke down in court last week as he apologised to his family and the community for his crimes.

Sholom Rubashkin, 50, spoke towards the end of a two-day hearing in Iowa last week after being found guilty of 86 charges of financial fraud in November.


Egypt pushes for nuclear-free region

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 6, 2010

Israeli officials have played down reports that the Obama administration will support an Egyptian plan to force Israel to disclose details of its nuclear arsenal and commit to disarmament, as part of its global strategy to reduce nuclear stockpiles.

There has been no confirmation of this from official administration sources and a very senior Israeli official said that "we have received no signal at all from the Americans on this".


Europe sets up left-wing Israel lobby

By Shirli Sitbon, May 6, 2010

A new European group modelling itself on J Street, the left-leaning American Israel lobby, was launched at the European Parliament on Monday.

Hundreds of supporters of J Call, including MEPS and two former Israeli envoys, presented a petition asking Israel to stop its settlement activity and calling on Europe to intervene.

Headed "a European Jewish Call for Reason" and partially written by former Israeli envoy to France Elie Barnavi, the online petition has been signed by more than 4,700 people.


Goldstone: Criticism of South African Jews hurt

By Jessica Elgot, May 5, 2010

Judge Richard Goldstone has met a delegation of South African community leaders, with whom he had agreed to hold a discussion in return for being able to attend his grandson’s barmitzvah unhindered.

Judge Goldstone, author of the controversial UN report into Operation Cast Lead, had originally agreed not to attend the barmitzvah, which took place this Shabbat. He came to an agreement with the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Johannesburg Sandton Synagogue.

The SAZF had reportedly threatened to protest outside the shul should Judge Goldstone attend.


Ahmedinejad accuses US, Israel of planning Iran nuclear attack

By Jessica Elgot, May 4, 2010

British delegates walked out of a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad at the United Nations, in which he attacked the US and Israel’s nuclear programmes at a session on nuclear proliferation.

The US Department of Defence used the same meeting to call for transparency about nuclear arms – revealing it has 5,113 nuclear weapons currently in its arsenal.


Clinton: We support Israel against Syria, Iran

By Jessica Elgot, April 30, 2010

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has restated the US’s firm commitment to Israel’s security and has warned Iran and Syria against supplying weapons to Gaza and Hizbollah.

In a speech to the American Jewish Committee, Mrs Clinton underlined her commitment to peace in the region, and condemned the transfer of weapons from Syria to terrorists in Gaza and to Hizbollah in Lebanon.

Israel is becoming increasingly concerned over the possible transfer of Scud missiles to Hizbollah, which would allow terrorists to hit Israeli targets more easily.


Iraq urges return of Jewish documents

By Jessica Elgot, April 30, 2010

Iraq has demanded the return of thousands of Jewish documents, sifrei Torah and Haggadot belonging to the Jewish community in Iraq, which were “rescued” to be restored in the US during the invasion in May 2003.

An Iraqi delegation, led by the country’s deputy minister for culture has now met senior State Department officials in the US to arrange for the documents’ return to Iraq.

But there is also a feeling that the materials should actually be returned to their Jewish owners, most of whom now live in Israel.