World news

More Israelis can opt for civil burials

By Nathan Jeffay Haifa, June 18, 2009

The prospect of civil marriage in Israel is receding, but civil burial became easier with the opening of the country’s second state civil cemetery.

Administered by a non-governmental organisation called Menucha Nechona (Proper Rest), the new facility, in Kfar Saba, will accommodate people of all religions and none. Burial rituals will be a matter of personal choice, as will be the style of burial. Coffins, though unusual in Israel, may be used.

There is only one other state civil cemetery; in Be’er Sheba in the Negev.


Museum shooting blamed on... Obama

By Hilary Krieger, Washington, June 18, 2009

Could Barack Obama’s election to the presidency be behind a rise in anti-Jewish activity in the US?

This is the theory being advanced by experts on extremism, who say that membership of anti-Jewish groups has grown since he became the country’s first African-American president.

Members of these groups seem to believe that the Jews are behind his election, and that Mr Obama and the Jews are plotting to destroy white people.


Racist duo are sent back to UK

By Leon Symons, June 18, 2009

Two men who were refused political asylum in America after being convicted in Britain of publishing racially inflammatory material on the internet appeared at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle fled to California. They were sent home on Tuesday, 11 months after jumping bail while the jury in their trial were part-way through returning their verdicts.


Rabbi faces extradition over ‘fraud’

By Leon Symons, June 18, 2009

A Charedi rabbi is considering whether to take his fight against extradition to America to the House of Lords after a legal defeat on Wednesday.

Avrum Friesel, 56, moved to Stamford Hill in 1999. He had been wanted in America on fraud charges allegedly committed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was town clerk of the New Square Town in New York, a Chasidic community belonging to the Skverer sect.


Charity plans ‘Apartheid Israel’ forum

By Marcus Dysch, June 18, 2009

War on Want has been accused of inciting hatred by planning an event presenting Israel as an apartheid state.

Pro-Israel groups have attacked the anti-poverty charity’s “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide” evening taking place in Tower Hamlets, east London, on July 9. It is to feature a question-and-answer session with Ben White, a freelance writer and author of a book of the same title.


Israel’s press chief blasts media critics

By James Martin, June 18, 2009

Israel’s press spokesman in the UK has fired a parting shot at the British media, declaring that “illegitimate criticism of Israel borders on antisemitism”.

Having arrived in Britain on the heels of the Lebanon war of August 2006, the London embassy’s press attache Lior Ben Dor is now leaving to become number two at Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires — his wife is from Argentina.

In a trenchant interview on the eve of his departure, Mr Ben Dor expressed particular unhappiness about the Guardian and the Independent, as well as elements of the BBC.


Sydney tycoon is ‘another Madoff’

By Moira Schneider Cape Town and Dan Goldberg Sydney, June 18, 2009

A Jewish businessman has been accused of masterminding South Africa’s largest ever corporate fraud, scamming 400 investors out of some £730 million in a giant pyramid scheme.

Barry Tannenbaum, 43, allegedly promised investors returns of up to 200 per cent from his company, Frankel Chemicals. He told them he was importing raw materials for the manufacture of HIV drugs by some of South Africa’s pharmaceutical giants, including Adcock Ingram, founded by his grandfather, Hymie. Forged documents were reportedly used to persuade investors that their money was secure.


Nick Clegg: ‘Israel Jewish?’

By Marcus Dysch, June 18, 2009

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg stunned audience members at a major speech on antisemitism by asking whether referring to Israel as a Jewish state was “a new idea”.

Mr Clegg invited audience questions after delivering the second annual lecture of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism in Westminster on Monday.


How OBE can be revoked

By Keren David, June 18, 2009

The complaint to the Cabinet Office by JNF KKL Scotland over the award of an OBE to Simon Winters in the Queen’s Birthday Honours could set in train a long and complex process.

According to a written Parliamentary answer by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last year: “Cancellation is considered in cases where retention of the appointment or award would bring the honours system into disrepute. There are no set guidelines.”


Soldier killed in Afghanistan

By Marcus Dysch, June 18, 2009

A Jewish soldier has been killed in Afghanistan trying to protect his
platoon from a roadside bomb.

Lieutenant Paul Mervis of 2nd Battalion The Rifles died in an explosion last Friday during a foot patrol in northern Helmand province.
In Afghanistan, he carried a 1936 issue Soldier’s Siddur which had previously belonged to Sergeant Dave Newman, who fought in the Battle of El Alamein in World War II.

Paying tribute to the 27-year-old, his family, members of Wimbledon Reform Synagogue, said he was “generous and thoughtful, with an infectious sense of fun”.