World news

Johannesburg university queries Israel link

By Moira Schneider, May 27, 2010

The Middle East conflict is once again centre stage in South Africa as the University of Johannesburg (UJ) considers breaking its ties with Israel's Ben Gurion University (BGU) over its alleged association with human rights abuses of Palestinians.

The UJ senate debated the issue last Monday and has resolved that it should be considered by a committee, led by UJ deputy vice-chancellor Adam Habib, for the purpose of making recommendations within three months.


Are liberal Jews dropping Zionism?

By Paul Berger, May 27, 2010

An essay by American journalist Peter Beinart in the New York Review of Books, claiming that "Morally, American Zionism is in a downward spiral", has provoked a storm among supporters of Israel in the US.

Mr Beinart, a former editor of the pro-Israel New Republic and a one-time supporter of the Iraq War - in other words, no bleeding-heart liberal - said he fears that Zionism will soon have little to offer liberal Americans. He lays the blame squarely at the door of "the Jewish establishment".


Activist free after fifteen years in Peru jail

By Jennifer Lipman, May 26, 2010

A Jewish woman is to go free after spending 15 years in a South American jail on terror charges.

A judge in Lima, Peru, granted American activist Lori Berenson, 40, early parole on grounds of good behaviour.

The New Yorker, who gave birth to a son in 2009 while behind bars, was arrested in 1995 for collaborating with the communist Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).

Ms Berenson, the only American Peru has ever jailed on terror charges, was convicted as an accomplice of the leftist guerilla group and for her involvement in a plan to attack the Peruvian Congress.


Obama Chief of Staff to meet Netanyahu and Peres

By Jessica Elgot, May 26, 2010

President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will meet Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today and President Shimon Peres tomorrow.

Emmanuel, who is in Israel for his son Zach’s barmitzvah, is expected to have an informal chat with both men about the current proximity talks with the Palestinians and to discuss general US-Israel bilateral relations.

The barmitzvah ceremony will be held in Jerusalem, but it is not clear if it will take place at the Western Wall.


Ireland’s President thanks Jewish donors

By Jessica Elgot, May 25, 2010

Ireland’s President Mary McAleese has personally thanked the Jewish community for a donation of $82,000 given to the victims of the Irish Potato Famine in 1847.

The President was speaking at New York's Temple Shearith Israel, a synagogue founded in Crosby Street in 1654 by Brazilian, Spanish and Portuguese Jews.

In 1847 Jacques Judah Lyons, who was chazan of the synagogue, organised a donation of $1,000 from the congregation to be sent to the victims of the famine. The Irish famine killed more than a million people between 1845 and 1852.


Sarah Jessica Parker shines at premiere

By Jennifer Lipman, May 25, 2010

Sarah Jessica Parker wowed the crowds at the Sex and the City 2 premiere in New York in a fluorescent yellow dress.

The Jewish actress did her alter-ego Carrie Bradshaw proud in a floor length Valentino piece as she launched the much anticipated second film in the popular series.

Sporting a tan and characteristic killer heels, Ms Parker was joined on the blue carpet by fellow cast members Kim Catrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon.

After the film the stars enjoyed a Middle Eastern style dinner of hummus and kebabs.


Peres denies offering South Africa nuclear weapons

By Jennifer Lipman, May 24, 2010

The Israeli president has slammed The Guardian newspaper for its claim that Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons in the 1970s.

Shimon Peres said the allegations had no basis in reality and demanded a correction after the newspaper accused Israel of holding secret negotiations with South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, in March 1975.

The newspaper said an American academic had uncovered secret documents showing that as Israel’s defence minister, Mr Peres had offered three sizes of warheads to the apartheid regime.


Brittany Murphy's husband found dead

May 24, 2010

The Jewish husband of actress Brittany Murphy has died age 39 after suffering a suspected heart attack at the couple’s former home in Hollywood Hills.

Screenwriter Simon Monjack’s death comes just five months after Brittany, 32, died in his arms after suffering a heart attack in the shower at the same house.

After Brittany’s death Monjack ruffled feathers when he tried in vain to block plans for a post-mortem examination.

Monjack, who was born in North London, met Brittany through a mutual friend and they married soon afterwards in a Jewish ceremony in LA in May 2007.


Auschwitz reopens after flood threat

By Jessica Elgot, May 21, 2010

Auschwitz has reopened to visitors after extreme floods, which have claimed the lives of seven people in Poland, forced the museum to close.

Thousands were evacuated from their homes after the Vistula and Sola rivers flooded after heavy rain.

Auschwitz’s museum has been closed since Monday, as volunteers and firefighters worked to build flood barriers to protect it from the rising water. Archives and thousands of items belonging to the camp’s victims were re-stored in top floors of the museum’s buildings.

The water reached within a few metres of the grounds on Tuesday night.


Man, 85, deported to Austria for Nazi crimes

By Jessica Elgot, May 21, 2010

An 85-year-old man, who has admitted he was a SS guard at three Nazi concentration camps, has had his US citizenship revoked and will be deported to Austria.

Anton Geiser, who lives in Sharon, Philadelphia, admitted he served as an SS Guard in Sachsenhausen in 1943, where he marched forced labourers and was on orders to shoot attempted escapees. He was a member of the SS Death’s Head battalion

He also admitted serving as an armed guard at Buchenwald and Arolsen between November 1943 and April 1945.