Martin Bright

Brown: I'll change war crime arrest law

By Martin Bright, February 25, 2010

Gordon Brown has personally intervened to unblock the logjam over a change in the law that allows local magistrates to issue arrest warrants for visiting foreign politicians accused of war crimes.

The JC understands the Prime Minister is determined to press ahead with the law change before the election.

Last December, Foreign Secretary David Miliband promised to amend legislation after a warrant was issued for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni over her role in planning Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

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Dubai: Hit or miss?

By Martin Bright, February 18, 2010

In 1987 the then Conservative Foreign Office Minister Timothy Renton protested "in the strongest possible terms" to the Israeli ambassador about newspaper reports that forged British passports were being used by Mossad hit men targeting opponents abroad.

As the JC reported at the time, an apology was eventually issued by the Israeli government which assured Britain that it would take steps to avoid it happening again.

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Tories tell Livni: we’ll change 'arrest' law

By Martin Bright, February 18, 2010

Senior Conservatives have assured opposition leader Tzipi Livni that a Tory government would change the law that allows magistrates to issue arrest warrants for foreign politicians accused of war crimes.

Shadow business secretary Ken Clarke and shadow attorney general Edward Garnier met her in Israel as part of a party charm offensive.

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Jenny Tonge stripped of Lords role

By Martin Bright, February 12, 2010

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has sacked controversial peer Jenny Tonge as the party’s health spokesperson in the Lords over her demands for an investigation into allegations of body parts harvesting by the Israeli Defence force in Haiti.

Her remarks followed an article making the accusations in the online journal Palestine Telegraph, of which Baroness Tonge is a patron.

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MP slams ‘Zionist conspiracy’ attack on Labour candidate

By Martin Bright, February 11, 2010

A senior Jewish Labour MP in Liverpool has called on activists in the party to end an anti-Zionist campaign of vilification against Luciana Berger, who was selected as the party’s candidate in the Wavertree constituency of the city last month.

Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, accused veteran MP Peter Kilfoyle of indulging in a “conspiracy theory” by making an issue of Ms Berger’s job as director of Labour Friends of Israel.

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JLC pushes Straw on warrants

By Martin Bright and Anshel Pfeffer, February 11, 2010

The Jewish Leadership Council has written the second letter in as many weeks requesting an urgent meeting with Justice Secretary Jack Straw to discuss the delay in introducing legislation to prevent magistrates from issuing arrest warrants for alleged war criminals.

The JLC first wrote to the Ministry of Justice on January 28 to request urgent talks to discuss why the government had failed to announce the reform.

A new letter, written jointly with the Board of Deputies, was sent on Tuesday, but at the time of going to press, there was no response from Mr Straw.

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Rules of war 'suspended' by the IDF

By Martin Bright, February 4, 2010

The co-founder of the controversial Israeli human rights organisation Breaking the Silence (BTS) has told a London audience that the IDF suspended its rules of engagement during the Gaza conflict in order to protect the lives of Israeli soldiers.

Yehuda Shaul, a 27-year-old former infantryman in the Israeli army, was in London this week to promote the work of BTS.

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LFI's Luciana Berger to seek election in Liverpool

By Martin Bright, January 28, 2010

The director of Labour Friends of Israel has been chosen as the party’s parliamentary candidate for Liverpool Wavertree.

Luciana Berger, 28, who is seen as a one of Labour’s rising stars, will stand in the seat currently held by Jane Kennedy, who has been the constituency MP for 18 years.

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Gaza still an issue over MCB Memorial attendance

By Martin Bright, January 28, 2010

The Muslim Council of Britain voted to send a junior representative to the Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration this week.

After attending for the first time in 2008, the MCB resumed its boycott of the event last year.

The secretary general of the MCB, Dr Mohamed Abdul Bari could not attend, due to a previous engagement at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland.

Nor was his controversial deputy Dr Daoud Abdullah or any of the three assistant secretary generals available.

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Terrorism level is up, but Jews are not targets

By Martin Bright, January 28, 2010

Jews are not considered a specific target following the recent assessment that there is an increased chance of a terrorist attack in the UK.

Intelligence sources say the threat level has been elevated from substantial to severe — but a Whitehall official said: “We haven’t seen anything to suggest an imminent threat to the Jewish community.”

Around three-quarters of all investigations into terrorism have links to Pakistan, which is seen as far more significant than links to the conflict in the Middle East.

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War crimes: Will the government ever act?

By Martin Bright and Stephen Pollard, January 28, 2010

Legislation to prevent magistrates issuing arrest warrants for high-profile foreign visitors accused of war crimes has been delayed because it is still awaiting a decision from Gordon Brown.

One senior government source close to the process told the JC this week: “There is no evidence that the Prime Minister is having second thoughts, but he needs to press the button.”

At the same time, Downing Street sources said that Number 10 was furious that the Justice Secretary Jack Straw is still dragging his feet over the issue.

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Muslim Council rep will attend Holocaust Memorial

By Martin Bright, January 26, 2010

The Muslim Council of Britain has voted to send a junior representative to the Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration on Wednesday.

After attending for the first time in 2008, the MCB resumed its boycott of the event last year.

The Secretary General of the MCB, Dr Mohamed Abdul Bari will not be attending due, according to the organization, to a diary clash. He is at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Nor will his controversial deputy Duad Abdullah or any of the organisation's Assistant Secretary Generals.

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Jewish leaders attack Muslim Council 'deal'

By Martin Bright, January 21, 2010

Senior Jewish leaders have attacked the decision to restore relations between the government and the Muslim Council of Britain.

In a strongly-worded letter to John Denham, the Communities Secretary, the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council expressed their “deep regret” at his announcement last Friday bringing the MCB in from the cold after asking and receiving assurances of its opposition to all forms of racism, including antisemitism.

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Muslim Council of Britain split over Holocaust Day boycott

By Martin Bright, January 14, 2010

The Muslim Council of Britain has refused to say if it will boycott Holocaust Memorial Day for the second year running.

The umbrella organisation attended the commemoration for the first time in 2008 after it voted to end a longstanding boycott following pressure from government. But the MCB did not attend last year in protest at Israel’s military intervention in Gaza.

However, MCB’s high-profile spokesman Inayat Bunglawala has broken with the organisation to say he will attend in his personal capacity.

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War crimes arrest law will change next week

By Martin Bright and Anshel Pfeffer, January 14, 2010

New legislation to stop magistrates granting arrest warrants for visiting politicians and military figures accused of war crimes will be announced next week, the JC can reveal.

The outcry from Israel over a warrant issued for opposition leader Tzipi Livni last month led the government to make a commitment to ensure prominent Israelis will in future be able to travel to the UK without fear of arrest.

Lawyers representing Palestinians in Gaza successfully applied for a warrant last month over Ms Livni’s involvement in authorising Operation Cast Lead.

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Chelsea chants denounced by Muslim leader

By Martin Bright, January 7, 2010

A leading Muslim politician campaigning against antisemitic chanting at Chelsea Football Club has been told that fans who shout “We hate Yids!” about Tottenham fans are not expressing hatred of Jews.

Chelsea has rejected the proposal of the Labour London Assembly member, Murad Qureshi, that the club should introduce an anti-racism programme for fans and stewards to show it is taking the problem seriously

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Am I a neocon or appeaser?

By Martin Bright, January 7, 2010

How does the political editor of the Jewish Chronicle write about Gaza? I asked myself this question during the Christmas break as I read Joe Sacco’s extraordinary graphic novel, Footnotes in Gaza.

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Analysis: Will Straw toe line?

By Martin Bright, January 7, 2010

As the government swirls in a blizzard of plot and counterplot, most commentators agree that two key members of the Cabinet have risen above the fray — Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

There is, therefore, no excuse for them not to get down to business over the issue of who it is within this country’s judicial system who can issue arrest warrants for visiting foreign politicians accused of war crimes: local magistrates or the Attorney General. But can Mr Straw be persuaded to overcome his resistance to new legislation?

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Analysis: This stuff really matters to the Labour government

By Martin Bright, December 17, 2009

If Tzipi Livni is a war criminal then she should stand trial at the International Criminal Court. Israel is not beyond judgment for its actions. If crimes against humanity were committed in Gaza by Israeli troops, then the war cabinet in which Ms Livni served as Foreign Minister should be held to account. The British government understands that and — although this may come as a surprise to some people — so does the Israeli government.

Ms Livni suggested as much herself in a speech on Tuesday following the news that she cancelled a trip to Britain for fear of arrest.

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Anti-Israel attacks spread across web

By Martin Bright, December 17, 2009

Anti-Zionist activists are increasingly turning their attention to a web-based de-legitimisation campaign against Israel rather than high-profile public protests against individual politicians.

The Community Security Trust is particularly concerned about the organisation Redress, which highlights alleged injustice across the Middle East via its website and social networks Facebook and Twitter.

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