Leon Symons

TUC boycott vote prompts anger

By Leon Symons, September 24, 2009

The decision of the Trades Union Congress to support a “targeted, consumer-led” boycott of goods from Israeli settlements in occupied areas has been described as a warning shot.

Communal leaders fear that unions which are avowedly anti-Israel will attempt to implement a much wider boycott next year. They also believe that not enough was done ahead of congress to avert the outcome.

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Foreign Office man guilty of racist rant

By Leon Symons, September 24, 2009

Foreign Office civil servant Rowan Laxton has been found guilty of uttering a foul-mouthed anti-Israel rant at a gymnasium during Operation Cast lead in January.

District judge Howard Riddle fined Laxton, 48, £350 with £500 costs at Westminster Magistrates Court.

His counsel, Julian Knowles, said afterwards: “Mr Laxton is very disappointed by the outcome and he will be considering his next steps with his legal team.”

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CSC attacks Neo-nazi CDs

By Leon Symons, September 18, 2009

The Centre for Social Cohesion has said it will report the neo-Nazi group Blood & Honour to the police for distributing racially offensive music CDs.

CSC says the CDs would, encourage acts of hatred and terrorism against ethnic minorities that would infringe the Public Order Act 1986 and the Terrorism Act 2000.

A section of the lyrics of a song called “Murder Squad” by a group called Blue Eyed Devils says:

“Traitors are hung and others shot dead
Kill the Jew and cut off his head
Destroy the enemy and his lies
Send the filth to an early demise.”

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Lewis slams Livingstone's Hamas interview

By Leon Symons, September 18, 2009

Foreign office minister Ivan Lewis has criticised former mayor of London Ken Livingstone for “handing a propaganda coup” to the terrorist organisation Hamas.

The latest edition of the New Statesman magazine carried a lengthy interview by Mr Livingstone of Khaled Meshal, the head of Hamas, who lives in exile in Syria.

In a statement, Mr Lewis said: “Ken Livingstone rightly earned praise for his strong and responsible leadership in the aftermath of the 7/7 attacks on London.

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UJIA admits Olmert got event invite

By Leon Symons, September 18, 2009

Israel’s ex-UN ambassador Dan Gillerman was centre stage at UJIA’s annual dinner on Monday night.

What most of the 700 guests present at London’s Hilton Hotel in Mayfair might not have known was that he was a late replacement for former Israeli premier Ehud Olmert.

UJIA admitted this week that Mr Olmert had been booked to appear as guest of honour for its biggest fundraising event of the year.

Chief executive Doug Krikler said he had been invited — and had accepted the invitation — to speak in London “some months ago”.

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Ben Uri move fails

By Leon Symons, September 18, 2009

The Ben Uri, Anglo-Jewry’s leading gallery and art museum, has lost out in a bid to move to a new home in London’s theatreland.

Chairman David Glasser said that while there was “enormous disappointment” that its bid to move to the former premises of the Theatre Museum in Russell Street, Covent Garden had failed, an alternative plan would be put into action straight away that would achieve the same aim.

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Police keep far right away from Muslim marchers

By Leon Symons, September 18, 2009

Fears of violent clashes between far-right demonstrators and Muslims on a march in central London proved unfounded after a massive police operation kept them apart.

About 1,000 people took part in the annual Iranian-backed Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march on Sunday.

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Muslim group publish Jewish organ-traffiking 'blood libel'

By Leon Symons, September 17, 2009

The Muslim Association of Britain has said it will remove from its website a story claiming “Jewish rings” kidnapped children from Algeria to harvest their organs for sale in Israel and America.

Its story linked the child abduction allegation to the arrest in July of a Brooklyn man, Levy-Itzhak Rosenbaum, who was accused of trying to buy kidneys for £6,000 and reselling them for almost £100,000.

It was claimed that the children were taken to Morocco, where the organs were removed and then taken to Israel and America.

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Common cause at ZF

By Leon Symons, September 17, 2009

An Israeli politician has called on diaspora communities to work together with Israel to tackle common issues such as assimilation and education.

Addressing the Zionist Federation’s biennial conference in London, Kadima MK Yoel Hasson said: “I believe we are all one people. We have the same destiny and the same future and we should help and support each other.

“We should deal with assimilation and problems with young people. It’s not just your problem, it’s ours too.”

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Pro-Israel MP fires pro-Palestinian staffer

By Leon Symons, September 15, 2009

Brent North MP Barry Gardiner, one of Israel’s staunchest Parliamentary supporters, has sacked the man he appointed as his campaigns and communications manager for allegedly not revealing that he was pro-Palestinian.

Mr Gardiner, a former vice chair of Labour Friends of Israel, had appointed Joseph Brown to the post.

Last year Mr Brown was the union anti-racism officer at the London School of Economics (LSE) and took part in an anti-Israeli demonstration in January in the wake of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

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Three charged in safety deposit centre raid

By Leon Symons, September 10, 2009

Three people have been charged in connection with Operation Rize, a series of raids on safety deposit centres carried out by the Metropolitan Police in June last year.

Milton Woolf, 53, of West Heath Drive, Golders Green, a director of Safe Deposit Centres Limited, the company that controlled Hampstead Safe Depository, Edgware Safe Depository, and Park Lane Safe Depository, has been charged with 24 offences.

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Imprisoned by MI5 for writing a letter home to mum

By Leon Symons, September 10, 2009

Henry Wuga was just 15 when he was interned early in the Second World War for writing a letter to his parents in Germany.

Almost 70 years later, Mr Wuga confirmed his long-held suspicion that it was only a declaration of his innocence by MI5 that got him released from prison.

Mr Wuga, now 85, with two married daughters and four grandsons, told his story as part of the BBC’s The Week We Went to War series, shown this week to commemorate the outbreak of the Second World War.

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Pro-Israel MP's new official is Palestinian activist

By Leon Symons, September 10, 2009

One of Israel’s staunchest supporters in Parliament is at the centre of a row over his appointment of a campaigns and communications manager who appears to be strongly anti-Israel.

Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North in north-west London and a former vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, has appointed Joseph Brown, who declared his “continued dedication to the Palestinian cause” after being pictured at an anti-Israeli demonstration in January.

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UK fascists to wave Israeli flag at rally

By Leon Symons, September 10, 2009

Jews may be waving a Palestinian flag at a demonstration on Sunday — while the Israeli flag will be displayed by a group of fascists.

This surreal prospect follows the adoption of the Israeli flag by some British extreme rightwingers.

Members of the English Defence League clashed with anti-racists in Birmingham on Saturday. Prominent in some of the photographs were demonstrators waving an Israeli flag. At least one Muslim website has claimed a “connection between the EDL and Zionists”.

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Vilnius cemetery is saved

By Leon Symons, September 3, 2009

A long-running international row over the future of a 700-year-old cemetery in Lithuania has been settled.

The disused Snipiskes cemetery in Vilnius was found when developers began setting the foundations of an office block in 2007 and uncovered the remains of graves.

Protests were lodged by the London-based Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe (CPJCE), the American and British ambassadors in Vilnius and the Board of Deputies, who demanded that building stop until the exact boundaries of the cemetery were determined.

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Fire-fighters call for TUC Israel boycott

By Leon Symons, September 3, 2009

The Trades Union Congress has come under international pressure over a motion to its annual conference calling on it to review its links with Histadrut, its Israeli counterpart.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has tabled a resolution for the conference, to be held in two weeks’ time, which also calls for a ban on the importation of all goods from “illegal settlements”, the ending of all arms trading with Israel, a boycott of Israeli goods and divestment from companies “associated with the occupation”.

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Recession hits World Jewish Relief

By Leon Symons, September 3, 2009

World Jewish Relief, Anglo-Jewry’s main international relief charity, has been forced to cut some of its budgets in eastern Europe by 15 per cent because of the recession.

While none of its current or future projects have been dramatically affected, the charity has trimmed the amount it contributes to organisations such as the American Joint Distribution Committee, which undertakes day-to-day work in WJR’s three community centres in Poland and the Ukraine.

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South Africa calls for expat Jews to return

By Leon Symons, September 3, 2009

A call by new South African president Jacob Zuma for expatriate Jews to return home has received a lukewarm response in the UK.

President Zuma made his plea to an 800-strong audience at the national conference of the South African Board of Deputies in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

“This country has a massive skills shortage as a result of decades of neglect and deliberate under-investment,” he said. “This problem is exacerbated by the emigration of skilled people. We must reverse the trend.

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Cut-priced store helps the needy

By Leon Symons, August 13, 2009

A new kosher store in north-west London is attempting to assist poorer families by selling meat and groceries at little more than cost price.

The store is operating from a Dollis Hill business park, a deliberately low-key location so as not to take business away from other Jewish shops. It is being backed by a committee of communal philanthropists.

“We are simply trying to help people in the Jewish community,” said manager Moshe Monitz.

“People would rather buy with their own money than receive food parcels and feel needy.

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Terror as jet takes a mid-flight plunge

By Leon Symons, August 13, 2009

Terrified passengers screamed in fear as a Jet2 aircraft carrying 250 people from Tel Aviv to Manchester last week plunged thousands of feet after the cabin suddenly lost pressure.

The aircraft, a Boeing 757-200, was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

One passenger, Marc Baer, 24, from Prestwich, Lancs, suffered a panic attack and was helped by a doctor and cabin crew until the plane landed.

He said: “It was extremely frightening and it went through my mind that we were about to crash.

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