Leon Symons

Hain refuses plea to testify against Israel

By Leon Symons, August 13, 2009

Cabinet member Peter Hain has refused to appear as an expert witness for five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign involved in a court case over an anti-Israeli protest during an Edinburgh Festival concert.

The name of the Secretary of State for Wales appeared on a list of people whom the SPSC group claimed in an email that it had approached to give expert evidence on behalf of the defendants.

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Health website specialises in Jewish genetic diseases

By Leon Symons, August 13, 2009

People afflicted by rare illnesses which predominantly affect Jews will be able to find out how to cope with them through a new health website.

Tay-Sachs disease, Niemann-Pick syndrome, Canavan disease, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis and even the extremely rare maple syrup disease are among the illnesses which will be highlighted on the website www.healthtalkonline.org.uk

Oxford sociologist Dr Sara Ryan, who is running the part of the website that deals with Jewish health, has been seeking volunteers all over the country to give interviews about these illnesses.

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Huge protests set for BNP festival

By Leon Symons, August 13, 2009

Thousands of anti-fascists from all over the country will be hoping to disrupt the BNP’s annual festival in a Derbyshire village this weekend.

Unite Against Fascism has 43 coaches ready to carry supporters to Codnor, where they will confront the BNP on Saturday during its Red, White and Blue festival.

Anindya Bhattacharyya, UAF press officer, said: “We want to get as many people as possible to protest. We want to put pressure on the BNP to make it clear to anyone going to the festival that the vast majority of people in this country find their views repulsive.”

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London: Mourners gather to support Tel Aviv's gay community

By Leon Symons, August 6, 2009

They started by lighting a candle. They sang songs and recited memorial prayers and made speeches of hope.

But above all they remembered Nir Katz and Liz Troubishi, who were murdered on Saturday in an act that has reverberated far beyond the shores of Israel.

The idea of a UK memorial service started with Rabbi Hillel Athias-Robles, assistant rabbi of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue.

“We needed to come together to share our pain and hopes for the future and because of the sort of society we want to create,” he said.

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Give back Golan Heights, says minister

By Leon Symons, August 6, 2009

British Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis has called for Israel to give back the Golan Heights as part of a peace settlement with Syria.

Mr Lewis, on his first visit to the Middle East, made the call during a press conference in the Syrian capital Damascus after talks with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and his deputy.

Mr Lewis, who is Jewish and the MP for Bury South, said: “We think that there is now a very important opportunity for one of the world’s great conflicts to begin to come to an end.”

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UK seeking millions from Israeli fraudster

By Leon Symons, August 6, 2009

A jailed Israeli lawyer has failed in his attempt to prevent the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) from trying to seize millions of pounds in assets he held in several London bank accounts.

Mr Justice Foskett, sitting in the High Court in London, ruled last week that even though the money belonged to someone outside Britain, SOCA had the authority to ask the lawyer, Israel Perry, how he and his family had amassed more than £14 million.

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Father: School failed daughter over racist bullying

By Leon Symons, August 6, 2009

The father of a four-year-old girl subjected to antisemitic abuse from pupils at her infants’ school has accused the school and its education authority of trying to sweep the matter under the carpet.

The girl’s father, Nick Johnstone, claimed that Hallfield Infants and the local council, Westminster in central London, had failed to hold a proper investigation into the incidents that forced him to withdraw his daughter near the end of last term.

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Hate Shiekh’s British tour sparks outrage

By Leon Symons, August 6, 2009

The Board of Deputies has sent an angry protest to the Home Office about the UK visit of a leading Saudi Arabian cleric who has made numerous antisemitic speeches.

Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais has been on a lecture tour to mosques and shared a platform with Tony Baldry, Tory MP for Banbury, in the town last week.

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No kosher cops in ethnic police project

By Leon Symons, July 30, 2009

A pilot scheme to give ethnic victims of crime the right to ask for a police officer from their own community is unlikely to involve the Jewish community.

The scheme is currently being tested by London’s Metropolitan Police with the Sikh and Punjabi community. The police is also encouraging its staff associations — which represent minority groups, such as Muslims and Hindus — to promote the initiative within their respective communities.

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Get took five desperate years, now I'll be shunned

By Leon Symons, July 30, 2009

A strictly Orthodox woman featured in a new television programme dealing with gittin (religious divorces) has revealed that in desperation she obtained a get from a non-Orthodox religious authority.

Miriam Saleh speaks for the first time about her five-year ordeal of trying to obtain a get from her husband in the Channel 4 documentary Revelations: Divorce – Jewish Styleo be screened on Sunday.

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Divestment tops the Jews for Justice survey

By Leon Symons, July 30, 2009

The Jews for Justice for Palestinians survey sought to establish what kind of boycott its members would be ready to back. It elicited 417 responses to two sections. The first listed nine different boycotts:

- A consumer boycott of all Israeli goods
- Lobbying to achieve a full ban on the importation of Israeli products and produce
- Divestment from companies investing in Israel
- Suspension of all EU trade with Israel
- A boycott of state sponsored cultural institutions and artists in receipt of state sponsorship
- Divestment from Israeli companies

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Jews plan Israel's boycott

By Leon Symons, July 30, 2009

The JC has revealed plans developed by Jews For Justice For Palestinians (JFJFP) to cause maximum damage to Israel by extending boycotts.

At the anti-Israel organisation’s recent annual meeting, activists discussed a survey of its members which showed clear support for a comprehensive boycott. More than 400 JFJFP activists responded to the survey.

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Board stays out of export licence row

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

The Board of Deputies has resolved to stay out of any row between the Foreign Office and Israel over the decision to cancel five export licences.

It is adopting a “wait and see” strategy and will get involved only if receiving an indication from Israel that it should take up the case. The Foreign Office’s decision to ban the export of parts for Israel’s naval vessels was believed to have been prompted by a concerted campaign by pro-Palestinian groups.

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Is this man the IDF’s best British friend?

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

Speaking up for the Israel Defence Force is unlikely to win many friends — but it has turned one man into the most unlikely new star on YouTube.

Colonel Richard Kemp was the commander of British forces in Afghanistan in 2003 and even he admits he is surprised by his new-found fame.

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Board may seek law change over JFS row

By Leon Symons and Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

The Board of Deputies has launched a two-pronged strategy in the wake of the Court of Appeal’s decision that the admissions policy operated by the JFS school broke the Race Relations Act.

Deputies at Sunday’s plenary meeting in central London were told that if JFS sought leave to appeal to the House of Lords or the Supreme Court, which may take over responsibility for such matters, the Board would intervene as a “friend of the court” to give it guidance on “who is a Jew”.

The school has now decided to take such action.

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Board man urges ‘one conversion standard’

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

The senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies has called for a common standard of conversion to prevent a repeat of the JFS situation.

Jonathan Arkush, a modern Orthodox Jew who is a member of Borehamwood Synagogue, put forward the suggestion during a debate at Sunday’s Board plenary meeting in central London — and he won immediate support from president Vivian Wineman.

Mr Arkush, a barrister, was elected to the post in the May poll, the first time he has been one of the honorary officers.

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Rabbi blasts Tories over Euro allies

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

A British rabbi has stepped into the controversy over the Conservatives’ allies in the European Parliament’s new centre-right group.

Rabbi Barry Marcus of London’s Central Synagogue has called into question the appointment of Polish MEP Michal Kaminski as chair of the European Conservative and Reformist Group (ECR), which now includes 25 MEPs from Britain’s Conservatives.

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Why war-driven hate is different this time

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

The Community Security Trust report for the first six months of 2009 will send a shiver through the Anglo-Jewish community.

The report confirmed — if confirmation were needed — what the CST has maintained for some time: that antisemitic incidents rise whenever there is major violence in the Middle East.

What distinguishes these figures from previous years is that they did not return to what the CST says is “normal” until April, three months after the fighting between Israel and Hamas ended.

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Gaza war sparks worst hate wave ever recorded

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

The Community Security Trust recorded more antisemitic incidents in the first six months of 2009 than it has done in any previous entire year.

Between January and June there were 609 incidents. In the whole of 2008 there were 544. The CST has never recorded more than 600 incidents in one year, let alone six months.

The main reason for the rise was the response to Israel’s incursion into Gaza.

The 609 incidents included 77 violent assaults, compared with 45 last year. Two of these, in May, were deemed to be extremely violent attacks, which might have involved a threat to life.

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JFS: Board seeks equality bill redraft

By Leon Symons, July 20, 2009

The Board of Deputies has launched a two-pronged strategy in the wake of the Court of Appeal’s decision that the admissions policy operated by JFS broke the Race Relations Act.

Deputies at Sunday’s plenary meeting in central London were told that if JFS decides to seek leave to appeal to the House of Lords or the Supreme Court, which may be dealing with such matters, the Board will intervene as a friend of the Court to give it guidance on “who is a Jew”.

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