Leon Symons

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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Heirs fight on as UK refuses to return art

By Leon Symons, July 16, 2009

The heirs of a wartime German art historian, Curt Glaser, have challenged a UK government panel’s decision not to return eight drawings once in his collection.

The drawings, said to be worth around £35,000, now hang in the Courtauld Institute in London.

Lawyers acting for the descendants of Professor Glaser have asked the Spoliation Advisory Panel (SAP) to rethink its decision and may take legal action to try to retrieve the works of art.

David Rowland, a New York lawyer representing the heirs, said the panel’s decision was contradictory.

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Northern Ireland Parades chief is Jewish woman

By Leon Symons, July 16, 2009

he new chair of Northern Ireland’s Parades Commission has been greeted with a baptism of fire — almost literally.

Rena Shepherd has claimed a double first — she is the first Jew and the first woman to head the body, which maps out the routes for Ulster’s marching season. The season reached its climax this week with the annual Twelfth of July Orange Order and Apprentice Boys’ marches.

The Parades Commission was created as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

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Calling Jews 'Nazis' may be criminalised

By Leon Symons, July 16, 2009

Parliament will be asked to consider whether the use of Nazi symbols and terms in reference to Jews, Israel and Zionism is breaking the law on incitement to racial hatred.

A new report by the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (EISCA) has highlighted the increasing use of what it terms the “Nazi card” in antisemitic discourse and has called for a number of measures to try to combat its spread.

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Redbridge synagogues renew merger talks

By Leon Symons, July 16, 2009

Ilford Synagogue and Ilford Federation Synagogue have started new talks about a possible merger.

The congregations have both suffered a drop in numbers as a result of members moving to north-west London and Hertfordshire.

Five years ago, the synagogues started short-lived merger talks after it was revealed that membership at Ilford Synagogue, in Beehive Lane, had fallen dramatically. The United synagogue had also built up a deficit of around £400,000.

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Internet racists are jailed

By Leon Symons, July 10, 2009

Two racists have become the first in Britain to be jailed for inciting racial hatred on the internet.

Simon Sheppard, 51, from Selby in north Yorkshire, was sent to prison at Leeds Crown Court for four years and 10 months, while 42-year-old Stephen Whittle, of Preston was sentenced to two years and four months.

The pair fled to America and sought political asylum last year while the jury were returning verdicts during a trial at Leeds Crown Court. But their plea was thrown out by a judge in California and they were sent back to Britain last month.

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London community launches manifesto

By Leon Symons, July 9, 2009

The aspirations and concerns of London Jewry have been collated and published in one document for the first time.

Minister for London Tessa Jowell welcomed the publication of the Towards A London Jewish Manifesto at a breakfast for the capital’s Parliamentarians on Wednesday. Although produced under the banner of the London Jewish Forum, more than 20 communal organisations have contributed to it.

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Israeli medical chief returns fire on ‘torture’

By Leon Symons, July 9, 2009

The Israeli president of the World Medical Association has challenged his main critics to put up or shut up.

He says that if they have a case against Israeli doctors whom they believe to have been complicit in the torture of Palestinians, they should lodge complaints with the police and the state’s Attorney General.

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Leading Tories join the JLC

By Leon Symons, July 9, 2009

Links between the Conservative Party and the Anglo-Jewish community were further strengthened this week as two senior Tories joined the Jewish Leadership Council.

Howard Leigh and Stanley Fink, who both act as party treasurers, have become individually nominated members of the JLC.

Two weeks ago, the JC reported how Tory leader David Cameron appeared at four different communal events in a week.

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Press TV loses key guests

By Leon Symons, July 9, 2009

Award-winning radio presenter Nick Ferrari has admitted that his decision to join the Iranian state-backed 24-hour television station Press TV “was one of the dimmest career decisions of my life”.

Mr Ferrari was one of a number of British journalists who presented programmes on the channel — until last week, when he quit in protest at the Iranian government’s response to demonstrations against its general election result.

The LBC morning show presenter compered last year’s 60th anniversary tribute to Israel in Trafalgar Square.

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Scottish TUC in ‘Zionist lobby’ row

By Leon Symons, July 9, 2009

A senior figure in the Scottish Trades Union Congress has sparked a row with an attack on a new group that brings together Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists.

STUC assistant general secretary Mary Senior told a meeting of the International Solidarity Movement in Paris that Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (Tulip) “appears to be the creation of the British-led organisation Trade Union Friends of Israel. We must never underestimate the Zionist lobby. And we must be prepared to stand up to their accusations of antisemitism.”

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New rights body for survivors

By Leon Symons, July 2, 2009

A new body has been set up to oversee the work of the Holocaust Era Assets Conference, which restores Shoah assets to their owners.

The European Shoah Legacy Institute will act as a forum for those representing Holocaust survivors and other victims of the Nazis. It will also be involved in the fight against racism, xenophobia and antisemitism in Europe and worldwide.

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I saw Rachel Stevens restaurant gunman

By Leon Symons, July 2, 2009

A Jewish man has spoken of his horror at seeing a gunman about to fire shots into the St John’s Wood restaurant where actress and singer Rachel Stevens was dining last Friday evening.

Two people, a 31-year-old black man — apparently the intended target of the attack — and a 15-year-old white youth, were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds, which were said not to be serious. The man was shot in the leg and the youth in the arm.

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New Shoah archive opens

By Leon Symons, July 2, 2009

The testimonies of 150 Holocaust survivors and refugees who fled to Britain from Nazi Europe have been brought together in a groundbreaking audio-visual archive.

“Refugee Voices” has been organised and produced by the Association of Jewish Refugees, which provides social and welfare services to Holocaust victims living in Britain.

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Four-year-old is abused by school racists

By Leon Symons, July 2, 2009

A four-year-old girl has been withdrawn from a West London infants’ school after being subjected to repeated antisemitic remarks by other pupils.

Her father, journalist Nick Johnstone, has accused the head teacher, Philip Eaton, of failing to deal with his complaints. He has since complained to the local education authority about Mr Eaton and has also reported the matter to police and his MP, Mark Field.

In an email to Mr Johnstone, the head admitted that both he and the school “have let your family down”.

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Company withdraws "Rothschild" leaflet

By Leon Symons, July 1, 2009

A financial offer e-mailed to 80,000 people has been withdrawn by the company that published it after a complaint about the way it referred to the Rothschild banking family.

The offer, distributed by Fleet Street Publications, referred to the 239-year-old “Rothschild Recession Code” with a history of the family inferring that it secretly controlled world finance.

The idea behind the e-mail shot was to offer investors the chance to buy the same shares as the Rothschilds.

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Jewish Care’s £3.6m dinner

By Leon Symons, June 25, 2009

A star attraction in Conservative leader David Cameron helped Jewish Care to raise a record £3.6 million from its annual dinner at Grosvenor House in London’s Mayfair on Monday night.

The total raised by the 1,150 guests outstripped last year’s proceeds by £100,000, to the delight of campaign chairman Steven Lewis. “The ability of our supporters to be so generous in recognising how vital our work is, in what is clearly a very tough year, was truly outstanding,” he said.

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Stop boycotting, Miliband tells unions

By Leon Symons, June 25, 2009

The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has expressed dismay that Israel boycotts are being discussed by trade union congresses and conferences.

He said this week: “Ivan Lewis, minister of state responsible for the Middle East, is meeting representatives of leading British unions in order to make clear the government’s firm belief that calls for boycotts of Israel cannot and do not contribute to peace.

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UK-Hizbollah talks spark Israeli ire

By Leon Symons, June 25, 2009

The first official meeting between a senior British diplomat and a representative of Hizbollah has taken place in Lebanon, drawing a sharp rebuke from Israel.

Britain’s ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, met Lebanese MP Mohammed Raad in Beirut last Thursday.

British foreign policy allows cautious contact with people Britain considers to be in the political wing of the organisation and not involved in violence.

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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.

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