Leon Symons

‘Non-Jews will fill vacancies’

By Leon Symons, July 17, 2008

Orthodox Jewish schools will have to admit non-Jewish pupils within the next five years to fill empty places, according to the first full report of the Commission On Jewish Schools, which is published today.

The report finds much to celebrate in Jewish education, notably a surge in popularity that will see primary and secondary school pupil numbers rise by 10 per cent next year. However, it warns that both schools and the community should prepare for the inevitable.

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Father told he can challenge JFS ruling

By Leon Symons, July 17, 2008

The father who was refused a judicial review of the admissions policy of JFS by a High Court judge has been told he can appeal against the decision.

Mr Justice Munby gave the man known as E — against whom he ruled two weeks ago in a 72-page judgment — permission to challenge his ruling and take his fight to win a place for his 11-year-old son at the Kenton school to the Court of Appeal.

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Racist who fled hate trial caught in America

By Leon Symons, July 17, 2008

A racist who fled the country after being convicted of five charges of publishing racially inflammatory material has been apprehended in America.

Stephen Whittle, 41, of Preston, Lancs, had written five offensive articles under the pen-name Luke O’Farrell, which were published on the internet.

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Father vows to fight on against JFS entry rules

By Leon Symons, July 10, 2008

Judge rules that top school’s admission policy does not break race-relations laws

A father who has been refused a judicial review of the admissions policy of JFS, Europe’s biggest Jewish school, has sought permission to appeal.

Last week, in a 72-page written judgement, Mr Justice Munby cleared JFS of the accusation that its admissions policy broke race laws both directly and indirectly. He said the school’s policy was based on religious and not racial or ethnic grounds.

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JFS admissions battle: the fallout

By Leon Symons, July 10, 2008

For months, Europe’s biggest Jewish school has been waiting for a court ruling that could affect its very ethos. Last week, JFS staff, governors and pupils — not to mention their parents — finally learned what a High Court judge thought of a claim that its admissions policy racially discriminated against the son of a convert.

The judge, Mr Justice Munby, rejected the claim in a case which has implications both in and out of the community — and which is not over yet.

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Oxford ‘did not flout race laws’ for Irving

By Leon Symons, July 10, 2008

Oxford University has denied accusations by Baroness Deech that it ignored laws on race hate and freedom of speech in allowing the Oxford Union to host Holocaust-denier David Irving and BNP leader Nick Griffin last November.

Lady Deech, a former Oxford chair of admissions, told the Lords that she had complained to the university authorities that they had not acted to stop the debating society inviting Griffin and Irving to take part in the event, which was severely disrupted by demonstrators.

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Union blocks boycott move

By Leon Symons, July 4, 2008

The “Boycott Israel” campaign has been dealt a significant blow after the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ (RMT) annual meeting overturned its pro-boycott policy.

More than two-thirds of the delegates voted in favour of a tough-talking but balanced resolution that not only condemned violence and racism on both sides, but also insisted that: “The Hamas Charter is a virulently antisemitic document that exhorts the killing of Jews and subordinates all social and human rights to Islam.”

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Mystery as butcher withdraws cooked meats

By Leon Symons, July 4, 2008

A leading North-West London butcher has been forced to withdraw cooked meats from its shelves for several weeks, but the reason remains unclear.

The Meat Hygiene Service, part of the government’s Food Standards Agency, issued a remedial-action notice to the Kosher Delicatessen chain, which has shops in Temple Fortune, Golders Green and Edgware and a production factory in Cricklewood. As a result, thousands of pounds worth of cooked meats were cleared from its shelves.

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Sunshine, speeches and a salute to solidarity

By Leon Symons, July 4, 2008

The streets of central London and Manchester were awash with blue and white on Sunday as the community turned out in force to mark Israel’s 60th birthday.

Police did not formally issue crowd figures, but organisers claimed that up to 40,000 people turned out in London for a parade and Trafalgar Square rally, with more than 6,000 at the Manchester parade and party.

In London, unofficial police sources estimated that there were around 8,000 people in Trafalgar Square at any one time, and that 6,000 people joined the carnival parade.

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Sunshine, speeches and a salute to solidarity

By Leon Symons, June 30, 2008

The streets of central London and Manchester were awash with blue and white on Sunday as the community turned out in force to mark Israel’s 60th birthday.

Police did not formally issue crowd figures, but organisers claimed that up to 40,000 people turned out in London for a parade and Trafalgar Square rally, with more than 6,000 at the Manchester parade and party.

In London, unofficial police sources estimated that there were around 8,000 people in Trafalgar Square at any one time, and that 6,000 people joined the carnival parade.

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Men who ‘conned’ two shuls hunted by police

By Leon Symons, June 27, 2008

Police in London are searching for two alleged Israeli conmen who are said have obtained thousands of pounds in “loans” from gullible synagogue members.

The two, saying they were an uncle and nephew, are said to have asked for and received more than £8,000 in loans from members of one synagogue and smaller amounts from another. Although they returned some of the money, they have since disappeared and are believed to have left behind unpaid bills at the Langham Hilton Hotel in London’s West End, where it is understood they had been staying since the end of March.

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Parades expect massive turnout

By Leon Symons, June 27, 2008

The Community Security Trust will mount what is thought to be its biggest-ever operation on Sunday to ensure that two Salute to Israel parades in London and Manchester pass without incident.

Around 500 volunteers will join police officers on the streets of London to shadow 25 floats and 29 marching groups, representing a wide range of communal organisations.

A similar turnout is expected at a parade and rally due to take place in Manchester’s Heaton Park.

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Charedi youth beaten unconscious by teen gang

By Leon Symons, June 19, 2008

A teenage boy was attacked and beaten unconscious by a gang of up to eight youths while on his way to his home in North London on Sunday afternoon.

The gang, thought to be aged between 10 and 14, then ran off with his kippah and tefillin, leaving the 15-year-old unconscious on the pavement, with bruises around his eye and nose, and bleeding from a cut lip.

The youth, who lives in Stamford Hill, was taken to Homerton Hospital by the Hatzolah ambulance service and was kept in overnight for observation.

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Ex-president tells UK event of 'shame' at Israel sleaze

By Leon Symons, June 19, 2008

A former Israeli president has said he is ashamed of the corruption scandal engulfing his country’s politics.

Yitzhak Navon, who held office from 1978 to 1983, said: “I feel ashamed at what is happening, but my consolation is that there is no cover-up. Whatever rank or position someone holds, they are interrogated if under suspicion. If they are guilty, they will be punished and this shows democracy works.”

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MSPs clash over Auschwitz trips

By Leon Symons, June 12, 2008

Members of the Scottish Parliament have clashed for the second time in a month over funding for school trips to Auschwitz. 

In May, Labour MSPs attacked the ruling Scottish National Party and the Tories for forcing through a decision that individual institutions should decide for themselves how to spend £150,000 given to Scottish schools by Westminster.

The decision meant the money was not ring-fenced for sending pupils on visits to Auschwitz concentration camp, as it has been in England.

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Far-right’s first lady goes public on Shoah-denial

By Leon Symons, June 12, 2008

An attempt by a woman described as “one of the leaders of the extreme right” to justify her support for Holocaust deniers and Iran has been condemned by anti-fascist commentators.

Lady Renouf, a close friend of David Irving, has written to the JC in response to an article by columnist David Toube two weeks ago. Mr Toube criticised Lady Renouf’s support for disgraced academic Nicholas Kollerstrom, dismissed in April as an honorary fellow of University College London for publishing a paper claiming the gas chambers of Auschwitz never existed.

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BBC caught in row over payment to academic who denies gas chambers

By Leon Symons, June 12, 2008

A disgraced academic sacked as an honorary fellow by a London university for claiming that the gas chambers of Auschwitz never existed is to have his views questioned in a BBC television programme.


Disgraced academic Nicholas Kollerstrom

Nicholas Kollerstrom was this week helping to make an edition of the BBC2 programme The Conspiracy Files when he became embroiled in a row over whether or not he was being paid for his participation.

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FCO to host antisemitism conference

By Leon Symons, June 12, 2008

The first conference bringing together parliamentarians from all over the world who lead the fight against antisemitism will be held in London next February, co-hosted by the Foreign Office.

The other co-host will be the newly formed Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). Sessions of the conference will be held at the Houses of Parliament and the Foreign Office.

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Major union rejects Israel boycott

By Leon Symons, June 12, 2008

A decision by Britain’s third-largest union not to adopt an anti-Israel motion at its congress in Plymouth on Monday has been welcomed by the Stop The Boycott campaign.

The GMB general union debated a motion on statehood for Palestine that also made mention of rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza.

Although at least one region wanted to harden the wording, delegates ultimately decided to steer clear of a motion that called for any boycott.

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Rabbis slam school Kabbalah classes

By Leon Symons, June 12, 2008

Two Orthodox rabbis have expressed grave concerns and called for government intervention after it emerged that a charity linked to the controversial Kabbalah Centre has been establishing a foothold in a number of UK primary and secondary schools.

After the JC made inquiries at one Catholic school, Westminster’s St Vincent de Paul, it suspended lessons run by workers from the charity, Spirituality For Kids (SFK).

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