Leon Symons

Faith work adopted by Europe

By Leon Symons, June 13, 2008

A Jewish-inspired project to integrate faith and ethnic minorities through schools and youth programmes is to be adopted by the European Commission.

Representatives from all 27 EU member states participated in a two-day conference in Belfast last week, where they were briefed on the Shared Futures scheme, begun in Britain by the Board of Deputies and the Pears Foundation.

More..

MSPs clash over Auschwitz trips

By Leon Symons, June 13, 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.

More..

Developer in kosher revival

By Leon Symons, June 6, 2008

A property developer has undertaken a mission to bring kosher food back to South Manchester.

David Jebreel owns a non-kosher restaurant in the area that has closed down. Now he is seeking a tenant who will turn it into a kosher restaurant.

“There is a big Jewish community but there is nowhere for them to eat kosher. If people want to eat in a kosher restaurant, they have to travel up to 20 miles to north Manchester,” he said.

More..

Butchers’ fees cut by 10pc

By Leon Symons, June 6, 2008

Surprise cuts in fees paid by butchers of around 10 per cent per kilo on lamb and beef have been announced by the London Board for Shechita.

The cuts, which came into effect on Tuesday, have been introduced to help butchers facing spiralling wholesale prices, in order to limit what they then charge consumers. They have been welcomed by Jacky Lipowicz, chairman of the Licensed Kosher Meat Traders’ Association, the butchers’ “union”.



Prices ought to be limited after new fee cuts

More..

Forum gains a chief exec

By Leon Symons, June 6, 2008

The London Jewish Forum has poached a senior Board of Deputies administrator to be its first paid official.

Alex Goldberg, currently director of the Board’s community-issues division, has been appointed as the first executive director of the LJF and will take up the post later in the year.

LJF chairman Adrian Cohen said: “This marks a major step in the development of the forum. Alex brings with him enormous relevant experience in areas of community development and social cohesion that will enable us to advance our work in London.”

More..

Academic union could face legal action on ‘backdoor boycott’

By Leon Symons, June 6, 2008

The University and College Union will almost certainly face legal action if its executive decides to turn into policy the “back-door boycott” motion on Israel passed at its congress last week.

Senior lawyer Anthony Julius, acting on behalf of what he called a “growing number” of Jewish and non-Jewish UCU members, has written to UCU general secretary Sally Hunt setting out four areas where he said the union could be challenged legally. He argued that:

1) The motion, despite the union’s denials, is a boycott motion;

2) It is antisemitic;

More..

Board challenge on terror

By Leon Symons, June 6, 2008

Three members of a Jewish human-rights organisation have accused the Board of Deputies of misusing its claim to speak for the Jewish community.

Richard Kuper, newly elected chair of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, and two colleagues, Professor Irene Bruegel and Murray Glickman, have complained about a submission to the Home Office last August by the Board and the Community Security Trust on the Counter Terrorism Bill 2007.

More..

Refugees to get a new voice

By Leon Symons, June 6, 2008

Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries in fear for their lives will be given a new voice at a forthcoming conference in London.

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) has until now been a loose part of the American-based Centre for
Middle East Peace.

That will change at a three-day founding congress in London that will see JJAC create its own elected leadership and infrastructure.

More..

Yavneh 'outstanding', says Ofsted

By Leon Symons, June 6, 2008

Anglo-Jewry’s newest secondary school has received the highest marks possible ratings in its first Ofsted inspection.

Yavneh College in Borehamwood was awarded an outstanding grade in almost every area. The inspection team observed that what had been achieved in five terms was “remarkable”.

Overall, they found Yavneh’s “leadership and management outstanding” and “standards of work exceptionally high”. The curriculum and spiritual, moral, social and cultural aspects of the school were also ranked as outstanding.

More..

Choir delving deep into musical past

By Leon Symons, June 6, 2008

Ten centuries of Jewish music were in play as the second year of the Zemel Choir’s “Celebrate With Song” got under way in Central London on Sunday.

Participants grappled with scores from early Hebrew plainsong to baroque cantatas in intermediate and advanced workshop groups. Each is learning several pieces that will be performed in a concert also featuring the JFS and Pandemonium choirs at St John’s, in Smith Square, Westminster, on June 15.

More..

Boycotters win new motion

By Leon Symons, May 30, 2008

The next time an Israeli academic answers the phone and hears an English voice, there may be a different type of lecture in store.

“What are you doing to help Palestinian academics and universities? What action have you taken to protest about the occupation of Palestinian land? Have you served in the Israel Defence Force?”

More..

Battle begins as Nazis drop in for a beer

By Leon Symons, May 30, 2008

Manchester Jewish leaders have accused a local organisation of breaking a promise by allowing participants in a 1940s weekend to wear Nazi uniforms.

Bolton Street station in Bury, an area with a large Jewish community, was turned by the East Lancashire Railway society into a re-creation of a 1940s war zone at the weekend, with British “Tommies” rubbing shoulders with “Yanks” and “Germans”.

More..

Rape charges denied

By Leon Symons, May 30, 2008

An Israeli living in Golders Green appeared at Harrow Crown Court on Wednesday facing two counts of attempted rape and one of sexual assault.

Shay Kaldron, 32, pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual assault. He did not enter a plea for the two counts of attempted rape as an application to have them dismissed will be heard next month.

More..

Qaradawi predicts a Muslim apocalypse

By Leon Symons, May 30, 2008

The unexpurgated views of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi about Israel, Jews, Zionism and Palestine have been revealed for the first time in an English translation of a book he wrote in Arabic four years ago.

In a compilation of 14 rulings on various aspects of the Middle East conflict called Fatawa on Palestine, or “Rulings on Palestine”, the Islamic scholar feted by former London Mayor Ken Livingstone predicts an apocalyptic final battle between all Jews and all Muslims that would presage the day of judgement.

Mr Qaradawi believes that:

More..

Driven duo take the vintage route to new life in Israel

By Leon Symons, May 30, 2008

Yaniv Cohen and Ali Singer are making aliyah in style by driving a 1948 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith saloon to their new homeland as part of the JNF’s London-Jerusalem car rally. But the pair’s epic journey was almost over before it had begun.

Mr Singer, a 28-year-old Londoner, was responsible for getting the vehicle to the starting line.

But unaccustomed to the fuelling requirements of a vintage Rolls-Royce, he ran out of petrol on the way to the start and only just made it to the ferry in Dover with the 25 other entrants.

More..

Academics’ motion seen as a boycott by the back door

By Leon Symons, May 30, 2008

The University and College Union lived up to expectations on Wednesday by carrying a motion at its annual conference in Manchester that has been challenged as an attempt to reintroduce a boycott of Israeli academics by the back door.

Tom Hickey, the philosophy lecturer from the University of Brighton behind the motion, said the UCU was “urging people to reflect on whether it was appropriate for them to maintain their links with Israeli institutions”.

More..

UK says it is ready to pull out of ‘Durban II’ conference

By Leon Symons, May 23, 2008

Britain would pull out of the so-called “Durban II” conference on racism if it descends into another round of attacks on Israel and thinly veiled antisemitism.

Europe Minister Jim Murphy told MPs that while Britain would continue to work towards making the conference a success, he promised that a repeat of the blatant bias of the conference in 2001 would not be tolerated.

The first conference — the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Tolerance, to give its official title — was held in Durban in 2001.

More..

MPs slam universities over race-hate

By Leon Symons, May 23, 2008

Antisemitism on campus and the internet were the main targets during a debate on antisemitism in the main chamber of the House of Commons last week.

MPs from all sides of the House took the chance to express their views and comment on the government’s performance in acting on the recommendations of the Parliamentary All-Party Antisemitism report.

An international conference on antisemitism, supported by the Foreign Office, is to be held in London in February next year.

More..

What baby boom? Board disputes birth statistics for UK Jews

By Leon Symons, May 23, 2008

A claim by a University of Manchester researcher that Britain’s Jewish population is growing for the first time since the Second World War has been questioned by the Board of Deputies.

Yaakov Wise, of the University’s Jewish-studies department, claimed that the population was 275,000 in 2005, but had increased to 280,000 by 2008. He said the main factor was the steady increase in births in the strictly Orthodox community.

More..

Antisemitic attackers burn man's property in Ireland

By Leon Symons, May 23, 2008

A spate of attacks against a businessman has culminated in antisemitic graffiti being daubed on the wall of his home in a village in County Galway.

Herb Meyer’s car had been set alight twice and now his wall has been sprayed with the words “Jew Go Home” alongside the word “Jew” and a swastika.

German-born Mr Meyer, who lives in the village of Tuam with his partner Armida Walsh, had been dividing his time between the Irish house and his main home in London.

More..