Leon Symons

Board plots 'buycott' to beat the boycott

By Leon Symons, October 29, 2009

It is the buycott versus the boycott — and it starts a week today.

The “buycott” is a call to Jews all over the country to buy as many Israeli products as they can.

The initiative has come from the Board of Deputies and the anti-boycott Fair Play Campaign to thwart a planned anti-Israel boycott against two major supermarket chains by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

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Police: We'll defend you against far-right extremists

By Leon Symons, October 29, 2009

Police forces across the country are strengthening their links to ethnic minority communities in the wake of the recent rise in the activities of far-right groups.

The National Communities Tension Team, part of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it was “aware of heightened tensions and concerns within Jewish communities in relation to the ongoing English and Welsh Defence League demonstrations, as well as the ongoing focus on extreme right-wing issues”.

However, it was not aware of any increase in reported antisemitic incidents.

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Yavneh pupils to make their mark at Eton

By Leon Symons, October 29, 2009

A group of pupils from Yavneh College in Borehamwood will be visiting Eton College next week for the first of what the school hopes will be regular exchanges.

The group, mainly from year-10 because the youngest Eton pupils are 13, will be taking part in a faith forum at the famous public school. They will be telling pupils from other faith schools about Judaism, what it means to be Jewish and what life is like in a Jewish school.

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Israel embassy demos: 63 charged

By Leon Symons, October 27, 2009

A total of 63 people will be appearing in court later this week on charges arising out of demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy in west London in January this year.

One person has been charged with actual bodily harm, one with handling stolen goods and almost everyone else with breaking section two of the Public Order Act, which covers violent disorder. The youngest person charged is a 12-year-old boy from Tower Hamlets.

All 63 are due to appear at West London Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and Friday of this week.

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Czech vandals are 'on the run in the UK'

By Leon Symons, October 22, 2009

Two men convicted of stealing hundreds of bronze plaques from a Holocaust memorial in the Czech Republic are believed to have fled to Britain — but their extradition is not being sought.

Libor Mirga and Petr Hricko were sentenced in absentia to four and half years and three and a half years in prison respectively at a court in Terezin last week.

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Scandal-hit financier Nicholas Levene in fraud probe

By Leon Symons, October 22, 2009

The firestorm surrounding financier and philanthropist Nicholas Levene intensified this week as allegations emerged concerning business dealings with leading Israeli sports people.

Mr Levene, 45, has been declared bankrupt and had his assets frozen after a number of legal claims against him from investors. He is also being pursued by at least one spread betting firm over gambling debts. It is understood that at the moment around £200 million is missing.

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Palestinians barred - but don’t blame Israel

By Leon Symons, October 22, 2009

When two Palestinian academics failed to reach a ground-breaking conference in London on the psychological effects of the Middle East conflict, Israel — for once — was not to blame.

Furious organisers of the conference at Birkbeck College, Sites of Conflict: Psycho-political Resistance in Palestine-Israel, held British consular officials in Jerusalem and Amman responsible for delays spanning six weeks which left the two unable to travel.

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Bloom's job case verdict

By Leon Symons, October 22, 2009

The last link with the family that established Bloom’s kosher restaurants has won an employment tribunal against Bloom’s current owner.

Jonathan Tapper had been manager at the restaurant in Golders Green and then at the branch in Edgware. He lost his job last year, prior to the Edgware restaurant closing in December.

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US taken to tribunal

By Leon Symons, October 15, 2009

The former director of education for the United Synagogue’s Agency for Jewish Education is taking the US to an employment tribunal.

Jeffrey Leader was one of a number of people made redundant at the beginning of the year in what the US dubbed a “reorganisation” of what had been regarded as its flagship education body.

The AJE had won plaudits from the highest echelons of government for its teacher-training programmes.

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Tributes to judge

By Leon Symons, October 15, 2009

Judge Israel Finestein, one of the outstanding figures of the Anglo-Jewish community in the second half of the 20th century, died on Monday. He was 88.

Judge Finestein, who retired from the bench as a deputy high court judge and a former crown court judge, had been president of the Board of Deputies from 1991 to 1994 and served on a diverse range of communal bodies. He had also been active outside the community, chairing the Mental Health Review Tribunal. He had also been a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress.

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Orthodox man jailed for sex offences

By Leon Symons, October 13, 2009

An Orthodox academic has been jailed for four months after police found dozens of images of children in his computer.

Eight years ago Dr Benjamin Yudkin, 41, of Wolvercote, Oxford, escaped a custodial sentence after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old child in Reading.

Last week Yudkin appeared for sentence at Oxford Crown Court having previously admitted three counts of possession of indecent images.

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Former Board of Deputies president dies

By Leon Symons, October 12, 2009

One of Anglo-Jewry's best known communal figures, Judge Israel Finestein, died today. He was 88.

Hull-born Judge Finestein, who retired from the bench as a deputy high court judge and a former crown court judge, was president of the Board of Deputies from 1991-1994 and served on a diverse range of communal bodies, including the Jewish Historical Society.

He had also been a vice president of the World Jewish Congress, and had been active outside the community, chairing the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

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Collins apologises for Hitler-birthday diary

By Leon Symons, October 8, 2009

The maker of one of the country’s most popular diaries has pledged that it will never again use Hitler’s birthday as an “interesting fact of the day”.

The April 20 entry in the Collins Debden 2009 diary was spotted by central London art gallery owner Helly Nahmad. But his initial complaint to the company went unanswered so this week he wrote again. The second time the company responded and has now said that the reference was not in next year’s diary and would not appear again.

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Tory calls for government to blacklist neo-Nazi group

By Leon Symons, October 8, 2009

Shadow Security Minister Baroness Neville-Jones has called on Home Secretary Alan Johnson to proscribe the extreme right-wing group Blood & Honour.

Last week the group was reported to the police for distributing racially offensive CDs which spread hatred against Jews, Asians and blacks. The Home Office confirmed that its status would be re-assessed.

Baroness Neville-Jones said: “This is a flagrant example of the kind of hate speech that should be dealt with. There is a danger that this is growing in extent and goes unchecked.

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Blood and Honour: Johnson pressed to act

By Leon Symons, October 1, 2009

Shadow security minister Baroness Neville-Jones has called on home secretary Alan Johnson to proscribe the extreme right wing group Blood & Honour.

Only last week the group was reported to the police for distributing racially offensive CDs.

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Barak offers Brown his backing

By Leon Symons, Brighton, October 1, 2009

Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak offered his support to embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a packed Labour Friends of Israel meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Tuesday night.

Mr Barak, who leads Israel’s Labour Party, praised the economic nous of Mr Brown, who was among the 500-plus MPs and conference delegates at the meeting.

He echoed the Prime Minister’s keynote speech earlier in the day by urging Labour supporters to “never give in and keep fighting to victory” in the next election.

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Miliband denounces Barak arrest threat

By Leon Symons, September 30, 2009

Foreign secretary David Miliband made it clear that the government will not back attempts by Palestinian supporters to try to have Israeli politicians arrested as war criminals.

Speaking at the Labour Friends of Israel fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Mr Miliband said: “This will never become a country where ministers of Israel are unable to come and have proper dialogue with the government of the United Kingdom.”

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Israeli breakthrough puts the boot into back problems

By Leon Symons, September 24, 2009

An invention by two Israeli doctors could bring relief to millions of Britons suffering from chronic back and knee pain.

Dr Amit Mor, 41, and 43-year-old Dr Avi Elbaz are pioneering what they call the APOS treatment — All Phases of Step Cycle. It has been brought to Britain by private healthcare provider Bupa.

Although currently available only to private patients, the doctors hope it will be soon adopted by the NHS. Just under half of British adults are said to have suffered back pain in the last year and one-in-four has experienced knee pain in the same period.

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Special interests of Charedi cops

By Leon Symons, September 24, 2009

Patrolling the Golders Green streets, Nochum Dewhurst and David Baddiel look like any other policemen on the beat.

But the helmets of the young special constables cover black kipot — they are the area’s first Charedi law officers.

SPC Dewhurst, 21, a product of Menorah Grammar School, has been a special for two years while SPC Baddiel, 27, is a recent recruit. Educated at Pardes House, he is related to his TV personality namesake.

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Anger at Irish comedian who joked 6 million Jews? I'd have killed 10 million

By Leon Symons, September 24, 2009

Award-winning Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan has apologised for a foul-mouthed rant about the Holocaust during the Irish equivalent of Glastonbury.

Tiernan was taking part in a question-and-answer session before an audience of over 400 at the Electric Picnic music and arts festival in County Laios. Asked if he had ever been accused of antisemitism, he responded: “F------ six million? I would have got 10 or 12 million out of that... F------ two at a time, they would have gone. Hold hands, get in there. Leave us your teeth and your glasses.”

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