Marcus Dysch

Playwright knighted in Honours List

By Marcus Dysch, June 12, 2010

A playwright, an educational philanthropist and a nursery headteacher are among those recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

South African-born screenwriter Ronald Harwood is knighted for services to drama. In 2003, he won an Oscar for his work on the Holocaust-themed film, The Pianist. The 75-year-old, previously nominated for his play The Dresser, which was later filmed, was born in Cape Town and came to London in 1951 to pursue a career in theatre, changing his name from Horwitz to Harwood.


Big Brother - Middle East style

By Marcus Dysch, June 11, 2010

According to reports in today’s newspapers, a special version of Big Brother is to be broadcast in France.

Twelve 18-year-old Israelis and Palestinians will be shut in a house in Marseille for three weeks during August…and will be asked to agree on a solution to the conflict.

The producer of the show, Mohamed Ulad, said the project would use a “popular format” to cover a “serious subject”.

Hmm, I can see how this might turn out...

“This is Big Brother, will Shimon please stop building in the east side of the garden?”


BBC botches Big Questions Gaza programme

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

The BBC was unable to broadcast a programme in which a Gaza flotilla participant was forced to defend himself against allegations of Holocaust denial because of transmission problems.

Ismail Patel, chairman of the Leicester-based Friends of Al Aqsa group, appeared on Sunday's episode of The Big Questions to discuss the topic "Is Israel acting immorally?".

Among those defending Israel were Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Federation, Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet and Shoah survivor Martin Stern.


The Olympic kippah for Jewish volunteers

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

Volunteers at the London 2012 Olympic Games will be offered the chance to wear an "Olympic kippah" as part of their uniform.

The specially-designed yarmulke will form part of the official attire for Jewish members of the 70,000-strong volunteering team.

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has held discussions with representatives of the Jewish community to discuss provisions, including kosher food, which will be needed for Jewish competitors and visitors to the capital.


Stamford Hill brothel shutdown

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

A suspected brothel next door to a major Jewish community centre has been closed by police following complaints from neighbouring residents.

The sex den was next to Lubavitch UK's headquarters, at the heart of the community in Stamford Hill, north London.

Officers from the Met's Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command and Hackney borough police boarded up the building last Friday after obtaining a closure order, using new legislation which makes it a criminal offence for anyone to enter the property.


Students can 'avert antisemitic backlash'

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

The Coexistence Trust, which tackles Islamophobia and antisemitism, is hoping its campus ambassadors programme will promote calm among British-based students amid tension in the Middle East.

The trust is recruiting 12 students to work to maintain good relations between communities on campuses.

They will encourage "respect, empowerment and change" at universities in Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds, London, Nottingham and Leicester.

Last week's Gaza flotilla incident led the Community Security Trust to warn of a possible backlash against Jews, including students.


Kosher cookery studies take off in New York

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

Do you watch the likes of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay from behind the sofa, wishing for once they would ditch the shrimps and bacon and prepare a nice kosher dinner?

Well worry not, New York's Centre for Kosher Culinary Arts is offering students courses in preparing fully kosher

More than 125 students have taken part over the past two years. Devorah-Leah Benson, 19, from Ilford, Essex, was one of them.


All's fair for sixth-formers

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

UJS' sixth form student fair takes place on June 20.

A-level pupils will have the opportunity to meet JSoc members from around the country, learn about life for Jewish students on campus, and get specialist advice on welfare and accommodation.

The JC-sponsored event will be in Borehamwood.

For more details email or call 020 7424 3299.


Bands battle? Go, go, go

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

Amy Winehouse's father Mitch will be on the judging panel at a battle of the bands night organised by Hillel's Past and Pending committee.

Acoustica II will take place at the Paradise club in Notting Hill, west London, on June 17.

Mr Winehouse will be joined by record company executives as they choose the top performers on the night.

Tickets are £15/£12. Visit


Jewish flotilla plans to break Gaza blockade

By Marcus Dysch, June 10, 2010

Community representatives have reacted with outrage to the news that an all-Jewish flotilla of anti-Israel campaigners is planning to sail to Gaza next month, pledging to break the blockade.

The flotilla, to be captained by the British sailor, Glyn Secker of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, will sail under the auspices of European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP), an umbrella organisation of groups from 10 countries,

Mr Secker said it would show that "not all Jews support Israel" and would "say emphatically: not in our name".


Thousands march against Israel

By Marcus Dysch, June 7, 2010

Thousands of anti-Israel demonstrators marched from Downing Street to the Israeli Embassy in west London on Saturday.

They were protesting against Israel’s action against the Gaza flotilla last week, when IDF commandos boarded the lead ship.

The “emergency national demonstration” was organised by groups including the Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, British Muslim Initiative, CND, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Viva Palestina and Palestinian Forum of Britain.


EDL step up their Jewish recruitment

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

The English Defence League, the extreme right-wing anti-Islamic-fundamentalism group, has launched a "Jewish division", encouraging members of the community to "lead the counter-Jihad fight in England".

It has signed up hundreds of followers on Facebook since the launch last week. Supporters include an ex-Community Security Trust volunteer who claims "a lot of Jewish guys want to get stuck in".


Jewish students' Gucci fashion event

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

Chanel, Valentino, Dior, Gucci – they are some of the biggest names in fashion, more often associated with London, New York and Paris, but later this month they will feature at a charity event run by three Jewish students in Oxford.

The Red Dress Couture Ball, organised by Leo Seigal, Bryan Baum and Samantha Friedmann, is supported by leading industry figures including Harold Tillman, head of the British Fashion Council.


Records on menu

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

Students in Nottingham have helped their regional chaplains Rabbi Yochanan Pereira and his wife Jodie set a new personal best for serving meals.

The couple provided almost 250 meals in the week of Shavuot.

Sushi, lasagne, pizza and chocolate brownie cheesecake proved the most popular choices with diners.

The Pereiras erected a marquee in their garden for the
following Shabbat


New York tour inspires European group

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

The European Centre for Jewish Students ran its first trans-Atlantic trip with a five-day educational tour to New York.

More than 150 students from 22 European countries took part, learning about Jewish life in the Big Apple.

They met Sarri Singer, daughter of New Jersey Senator Robert Singer. She spoke of her experience of surviving a terrorist attack in Israel and how living under constant threat affects a society.

Rabbi Ari Hier from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre presented the film Against the Tide, documenting American reactions to the Holocaust.


Flotilla girl tells of flying bullets

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

One of the first Gaza flotilla activists to return to Britain has said she “can’t remember what happened first” when Israeli commandos boarded her boat, but described “hearing bullets flying”.

Sarah Colborne, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s director of campaigns, described the scenes as Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara ship which was leading the flotilla.


Israel advocates get media training amid international criticism

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

Hopeful Israel advocates took part in a media training course with a renowned communications expert — as the Gaza flotilla deaths brought an avalanche of criticism against the Jewish state.

Linda Lovitch, who counts leading Israel spokesman Mark Regev among her former students, led the two-day exercise in London on behalf of the Zionist Federation.

After learning on Sunday the importance of being polite, knowing your audience and having facts at your fingertips, the 14 participants, including students and businessmen, were faced just 24 hours later with a real-time case study.


British Army expert: "Blame flotilla for deaths"

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

The former commander of British forces in Afghanistan has said Israeli troops should not be blamed for the deaths of activists on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

Speaking on behalf of the Israel Project, an international non-profit education organisation, Colonel Richard Kemp said: “We should not forget that none of these deaths would have occurred if the people on the ships had not attacked the Israelis.

“It’s wrong to blame the Israeli soldiers for the deaths. The flotilla must shoulder the blame for this.”


Tel Aviv, where's that?

By Marcus Dysch, May 31, 2010

I went for a few drinks last night with a group of old school friends I hadn’t seen for the best part of ten years.

At one point the conversation turned to comparing suntans. One friend had gained hers thanks to a week at Hurghada in Egypt. Mine was courtesy of a week in Tel Aviv.

“Oh, Tel Aviv,” she said. “Where is that?”

“Israel,” I replied.

“Oh, ok.”

The idea that this was somewhere she could have travelled on Easyjet for the same price as a week in Magaluf or her trip to Egypt would no doubt have brought an equally bemused look to her face.


UJS top team is ready for action

By Marcus Dysch, May 27, 2010

Alex Dwek, chairman-elect of the Union of Jewish Students, has put the final touches to his new team.

Since winning last year's election, Alex has been working to form a new administration to work alongside him when he takes over the top job in Jewish student politics in mid-July.

Together with outgoing chair Adam Pike, the 22-year-old has been interviewing candidates for a number of roles.

Marking its position as one of the most progressive community organisations, all of the society's senior management positions, other than chair, will be held by women.