Marcus Dysch

Gay couples may be able to wed in synagogue

By Marcus Dysch, February 17, 2011

Gay couples may soon be able to marry legally in both Reform and Liberal synagogues under proposed changes to marriage laws.

Same-sex couples are expected to be given the right to hold legal civil
partnership ceremonies in places of worship.

The move would enable non-Orthodox communities to hold a wedding under a chuppah, and immediately follow it with a civil ceremony in a shul.

Liberal Judaism, Quakers and gay rights groups, led the pressure on the government to offer greater equality.

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Ladbrokes founder Cyril Stein dies

By Marcus Dysch, February 16, 2011

Philanthropist Cyril Stein, the former chairman of the Ladbrokes betting company, has died.

Mr Stein was a key fundraiser and supporter of the JNF and was UJIA honorary vice-president.

He was in his early 80s and died in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Mr Stein founded the Ladbroke betting business and floated it on the London Stock Exchange in 1967. At the time it was worth £1 million.

When he left the company in 1994 it was valued at around £2 billion. His personal wealth was estimated at £60m in 2008.

Mr Stein was chair of the JNF’s £10m project to redevelop the Negev.

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The EDL's most significant Jewish recruit?

By Marcus Dysch, February 10, 2011

Regular readers will know that in recent months we have covered the English Defence League’s attempts to attract Jewish supporters to its cause .

Jewish communal groups such as the Board of Deputies and Community Security Trust have repeatedly warned of the dangers the extreme right-wing anti-Islam group pose, not only to British Muslims but also British Jews.

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Time to burst the Birmingham bubble?

By Marcus Dysch, February 10, 2011

Wandering around campus, a student is likely to bump into a few acquaintances - coursemates, Facebook friends, perhaps the peculiar guy from first year whose name they can't remember.

But for Birmingham's Jewish student population "a few" doesn't cover it. Gila Gordan said: "There are thousands of students here but I bump into Jewish people I know absolutely everywhere. My non-Jewish friends ask how I know them all."

For 19-year-old Gila, who chose to study in Birmingham for the "full experience of a Jewish social life", the situation is not a problem.

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Campus notebook - Purim in Spain

By Marcus Dysch, February 10, 2011

Jewish identity in the 21st century was the topic for debate when historian Yaakov Wise, of Manchester University's Centre for Jewish Studies, visited Liverpool.More than 30 students attended Dr Wise's discussion, hosted by Rabbi Shmuli Brown, director of Chabad of Liverpool Universities.

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UJS lobbyists deliver concerns to Westminster

By Marcus Dysch, February 10, 2011

Students from around the country united to call on the government and universities to do more to tackle hate speech on campuses.

More than 100 students attended the Union of Jewish Students' annual lobby day at Parliament last week.

John Mann MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, addressed lobbyists.

Students met their constituency MPs and encouraged them to pressure Universities Minister David Willetts and vice-chancellors to deal more effectively with extremism on campus.

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All aboard for trips to 'you know where'

By Marcus Dysch, February 4, 2011

A travel firm has admitted that its advert for a tour of Israel fails to mention the country's name because it wanted to "avoid upsetting anyone".

Riviera Travel runs an eight-day trip to sample the "enduring appeal of Jerusalem, Galilee and the Dead Sea".

Michael Wright, Riviera's managing director, said Israel had been omitted due to the "overwhelming desire to avoid upsetting anyone". He added: "We are just tour operators."

He said the company had taken a lead from the Advertising Standards Authority, which banned an advert describing the Western Wall as part of Israel.

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Anti-Israel protesters clash with Israel's top Bedouin diplomat

By Marcus Dysch, February 4, 2011

University security officers were called to protect the most senior Muslim in the Israeli Foreign Ministry when pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted his appearance at a British campus.

Diplomat Ismail Khaldi, a Galilee Bedouin, had just started to speak at Edinburgh University on Wednesday evening when demonstrators began chanting and surrounded him.

The university’s International Relations Society had earlier pulled out of the event, saying the invitation to Mr Khaldi was “unjust to the Palestinian people who live under an apartheid regime”.

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Ambassadors will improve unity

By Marcus Dysch, February 3, 2011

What do a part-time imam, a martial arts enthusiast and a potential Olympic rower have in common?

They are all starting work as campus ambassadors for the Coexistence Trust, combating antisemitism and Islamophobia at universities across the country.

The one-year leadership programme for first and second year Jewish and Muslim students was launched at the House of Lords last week.

Working on a dozen campuses, the ambassadors will engage with students from all religious backgrounds to develop social action projects, explore common links, and promote positive interfaith work.

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Government fails to act on campus

By Marcus Dysch, February 3, 2011

The government department responsible for universities has admitted having no recent discussions with higher education authorities over campus invitations to hate speakers.

The revelation came in a written response to a parliamentary question tabled by Lord Beecham. He had asked what representations had been made to university authorities about invitations to speakers with a history of promoting antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism on campus.

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Pro-Israel activists lobby MPs

By Marcus Dysch, February 3, 2011

More than 300 pro-Israel activists met their MPs to voice concerns during the Zionist Federation's annual Parliamentary lobby day.

They expressed their fears over rising extremism on campuses and attacks on Christian communities in the Middle East during sessions with parliamentarians last week.

A training session for lobbyists was led by ZF president Eric Moonman and Jacob Vince of Christian Friends of Israel.

Around 100 MPs, including Sir Alan Beith, Louise Ellman, Lee Scott, Theresa Villiers and Luciana Berger, later met constituents for private meetings.

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NUS president subjected to antisemitic abuse

By Marcus Dysch, January 31, 2011

The president of the National Union of Students (NUS) was the target of antisemitic abuse as he attempted to speak at a student fees protest.

Aaron Porter, who is not Jewish, was escorted away from the demonstration in Manchester last Saturday as protesters chanted “Tory Jew scum”.

The Union of Jewish Students has condemned the abuse, which is thought to have been started by a group of five to 10 protesters before others joined in.

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Campus extremism - Radio 4 'Sunday'

By Marcus Dysch, January 30, 2011

This morning I made a brief appearance on Radio 4’s Sunday show as part of a discussion on campus extremism – a topic I have written about here many times before.

The BBC’s Trevor Barnes investigated the rise of extremism and antisemitism at UK universities and spoke to students at the launch of the Coexistence Trust’s Campus Ambassadors scheme last Wednesday.

To listen to the report click here, and scroll to around 30 minutes.

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Israel activists raise concerns with MPs

By Marcus Dysch, January 27, 2011

More than 300 pro-Israel activists met their MPs to voice concerns during the Zionist Federation’s annual Parliamentary lobby day.

They expressed their fears over rising extremism on campuses and the existence of a Hamas-related centre in London during sessions with Parliamentarians on Wednesday.

A training session for lobbyists was led by ZF president Eric Moonman and Jacob Vince of Christian Friends of Israel.

Around 100 MPs, including Sir Alan Beith, Louise Ellman, Lee Scott, Theresa Villiers and Luciana Berger, later met constituents for private meetings.

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Gaza images 'cast Israel in wrong light'

By Marcus Dysch, January 27, 2011

An exhibition featuring graphic images from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been accused of "fanning the flames of antisemitism".

Kai Wiedenhöfer's The Book of Destruction - named after an article about a list of Gaza's damaged buildings - shows Palestinians who were severely injured during Operation Cast Lead.

There are photos of people who lost limbs, as well as buildings flattened in the Gaza Strip, but none of Israelis or damage from Hamas rocket fire.

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Palestinian Solidarity Campaign hits youth trail

By Marcus Dysch, January 27, 2011

The efforts of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to appeal to younger activists are causing concern among pro-Israel supporters.

A PSC rally last week to mark the second anniversary of Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza conflict heard speakers including veteran campaigner Tony Benn and the organisation's campaigns director, Sarah Colborne.

But it was two youthful, energetic speakers who roused the crowd. The appearance of hip-hop artist Lowkey, and political activist Jody McIntyre, gave what had been a staid rally a vibrant, contemporary atmosphere.

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Fears over renewed Ramallah-Hounslow link

By Marcus Dysch, January 20, 2011

Hounslow Jews have voiced concern at the town's decision to re-establish links with Ramallah.
Councillors voted to recognise a new twinning organisation which will explore possible cultural and educational ties with the Palestinian town.

Basil Mann, who serves on the borough's Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education, saw the decision as "a move against Israel. We have always felt there was a bit of an anti-Israel feeling in Hounslow."

The towns were first linked in 1988, but no formal twinning activities have taken place in recent years.

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We will block arrest change: PSC pledge

By Marcus Dysch, January 20, 2011

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has pledged to do everything possible to block the government's proposed change to universal jurisdiction legislation.

Speaking at a rally to mark the second anniversary of Israel's Operation Cast Lead, PSC campaigns director Sarah Colborne urged supporters to pressure their MPs and recruit friends to the campaign.

She said: "We want to send a very clear message. Don't fête war criminals. We will find other routes to bring you to justice. We will not stop until we bring those responsible for war crimes to justice."

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Deputies hardly covered in glory

By Marcus Dysch, January 20, 2011

Two months after Mick Davis's comments rocked the community, the Board of Deputies finally found time to discuss the fallout and landed itself in a pickle entirely of its own making.

With ill-feeling about the role of the JLC and general unease over Vivian Wineman's stewardship, there was always the potential for Sunday's Israel debate to spill over into wider squabbling.

Many deputies are erudite political and business leaders, but too many are out of touch with the modern world and vastly overestimate the Board's influence at home and abroad.

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JLC forced to scrap first West Bank visit

By Marcus Dysch, January 20, 2011

The Jewish Leadership Council has postponed a trip to meet Palestinian leaders in the West Bank following an angry reaction from community representatives.

Chairman Vivian Wineman had been due to travel to Ramallah next month with other council members including Sir Trevor Chinn and Rosalind Preston. They would have met Palestinian Authority officials and members of non-governmental organisations such as Oxfam and War on Want.

The JLC had also proposed that a representative of the Office of the Chief Rabbi join the touring group.

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