Marcus Dysch



Shocked by Sophocles? Don't be.

By Marcus Dysch, November 12, 2009

Michael Sophocles’ piece on our campus page this week will no doubt shock many readers. Probably more parents than students.

Admittedly not every Jewish student will turn to working as a sex escort or become a gambling addict in order to cope with the trials and tribulations of being at university.

But many will experience a vast array of personal and social problems during the supposed glory years of academia.

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UJS puts chicken on menu with Friday night initiative

By Marcus Dysch, November 12, 2009

From Aberdeen to Exeter, the Shabbat UK experience arrives on campuses next weekend.

The UJS initiative provides every Jewish student with the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Friday-night dinner, regardless of where they are studying or whether their university has a dedicated JSoc.

Packs of Shabbat essentials will be delivered ahead of November 20 and will include a chicken, candles, challot, grape juice and a prayer booklet.

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Interfaith groups support campus tour

By Marcus Dysch, November 12, 2009

Dialogue and understanding were top of the agenda during an interfaith campus tour this week.

Campus Faith Hub: From Dialogue to Action offered students the opportunity to discuss global issues, including conflict resolution and poverty.

The project was backed by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the Three Faiths Forum and the Coexistence Trust.

The tour visited the universities of Leeds, Nottingham, Leicester, Salford and Birmingham.

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Sussex Students' Union agrees Israel boycott

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

Israeli goods will be boycotted by the University of Sussex Student Union after an unsuccessful UJS campaign to defend the Jewish state.

The union voted ‘Yes’ by 562 votes to 450 in a referendum with the question “Should USSU boycott Israeli Goods?”

A passionate statement was put forward by the anti-boycott campaign, explaining how during the Gaza conflict earlier this year the Sussex campus had become “like a war zone” for Jewish students.

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Birmingham students set up text ticketing service

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

Two Birmingham University graduates have devised an electronic mobile pre-payment system allowing students to buy tickets for gigs and events by text message.

Txt2buy.com was set up by Simon Rabin and Daniel Rosenberg late last year and is currently being used in Manchester and Leeds.

The 23-year-olds became friends through FZY and spent a year researching the feasibility of their plans.

Simon said: “We originally approached the networks with the intention of billing purchases to students’ phone bills and were more or less ignored by them all.

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Sir Alistair Horne's Shabbat dinner at Oxford Chabad

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

Distinguished historian Sir Alistair Horne was treated to his first Shabbat dinner, courtesy of Oxford University Chabad Society.

Sir Alistair was invited by Rabbi Eli Brackman to speak about his book on Henry Kissinger and the Yom Kippur War.

Around 100 students attended the American-themed dinner and heard recollections of Kissinger’s role in the war and the Israeli reaction to the historian, who had served in the British Army during the Second World War.

“I enjoyed the evening. It was flattering to be asked to speak and to be invited to don a yarmulke,” said Sir Alistair.

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Danny Ayalon booed during LSE talk

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon gave a lecture at LSE during a trip to Britain last week.

Speaking on the topic “The situation in the Middle East: The view from Israel”, he told around 300 students that both Israel and the Palestinians hope to achieve reconciliation.

Security for Israel, he said, would be recognised with sovereignty and economic prosperity for Palestinians.

The event was interrupted several times by students who shouted at Mr Ayalon. After the lecture he took part in a question and answer session.

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Orthodox life turns around teen terrors

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

It began with foul language, lip piercings and under-age drinking, but it led to studying an “ology” and spending more time with the family.

Two Hampshire teenagers who lived for a week with a strictly Orthodox family in Israel for a BBC reality show believe the experience changed their lives.

Jack Travers, 18, and Gemma Lyons, 17, filmed the episode of World’s Strictest Parents with the Sha-ked family in the gated, religious community of Nof Ayalon, near Modi’in, in May.

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No kosher kill-off, Tesco tells customers

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

Tesco has moved to reassure customers that kosher products have not been removed from its online sales and delivery service.

Online shoppers in a number of locations across Britain reported being unable to buy kosher food using the Tesco.com grocery service last week.

It sparked fears the range had been removed from the company’s website.

A Tesco spokeswoman said a “technical error” had been experienced and the problem was due to be resolved this week, making kosher items available as usual.

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Charedis raise funds for rapist

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

A strictly Orthodox community is running a fundraising campaign for a convicted child molester who avoided jail by hiding in London for two years.

Nachman Stal lived secretly among the Charedi community in Stamford Hill, north London, having fled Israel in 2006 after being found guilty of sodomy and indecent assault of a minor.

The father-of-nine lost an extradition hearing in June and is now serving his sentence in an Israeli prison.

Members of the Stamford Hill community are appealing for money to support his wife and children, who have also returned to Israel.

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FZY target Gordon Brown with Gilad Shalit petition

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

Two Federation of Zionist Youth leaders have launched an online petition calling on Gordon Brown to make the release of Gilad Shalit a priority.

Aaron Collins and Samuel Franklin used the Downing Street website to set up the petition after a video of Shalit was released last month. An FZY spokesman said: “French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come out and declared that Gilad’s release is top of his agenda, and we hope that Mr Brown will do the same.

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Simon Mann's family is 'overjoyed' at release

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

The family of freed British mercenary Simon Mann have thanked the president of Equatorial Guinea for pardoning the 57-year-old.

The former SAS soldier had been sentenced to 34 years in jail for his role in a coup plot in the oil-rich African nation. He was freed by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema on Tuesday.

In a statement, Mr Mann’s Jewish wife, Amanda, said: “Everyone is profoundly grateful to the president and the government of Equatorial Guinea.

“The whole family is overjoyed at the prospect of finally welcoming Simon home after five-and-a-half long years away.”

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Cherie Blair launches £200k Galilee school project

By Marcus Dysch, November 5, 2009

Cherie Blair visited Israel this week and opened a study course for women in Galilee.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women has donated £200,000 to support an economics and management programme for Jewish and Arab students at the Western Galilee College, in Acre.

The course is being taken by 22 students from Jewish, Muslim, Druze and Christian backgrounds.It offers computer workshops and internships in Israeli and international companies.

The former Prime Minister’s wife visited the college, which is also supported by the UJIA, on Wednesday.

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Queen's Music Master manager jailed

By Marcus Dysch, November 2, 2009

The former manager of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen’s Music, has been jailed for defrauding the 75-year-old composer of more than £500,000.

Michael Arnold, 76, was Sir Peter’s manager for more than 30 years and was entrusted with his finances.

He was jailed for 18 months at Kingston Crown Court on Monday.

The self-confessed gambler had earlier admitted one charge of false accounting involving £522,333.

Arnold, who walks with a stick, was spared a longer sentence because of his age and ill-health.

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Election plans get under way

By Marcus Dysch, October 29, 2009

Dozens of Jewish candidates are standing for election to regional and national student organisations this month.
They hope to win faith, welfare and education positions on their own student unions, as well as achieving general National Union of Students delegate posts.

More than 1,500 students will attend the NUS annual conference in Gateshead in April next year.

Jewish students have traditionally worked hard to ensure substantial representation at the conference in an attempt to secure favourable motions and an equal footing with other minority groups.

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Analysis: Fear for Jewish students on campus

By Marcus Dysch, October 29, 2009

Jewish students are renowned for their positive activism, standing up not only for their own rights and to support Israel, but for other minority groups as well.

They should be applauded for their conscientious efforts.

But reporting their election hopes this week has, unintentionally, revealed a problem.

Senior figures at UJS, and individual students from campuses, contacted me with fraught pleas that the JC should not run the story. Many candidates initially asked to be included in the coverage before dropping out.

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Israeli-Arab event in UK cancelled

By Marcus Dysch, October 29, 2009

A London networking evening for Arab and Jewish business leaders has been cancelled after its Palestinian hostess was pressured into pulling out by her friends and relatives.

Plans for the private home reception, due to be held on November 5, had been at an advanced stage.

The Arab-Jewish Ensemble, also known as Sheshbesh, is part of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s educational department. It had been booked to perform at the event.

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Anger as M&S serves Syria but not Israel

By Marcus Dysch, October 29, 2009

Marks & Spencer has been criticised for excluding Israel from its online international delivery scheme, despite the service being on offer to shoppers in Libya, Syria and Lebanon.

The company has received complaints from disappointed Israelis, but this week declined to explain its reasons for not delivering to the Jewish state.

Earlier this month, M&S expanded its online delivery service to cover 80 countries, offering millions of British expatriates and overseas customers the chance to order from abroad.

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French comic Dieudonné's London show axed for antisemitic joke

By Marcus Dysch, October 29, 2009

A theatre has cancelled a planned performance by an anti-Zionist French stand-up comedian after he was fined by a court for making antisemitic jokes.

Dieudonné M’bala M’bala had been due to appear in a one-man show about domestic violence at the Leicester Square Theatre, central London, in March next year.

But theatre director Martin Witts called off the show on Wednesday after learning of the increasing controversy surrounding Dieudonné, which has seen him described as “the French Jim Davidson”.

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Ofsted report analyses faith teaching

By Marcus Dysch, October 29, 2009

Independent faith schools must work harder to ensure textbooks used to teach about other faiths are accurate and unbiased, according to an Ofsted report.

Inspectors visited 51 private faith schools and found that some teaching materials had incorrect information about other religions.

The Board of Deputies welcomed the report, saying it gave a “strong endorsement” of the general work of faith schools and the “real and positive efforts to address issues of citizenship and cohesion”.

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