Marcus Dysch

Auschwitz: that’s a beer, isn’t it?

By Marcus Dysch, March 12, 2009

Two per cent of secondary school children believe Auschwitz was a brand of bread or beer, a survey has revealed.

Research, conducted on behalf of the London Jewish Cultural Centre and the Miramax film company, shows many pupils aged 11 to 16 have only a “patchy” understanding of the Holocaust, despite its presence on the national curriculum.

One in four youngsters did not know Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp, with one in 10 believing it to be a country bordering Germany.


Amnesty U-turn over Gaza weapons

By Marcus Dysch, March 11, 2009

Amnesty International has admitted it has no proof that British weapons were used by the Israeli army during the Gaza conflict.

The human rights organisation had last month accused the UK government of “aiding Israeli war crimes”, and called for a UN arms embargo.

But on Wednesday, Oliver Sprague, the charity’s arms programme director, appeared in front of a parliamentary select committee session on arms export controls.


Worcester scraps Gaza twinning plan

By Marcus Dysch, March 10, 2009

Plans to twin the cities of Worcester and Gaza have been scrapped.

Worcester City councillors had approved a sister-city motion last month, saying residents felt strongly about January’s conflict and wanted to send a “personal message” of support.

But at a meeting on Monday, Worcester Twinning Association, an independent body which makes the final decision, rejected the proposal.

Its executive committee said there were insufficient resources to take on the “complex arrangements” needed to set up a “meaningful relationship” or active link.


BBC miss out World at War genocide episode

By Marcus Dysch, March 5, 2009

The BBC dropped from its schedule this week an episode of classic documentary series The World at War which focuses on the Holocaust and concentration camps.

The 1970s series, produced by Sir Jeremy Isaacs, is currently being repeated on weekday afternoons on BBC Two.

On Monday, the 19th of 26 episodes was shown, featuring the Battle of the Bulge and Arnhem.

But Tuesday’s episode was number 21, focusing on the final invasion of Germany.

The missing episode, Genocide, looks at Nazi policy between 1941 and the end of the war.


Shivah film to get new lease of life

By Marcus Dysch, March 5, 2009

A short film which starred Sir Derek Jacobi as a trickster targeting shivah houses is to be made into a full-length feature.

Sidney Turtlebaum was first screened at last year’s UK Jewish Film Festival, featuring an 80-something gay conman who steals from mourners in the Jewish heartlands of north west London — using a newspaper that looks worryingly like the JC to track down the shivahs.

The 10-minute comedy was shot in Golders Green and funded using a £10,000 grant from the Pears Foundation UKJFF Short Film Fund.


Anti-Israel daubings found near Belfast

By Marcus Dysch, March 5, 2009

Anti-Israel graffiti was daubed on a centre used by a messianic Jewish community in response to the Gaza conflict.

“Zionist killers of Palestinian children” and other offensive phrases were painted on the council-run building in Donaghadee, County Down, east of Belfast, where the Shalom Messianic Congregation meets twice a month.

The community was set up in May 2007 and has not previously been the target of an attack.


Twinning the war

By Marcus Dysch, March 5, 2009

An online property listings company claims it is preparing to advertise holiday homes — in Gaza. swung into action after councillors in Worcester backed plans to twin the city with the war-ravaged area.

Lee Bramzell said his company would soon be offering “desirable properties in the Israeli city” and expected “plenty of interest in the alternative destination”.


Nazi-joke councillor suspended

By Marcus Dysch, March 5, 2009

A councillor who dressed as a Nazi officer at a fancy dress party and claimed it was evidence of his “great sense of humour” has been suspended by his party.

Sean Aspey, a member of Porthcawl Council in South Wales, near Bridgend, is now the subject of a local Liberal Democrat party inquiry.

Pictures of Mr Aspey wearing the stormtrooper outfit were brought to the attention of fellow councillors last week.


Gym targeted by Israel boycotters

By Marcus Dysch, March 5, 2009

A gym which offers free membership to Maccabi GB athletes as they prepare for the Maccabiah Games has been targeted by anti-Israel campaigners.

Stickers proclaiming “Boycott Israeli Goods”, and displaying the Palestinian flag, were placed in changing room lockers at the Village Hotel in Elstree, Hertfordshire.

The company agreed a £250,000 sponsorship package with Maccabi GB in December.

As part of the deal, every member of the British team due to take part in the games in Israel in July was given free access to Village gyms around Britain.


Ashkenazi breast cancer fears allayed

By Marcus Dysch, March 4, 2009

Many Ashkenazi women may be overestimating their susceptibility to developing breast cancer, according to new research.

Analysts at the University of Melbourne, Australia, asked participants of the Australian Jewish Breast Cancer Study to calculate what they believed their chances of developing cancer to be.

Professor John Hopper said the results had revealed a clear trend: “The high risk people do not think they are high, but the low risk people do think they are high. At the moment, people generally think they are at much higher risk than is really the case.”


Board reaches out to repair faith relations

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

An Islamic community centre will host a major Jewish exhibition as interfaith groups attempt to repair relations in the aftermath of the Gaza conflict.

The Board of Deputies’ Jewish Way of Life exhibition will be held at the centre in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in the spring.

At a meeting on Tuesday, members of the London Jewish Forum, synagogue bodies and the Board reaffirmed their dedication to developing stronger ties with the Muslim community.


BNP activist fined after racial abuse of his neighbour

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

A BNP activist has been fined after racially abusing a neighbour whose grandmother died in the Holocaust.

Roy West told German-born Bernd Kugow to “go back to krautland and kill some more Jews” during an argument outside their homes in Dukinfield, Lancashire.

Unemployed West, 44, had denied a charge of racially aggravated abuse in August last year, but changed his plea moments before appearing at Tameside Magistrates’ Court last week.

He began the tirade after trying to fix a Union Jack flag to his neighbour’s shed.


Family agony as driver avoids jail

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

The family of a pensioner who was killed after being hit by a van have spoken of their anguish after the driver avoided a jail term.

Jack Reuben died 48 hours after the collision in North London in July 2007. The 78-year-old was vice-president of cricket club London Maccabi Vale for almost 50 years and had served as a football referee in the Maccabi Southern Football League. His wife Anita survived but suffered serious injuries.

Darren Talbot, 34, of Hatfield, was given a one-year driving ban, £750 fine and ordered to pay £250 costs at Wood Green Crown Court last Friday.


Former Israeli army medic is struck off the British medical register

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

A former Israeli army doctor who acted inappropriately while working as a GP in England has been struck off the medical register.

Paul Hirschowitz told one patient she had a “nice ass” and another woman, who was suffering from depression, that “cuddles were better than medicine”.

The 50-year-old was working at a surgery in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, when the incidents took place between 2005 and 2007.


JFS bus-abuse teen will have an Asbo until 2014

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

A teenager who verbally abused a group of Jewish children as they travelled home from school has been given a five-year antisocial behaviour order.

It bans the 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, from using the north-west London bus route on which the incident took place in November last year.

Last week, Hendon Magistrates’ Court imposed a series of restrictions on the youth’s movements in the London borough of Barnet.


Friedman and Oz set Book Week alight

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

Israel’s best-known novelist, Amos Oz, this week declared himself to be “very angry” with the Israeli government over its Gaza incursion, and insisted that the operation should have been restricted to just 48 hours. It had been, he said, “very cruel”, and had resulted in “unjustified loss of life” among the civilian population.

But Mr Oz, speaking on the opening night of Jewish Book Week to a capacity audience, nevertheless cautioned that criticism of Israel, while legitimate, should be tempered with “solidarity” for the Jewish state.


Klein wins UK prize for book

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

Canadian author and journalist Naomi Klein has won the inaugural Warwick Prize for Writing.

Her book, The Shock Doctrine, charts the exploitation of crises such as the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina by global corporations. It beat five others to win the £50,000 prize, funded by Warwick University.

Ms Klein said: “At a time when the news out of the publishing industry is usually so bleak it’s thrilling to be part of a bold, new prize supporting writing, especially alongside such an exciting array of other books.”


Harassment officer posts ‘racist’ cartoon

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

Student groups have condemned a university for failing to discipline a harassment officer who posted an antisemitic picture on the internet.

Andrew Collingwood, who works in the University of York’s biology department, added the image to a Palestine Solidarity Campaign group on social networking site Facebook.

The photograph was taken during a protest in the city against Israel’s actions in Gaza last month.

It shows a placard bearing an image of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni wearing a witch’s hat and waving a Star of David-topped wand.


Amnesty charges Israel and Hamas over Gaza

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has accused the British government of “aiding Israeli war crimes” during the Gaza conflict, and called for a UN arms embargo.

In a 38-page report, Fuelling conflict: foreign arms supplies to Israel/Gaza, Amnesty said both Israel and Hamas had used weapons supplied from abroad to attack civilians.

Israel’s arms included US-made shells used for deploying white phosphorus, and British engines made in Lichfield, Staffordshire, used in drone aircraft, it claimed.


Peres turns to Netanyahu

By Marcus Dysch, February 20, 2009

Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu has been asked to form a government and be the next prime minister of Israel.

President Shimon Peres met Mr Netanyahu and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni this morning, and will entrust the former PM with creating a coalition.

Mr Netanyahu is likely to ask Ms Livni and Labo u r party chairman Ehud Barak to join him in a broad administration, although Ms Livni has suggested she will turn down any approach.

The new prime minister will have six weeks to create a cabinet.