We Don’t Want War With Israel

The missile, armed with a conventional warhead, was tested in a remote desert and can reach 1,240 miles.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “These tests are unwelcome and only serves to reinforce our concerns about Iranian intentions. We have to question: why does Iran need such long-range missiles? What we have seen just underlines the need for Iran to comply with its international obligations on
the nuclear issue.”

A White House spokesman called on Iran to “refrain from further missile tests if they truly seek to gain the trust of the world.”
It comes after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the possibility of a war with Israel or the U.S. over his nuclear ambitions earlier this week.

He told reporters at a summit of developing Muslim nations in Malaysia on Tuesday, “We’re making the utmost effort for providing peace and security at the world level. Don’t worry, there won’t be any war in the future.”

Ahmadinejad added, “The greatest threat in the Middle East and the whole world is the United States’ intervention in other countries.”

However, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned of retaliation against any military strikes from Israel or America by targeting Tel Aviv and US warships

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Winds of change at JNF

Her departure comes less than six months after she hailed the “positive and peaceful resolution” to the long-running legal battle with Israeli parent organisation Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael.

Seal announced at a board meeting on Monday that she would be retiring to spend more time with family and friends after 40 years of service with the charity.

Hayek – who had been Chairman of the KKL Charitable Trust and who assumed the Chairmanship of JNF UK in the wake of the resolution – told the Jewish News that at the time of the mediation agreement it had already been confirmed that she would be stepping down next April.

He said: “Her departure was part of our settlement. We subsequently agreed that she would leave at the end of June.”

Paying tribute to her efforts over the years, Hayek said: “Mrs Seal helped JNF grow from a charity raising money for trees and from blue boxes into a charity supporting the neediest in Israel’s society and helping redevelop the Land of Israel.”

Asked if there would be more reshuffles at the charity, Hayek said: “There will be some further changes announced in due course.”

Meanwhile, it was reported that JNF Chief Executive Simon Winters has been suspended “pending an investigation into his management.”

Winters was unavailable for comment.

Seal, who increased JNF’s annual income tenfold – from £1.5 million to more than £15 million – as the charity’s first female President, said in a statement: “I have been incredibly fortunate and blessed to lead such an effective and committed organisation over the last 13 years. I leave JNF UK in a very different place to where it stood in 1995, and with a very strong and focused framework to build on.

“I wish my successor every success and I am positive that JNF UK will continue to maintain a strong bond between Anglo Jewry and the Israeli people through innovative projects. My tenure has not always been smooth sailing but I look back with great fondness and pride at the tremendous achievements that JNF UK has facilitated in Israel. At the same time, I am looking forward to moving on to new pastures and particularly to being able to spend more quality time with my family and friends.”

Meanwhile, Dr Michael Sinclair, the Chairman of Totally Plc – the parent company of the Jewish News & Media Group – has been appointed as JNF’s Vice Chairman and Trustee.

He said: “It’s a real honour to be involved with the JNF which has an industrious and inspirational history and it’s a particular honour to work with Samuel Hayek who has expended tireless effort in resolving the recent problems in the organisation’s relationship with KKL.”

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University Blues

The motion, passed by a vast majority at the union’s conference in Manchester yesterday, calls for members “to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating”.

It notes that “criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic” and claims there is “apparent complicity of the Israeli academy” in Israeli government policies towards the Palestinians.” The resolution adds that a discussion of a boycott is not illegal.

Ronnie Fraser, Director of the Academic Friends of Israel, said the motion would entrench racism within the UCU, he said: “It beggars belief that such a blatant ‘McCarthyite’ demand which clearly is discriminatory, anti-semitic and we believe in clear violation of the UK Race Relations act is allowed to be published and debated by a union that prides itself on supporting academic freedom, and according to its rules ‘promotes equality for all’ and actively opposes “all forms of harassment, prejudice and unfair discrimination.”

“The problem is that many of the Congress delegates as well as the Union itself do not accept that by passing the motion the UCU has become institutionally racist by creating a discriminatory atmosphere on campus towards Jewish academics many of whom are members of the UCU. Are the UCU intending to make it a condition of membership that all academics conform to this policy? If not how do they intend to implement this resolution?”

Speaking for the Stop the Boycott campaign, Co-chair Jeremy Newmark said: “We are dismayed that UCU has again chosen to pass a pro-boycott motion. Our legal opinion, produced at the request of many UCU members, demonstrates how implementing this motion would breach discrimination laws. Trade Unions exist to defend their members in the workplace, not to discriminate against them.”

However, commenting on the motion, UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt rejected claims that it represented a boycott. She told delegates, “Because of the constant misreporting of the motions considered by UCU’s Congress, I feel I have to state that we have passed a motion to provide solidarity with the Palestinians, not to boycott Israel or any other country’s academic institutions. I made clear to delegates that the union will defend their right to debate this and other issues. Implementation of the motion within the law will now fall to the national executive committee (NEC).”

A similar motion last year sparked a storm of controversy. It was ultimately abandoned after the union’s own lawyers deemed it discriminatory. The UCU has rejected calls to make the legal advice they received public. However, separate advice obtained by the Stop the Boycott campaign last week claims that the motion would “expose Jewish members of the union to indirect discrimination” and could make the UCU liable for an “act of harassment on grounds of race or nationality”.

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Politicians slam Israel boycott

The motion, passed by a vast majority at the union’s conference in Manchester yesterday, calls for members “to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating”.

John Mann MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism said: “UCU has proven once again that it is an increasingly irrelevant union.
Instead of fighting for the terms and conditions of its members it would rather make headlines pursuing what will effectively constitute an illegal boycott of academics and trade unionists. This motion leaves the Union and individual members open to disciplinary action under the very race equality legislation that the union itself lobbied to create.

“Boycotts do nothing to bring about peace and reconciliation in the Middle East but leave Jewish students, academics and their associates isolated and victimised on UK University campuses.

The All-Party Group is determined to work with all right-minded groups and individuals to defeat this attack on academic freedom.”

John Spellar, Labour MP for Warley a former National Officer for the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union, added, “It is a matter of great regret that the UCU has passed this motion which runs contrary to the views of ordinary members and against principles of academic freedom.”

Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “An academic boycott of Israel makes neither moral nor intellectual sense. Israel is an open society, a democracy and a nation which values the free exchange of ideas in a region where freedom is under threat. All those who believe in free speech, free inquiry and free institutions should be supportive of Israel’s academics.

“The singling out of Israel for a boycott of this kind when there is no boycott of other countries, which are not democracies and which practise repression, curb free speech and limit academic inquiry, must raise questions about the nature of the prejudice animating this campaign.”

David Willetts, Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said: “It is entirely wrong to be threatening academic boycotts of Israel. It is a threat to the high principles of academic freedom to be caught up in such anti-Israel campaigns, and will do nothing to help peace in the region.”

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Brawer attacks annulled conversions

Speaking during a sermon last Saturday, Brawer described the rabbinical High Court of Jerusalem’s decision to invalidate fifteen years of conversions by Rabbi Hayim Druckman as degrading to the religion.

He said: “This I am afraid is not an isolated case but rather it is symptomatic of a most disturbing trend in the Jewish world to be more and more stringent. To find reasons to forbid, to exclude, to condemn, when what we should be concerned with is finding ways to permit, to include, to vindicate. Such oppressive and exclusive Judaism does not uphold the Torah, it degrades it.”

He added, ”What we see is nothing less than a real violation of the dignity of the convert and I want no part of it.

“I believe in a Torah that values human dignity and instructs its followers to do all they can to minimize human misery and suffering.”

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Tevye Gets The Upper Hand

McGann takes on the lead role of Tevye, made famous by Israeli thespian Topol, in the classic production at the New Wimbledon Theatre next week, but he told the Jewish News that other than growing a similar style beard, he has worked hard to make the part unique and foster his own Tradition.

He said: “The toughest part of this role was making it my own and slaying the ghost of iconic performers like Topol. It has not been my intention nor would it ever be, to emulate or copy another actor’s performance. This is my interpretation and I’m proud of it.

“It is a different cast and staging than has ever been seen before. It is also more light-hearted.”

But McGann, whose wife Tamzin is Jewish, revealed that he does have links with the original West End production, “Geoff Locise, my father in law, was in the original London production with Topol. Tamzin says getting the part has been a blessing, almost as if we’d given him a grandchild.”

It is not the Hertfordshire based actor’s first time on stage. He recently starred as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls and previously appeared in productions of Blood Brothers and Oliver. His latest role has already received rave reviews. Industry magazine The Stage said: “Joe McGann, playing Tevye, has given the milkman a certain manner that is instantly engaging and the delivery of his many witticisms is all but perfect.

“McGann’s singing voice may drift a little occasionally but, on the whole, this is as good a Tevye as anyone is likely to have seen.”

Meanwhile, Wimbledon residents were treated to a real-life fiddler on the roof last week after Jennifer Pike, the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, climbed on to the roof of the New Wimbledon Theatre to promote her appearance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for a performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

Despite a hatred of heights, the 18-year-old stood on top of the Grade II Edwardian building and posed for photographs almost 100ft above ground level. She said: “It wasn’t as bad as I first expected, although I am looking forward to coming back to Wimbledon and not having to do it again.”

– Fiddler on the Roof, presented by UK Productions Ltd, is on at the New Wimbledon Theatre between Tuesday 6th – Saturday 10th May. Tickets start from £12. Tickets are available from the theatre Box Office or by calling 0870 060 6646 or via the website at www.newwimbledontheatre.co.uk. Booking fees apply.

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UN Walkout Over Israel Slur

French Ambassador Jean Maurice Ripert was followed by Americian, British, Belgian and Costa Rican diplomats after Ibrahim Dabbashi made the comments during a private meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

The meeting was postponed following the walkout. Britain’s deputy ambassador, Karen Pierce, said: “A number of council members were dismayed by the approach taken by Libya and do not believe that such language helps advance the peace process.”

The Anti-Defamation League praised the diplomats who left the meeting and described the comments as “deeply insulting.”

ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said: “There can be no comparison between Israel‘s effort to defend its citizens against terrorism and the Nazis’ systematic killing of six million Jews in the Holocaust.

“Any attempt to equate the two is odious, patently false and deeply insulting to the memory of the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust, to the survivors and their families and to the entire Jewish community.”

In a letter to U.N. Security Council President Dumisani S. Kumalo, the League called for an official statement condemning the Libyan representative for using the forum of the Security Council “as a platform for anti-semitism”.

The letter said: “The apparent silence of the Presidency and other members of the Council create a perception of agreement with the views expressed by the Libyan representative.”

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‘Man of history’

Harel, who sailed thousands of Holocaust survivors from Europe to British governed Palestine in 1947, died on Saturday in Israel aged 90.

The ship carried 4,554 Holocaust survivors who had been denied immigration permits to Palestine in July 1947. Harel, a member of the Haganah movement, ignored British orders to surrender as he approached the land. British forces attacked the ship and its passengers were sent back to Europe.

The incident was immortalised in the film Exodus in 1960 directed by Otto Preminger and starring Paul Newman.

Harel was buried by the sea according to his wishes at the Ceasaria-area kibbutz, in Sdot Yam on Monday, after a memorial service attended by Israeli leaders including President Shimon Peres.

Peres described Harel as “one of the giants that built the state of Israel.”
He said: “He was always given insurmountable obstacles and always found a window or a door to achieve this impossible task he had to achieve. He was a very charming man, when you met him you fell in love with him and fell in love with him.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert phoned the family on Sunday and said Harel was “a man of history.”

Harel’s daughter, Sharon, told the Jewish News: “My father was very proud of Israel. This was his country. His life was a parallel to this counry. He was born just after the Balfour Declaration, this is the country he helped create, he lived for the success of the State of Israel.”

Ruth Gruber, who reported on the story and wrote the book Exodus 1947, added, “Harel played an important role as he was the one who the Haganah in Palestine sent orders to.

Aside from the Exodus, Harel later went on to sail around 15,000 illegal immigrants from Romania to Palestine in 1947, but when met with British forces agreed to take them to Cyprus instead. He acted as a naval advisor to David Ben Gurion in 1948 during the War of Independence and later became bodyguard to President Chaim Weizmann. Harel then moved to Los Angeles to study before returning to Israel in 1959 to become a member of IDF intelligence.

He is survived by his wife, Julie, and three children.

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A Pope for two Zuzim

The Pope, a former Hitler Youth member, expressed his “respect and esteem” for the Jewish community last Friday during an address to 400 community leaders inside New York’s Park East Synagogue, led by Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Arthur Schneier.

Speaking inside the 120-year-old Byzantine style building, just one of his many stops during a tour of the country, he said: “Shalom, It is with joy that I come here, just a few hours before the celebration of your Pesah, to express my respect and esteem for the Jewish community in New York City.

“I find it moving to recall that Jesus, as a young boy, heard the words of Scripture and prayed in a place such as this….I know that the Jewish community make a valuable contribution to the life of the city, and I encourage all of you to continue building bridges of friendship with all the many different ethnic and religious groups present in your neighborhood.

“I assure you most especially of my closeness at this time, as you prepare to celebrate the great deeds of the Almighty, and to sing the praises of Him who has worked such wonders for his people. I would ask those of you who are present to pass on my greetings and good wishes to all the members of the Jewish community.”

Rabbi Schneier, a survivor from the Budapest Ghetto, presented the Pope with a Seder plate, a haggadah and a box of matzah, he said: “Your visit today is a historic occasion to be recorded in history forever. Your presence here gives us hope and courage for the road we still have to travel together.

“At a time when religion is misused and abused by some, we must intensify together our commitment to repair our fractured world … our presence together, your Holiness, is a message that inter-religious dialogue is viable and vital to the resolution of conflict.”

It is only the third time that Pope has visited a synagogue. Pope Benedict visited the Cologne Synagogue in 2005 and Pope John Paul II visited the Rome Synagogue in 1986.

The trip came amid criticism regarding the Vatican’s reintroduction of the traditional Latin Mass which calls for Jews to accept Jesus Christ. The Pope didn’t address the issue during his talk but did release a statement ahead of the visit which said the prayer “in no way intends to indicate a change in the Catholic Church’s regard for the Jews.”

Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee told TJ: “The very fact that the Pope agreed to depart from his original schedule to ensure that between official engagements he could visit a synagogue appropriately situated on his way to the U.N was itself a special expression of esteem for the Jewish People and the unique importance of Catholic-Jewish relations for him.

“It was moreover an expression of respect for US Jewry and the Jewish-Catholic relationship in the US in particular. This was actually even more evident in the special meeting the Pope held with Jewish representatives after the ecumenical meeting in Washington and his published remarks on that occasion.”

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PM inspired by Pesach

Brown said the exodus from Egypt provides hope to all those who suffer oppression.

He said: “I am delighted to send my best wishes to the Jewish community as families gather across Britain and around the world for their Seder meal. The celebration of Passover, a commemoration of deliverance, gives hope to all those who suffer oppression.

“The children of Israel endured slavery for two centuries before being liberated by Moses. Pesach reminds us that we are blessed – or, more precisely, that we have been ‘spared’. Pesach means literally to pass through, ‘pass over’, or to be exempt from suffering. We remember those who have suffered in the past or suffer today. For this reason Pesach should be an inspiration to us all. It gives me great pleasure to wish you a very happy Passover.”

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