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Interview: Sadiq Khan

Labour’s London Mayoral candidate told me how he’ll repair the relationship with the capital’s Jewish community:

London’s mayoral elections have been some of the most personal in British political history. So prominent, and indeed notorious, have the past two holders of the role been, that only first names were needed: Ken and Boris.

Enter stage left, Sadiq. Labour’s former Communities Minister, Sadiq Khan, won the race to fight to reclaim City Hall from the Conservatives earlier this month.

One of the toughest tasks the 44-year-old former lawyer faces is to convince the capital’s Jewish community to give his party another chance.

At a café … Continue Reading

The General Election

During the course of the past three months I have been covering the run-up to the general election in Britain, due to take place on May 7.

I’ve interviewed a series of leading politicians, candidates and others involved in key seats and constituencies for what is likely to be a remarkable election.

The leading piece from my coverage was this interview with Labour leader Ed Miliband.

We discussed his approach to Israel and the Palestinians, antisemitism in Britain, and his views on personalities including British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and American comedian Larry David.

I also looked at the chances of … Continue Reading

Curious Kippers are unpalatable

My analysis of Ukip’s Friends of Israel event in Westminster:

When people discuss Ukip’s “odd bedfellows” they are usually referring to the party’s questionable partners in the European Parliament. But there is another uneasy alliance fighting for air – Ukip’s relationship with British Jewry and Israel supporters.
Tuesday’s Ukip Friends of Israel meeting in Westminster was a peculiar event, attended by around 50 party supporters and interested onlookers.
Nigel Farage’s “people’s army” appeared on this occasion to consist largely of Anglo-Saxon men in their sixties, clad in purple trousers and Ukip-branded ties. There was, admittedly, a smattering of kippot and noticeably Orthodox Jews … Continue Reading

MP promises no move to ban religious slaughter

EXCLUSIVE

Animal welfare campaigners in the House of Commons will not seek a vote to ban shechita in Britain, a leading MP has promised.

There is no intention of following the example of anti-Israel backbenchers who forced through a ballot on Palestinian statehood, Neil Parish, chair of a group investigating kosher and halal slaughter, confirmed.

He said colleagues would instead focus on cross-party discussions with religious groups in the hope of improving animal welfare. They will lobby for labelling to show consumers whether meat has been stunned or not.

Under the shechita process, animals are not stunned before slaughter, a practice animal rights … Continue Reading

Neo-Nazi gave out internet abuse tips in campaign against Luciana Berger

A neo-Nazi website based in the US is behind a co-ordinated campaign of antisemitic abuse targeting Britain’s youngest Jewish MP, the JC can reveal.

The site provides a user guide to harassing Luciana Berger and has created offensive images to be shared by internet trolls and sent to her via social media sites.

It carries a series of “dos and don’ts” for those who intend to abuse Ms Berger. The site advises trolls not to “call for violence, threaten the Jew b—h in any way. Seriously, don’t do that”.

But it goes on to encourage calling her “a Jew, call her a Jew … Continue Reading

MP attacks Israel supporters as ‘virtually invisible’

A fundamental revolution in pro-Israel campaigning is required following the parliamentary vote to recognise Palestine as an independent state.

That is the view of Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who challenged the Jewish community to take a radical look at how it co-ordinates support for Israel.

Pro-Palestinian activists had left Israel supporters standing in their use of social media, he believed.

Mr Halfon was one of the few pro-Israel politicians who spoke during the debate in the House of Commons last week. But as a parliamentary private secretary to the Chancellor George Osborne, he was forced to abstain – rules prevent MPs holding government … Continue Reading

Ex-Tory minister Sir Alan Duncan launches stinging attack on ‘extremist’ Israel

Former International Development Minister Alan Duncan has launched a blistering attack on the Israeli government’s settler policy, comparing it to Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands and Saddam Hussein’s claim to Kuwait.

The situation in Hebron in the West Bank was akin to apartheid and supporters of settlements were “extremists”, he said.

In a keynote speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Sir Alan said Israel was “relentlessly” building illegally on Palestinian land, breaking international law and obstructing the peace process.

He said many Israeli settlers were “state-supported militia” and cited a “wicked cocktail” of occupation and annexation which brought shame … Continue Reading

Anelka and the ‘quenelle’ – this is only the beginning

West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka’s antisemitic goal “celebration” has plunged English football into its third race row in as many years.

The Frenchman’s “quenelle” salute – described by his country’s sports minister Valérie Fourneyron as an incitement to racial hatred, and by journalist Philippe Auclair as “cretinous” – brings to football stadiums in this country a controversy that is spiralling out of control across the Channel.

The rise of the antisemitic signal – part Nazi salute, part “up yours” gesture – has been so rapid that French authorities want to ban its creator, antisemitic “comedian” Dieudonné from performing in public.

I will … Continue Reading

Rip off or good value? The great kosher meat debate

When you sit down for Shabbat dinner, what is on your mind? The joy of being with friends and family? The relevance of the week’s Torah portion? Or concern over the cost of your kosher roast chicken and chopped liver?

Kosher meat and poultry is more widely available in Britain than ever before, with a greater range of quality and affordability.

Yet with the financial climate putting pressure on newly-married couples, families and pensioners alike, fears have been expressed that observance of kashrut laws could hit a crisis-point as consumers struggle to pay the price of keeping kosher.

Many people have already stopped … Continue Reading

Auschwitz-Birkenau: A day trip to Hell

It was the hair that got me.

I had tried to prepare myself. When people heard I was going to visit Auschwitz with the Holocaust Educational Trust they all mentioned three things – the hair, the children’s shoes, and the freezing temperatures.

Having been to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem a number of times I thought I knew what to expect. A couple of shoes here, a lock of hair there.

“They have people’s real hair,” everyone kept telling me. I thought about when you go to the barber’s and the little collection he sweeps up after a quick … Continue Reading