Mayor's £50,000 to aid Jewish sports

by Reporter

London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced a £50,000 grant to the London Jewish Forum to be spent on promoting mainstream integrated sports in the Jewish community.
The grant is part of £2.4 million funding from his Olympic Sports Legacy programme, for 18 projects across the capital to help increase participation in sports.

The London Jewish Forum, on behalf of the Jewish Committee for the London Games (JCLG), will now raise another £50,000 to match the grant for its Enable programme, which aims to promote disabled and non-disabled integrated sports.

Adrian Cohen, chairman of the London Jewish Forum, said: "We are delighted that City Hall has offered £50,000 for a very exciting project, which offers the chance to make a real difference for the community against the backdrop of the London Games.

"The funding is contingent on an element of matched funding by the community and we are currently discussing the grant with potentially interested donors."

Alex Goldberg, from the JCLG, said: "This is part of our plan to ensure the legacy of the Paralympics and Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the German Jewish refugee who founded the Paralympic Games."

Working with 12 delivery partners, including Jewish Care, Norwood, Kisharon and Jewish Blind and Disabled, the JCLG plans to spend the money on three projects over two years, including three integrated sports events, one of which will be directed at the strictly Orthodox community.

Mr Goldberg said: "City Hall is interested in those who don't do much physical activity. There is a lack of facilities in religious communities."

The funds will also be used to train 50 community professionals and volunteers in disability sports at Stoke Mandeville and create a manual on integrated sports for Jewish schools and youth clubs.

"There is some level of disabled sports in the Jewish community, but there is very little in the way of integrated sports," Mr Goldberg said.

"We identified a lack of knowledge in the community and we hope by training people, they can use this in the years ahead and put on disabled sports activities, utilising equipment and events."

The Olympic kippah for Jewish volunteers

By Marcus Dysch

Volunteers at the London 2012 Olympic Games will be offered the chance to wear an "Olympic kippah" as part of their uniform.
The specially-designed yarmulke will form part of the official attire for Jewish members of the 70,000-strong volunteering team.
The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has held discussions with representatives of the Jewish community to discuss provisions, including kosher food, which will be needed for Jewish competitors and visitors to the capital.
Alex Goldberg, of the Jewish Committee for the London Games (JCLG), said: "We are steering LOCOG towards the model used by the British Army, which is quite advanced in yarmulke wear. There are examples of matching yarmulkes to uniforms.
"We have not got there yet, but the Olympic yarmulke may well be a crocheted one, in the same colour as the uniform."
An Olympic snood may also be produced, in the hope that religious women volunteers will come forward to offer their services at the Games.
"Strictly Orthodox people may want to volunteer and they should have the chance to have appropriate uniforms," said Mr Goldberg. The JCLG is stepping up its preparations for the Olympics and discussions with LOCOG on a range of issues affecting the Jewish community are said to be progressing well.
JCLG was consulted on the creation of the Games' mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, which were launched last month.
In their first online adventure, Mandeville discovers the history of the Paralympics, which were founded by Sir Ludwig Guttman, a German Jewish doctor who settled in London after fleeing Nazi persecution.
Jewish Olympians from previous Games will also be recruited to help promote London 2012 to the community.
One ambassador is likely to be the Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott, who represented Britain at the 1956 Games in Melbourne, and again four years later in Rome.
He captained the weightlifting team on both occasions.
Others approached for the roles include Susie Halter, who swam for the Hungarian team in the last London Games in 1948, and Allan Jay, who competed in fencing for Britain at five Olympics, winning two gold medals in Rome in 1960.
JCLG also hopes at least one ambassador will come from abroad. Boaz Kramer, an Israeli wheelchair tennis player who won the silver medal in the Paralympics doubles competition in Beijing in 2008, is likely to offer his services.
Mr Goldberg said: "Boaz wants to meet the British Jewish community and go into schools. He is a great role model.
"There are a number of countries who have realistic Jewish medal hopes for 2012.
"We already have Jewish sporting heroes here in London. We need to make the Olympics relevant to our community and to show that we can overcome some of the stereotypes in the community about our involvement in sport."
Jewish schoolchildren are likely to play a prominent role in the welcoming ceremony for the Israeli team, he said.
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Unusual coalition gov’t leaves British Jews uncertain on policy

By Winston Pickett

LONDON (JTA) – With Britons uncertain of how the country’s first coalition government since World War II will go about governing, the country’s Jewish community appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach to the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government.

During the campaign, many Jews expressed alarm at Liberal Democratic positions on Israel.

Now party leader Nick Clegg, who last year called for a European arms boycott of Israel, is Britain’s deputy prime minister. And William Hague, the Conservative Party leader who during the 2006 Lebanon war called Israel’s military response to Hezbollah’s attack “disproportionate,” is the new foreign minister.

What influence that will have on British foreign policy is, like much about the new government, a political unknown.

The new prime minister, David Cameron of the Conservative Party, has been a strong backer of Israel. It is one of the many issues on which the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have fundamental philosophical differences. Others include how to trim the country’s deficit and bring spending under control.

“With so much on the government’s plate, Israel -- along with foreign policy in general -- will be put way on the back burner,” said Robin Shepherd, foreign policy director of the Henry Jackson Society think tank and author of “Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel.”

“Given that both parties in the coalition will be preoccupied with the economy and that the Conservative Party has shown no real interest in the Middle East anyway, the British Foreign Office will find itself in an immensely powerful position to influence the direction of policy,” Shepherd said. “In other words, the Arabist-oriented bureaucracy is likely to inherit a lot of power by default as top politicians attend to other matters.”

Candidates affiliated with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said the Jews should not worry.
“I don’t think the Jewish community has anything to fear,” said Robert Halfon, a Jew and prominent figure in Conservative Friends of Israel who won a parliamentary seat last week for the Conservatives representing Harlow, north of London.

Matthew Harris, a Liberal Democratic candidate in Hendon who finished third in a race won by the Conservative candidate, said, “I think British Jewry will be pleasantly surprised by this government, and particularly by the quality of the five Lib-Dem Cabinet ministers that will be taking up their posts. Whether on faith schools, security and even Israel, I think people will find the Lib-Dems and this coalition to be broadly supportive of Jewish interests.”

For the time being, official Jewish bodies made do with issuing pro forma statements congratulating the new government.

The country’s Jewish umbrella group, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, put out a statement saying it “warmly welcomes the new prime minister, David Cameron, and his coalition Conservative/Liberal Democrat government” and that it “looks forward to a constructive, fruitful working relationship with Mr. Cameron, his Cabinet and his wider team together with a continued, regular dialogue with politicians of all parties and key civil servants.” 

Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, had no comment.
“As a strategic body, it is not our role to provide a running commentary on a government that has yet to finalize its Cabinet and set out key policies,” he told JTA.

Leaders of various Jewish organizations are hoping the candidates’ pledges to the Jewish community, made in interviews with the country’s main Jewish newspaper, the Jewish Chronicle, will hold fast.

Both Clegg and Cameron promised support for security for the community. Clegg pledged to put 3,000 more police officers on the streets, and Cameron backed the funding of security around Jewish institutions, including schools.

As for the faith schools themselves -- a major concern for many British Jews -- new Education Secretary Michael Gove is long considered a staunch advocate of Jewish communal interests, particularly in countering anti-Semitism. Gove, a former Times columnist and the author of "Celsius 7/7" critiquing what he deemed as the lax policies of Britain and the West toward terrorism, has publicly voiced his support of state-supported Jewish schools and pledged that the schools "will not have to pay for security" under a Tory government.

Both Cameron and Clegg said they backed changes to the current “universal jurisdiction” legislation, which allows British magistrates to issue arrest warrants for visiting foreign politicians and military staff. The law has been used to target Israeli officials and soldiers for alleged war crimes, in some cases scaring away Israeli officials from visiting Britain.

Cameron and Clegg also have spoken out forcefully against anti-Semitism.

As news of Britain’s new coalition government sank in, Jews also were trying to assess how the government’s priorities for cutting spending would affect domestic Jewish interests.

“It’s too early to know how a deficit reduction program will impact on funding for state-supported Jewish schools and social services,” said David Seidel, a community organizer in Brighton and a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. “Ditto for the final outcome of the new government’s policies generally, as well as whether the government can remain stable.”

In post-election analyses, it appeared that the Jewish community, like the rest of Britain, swung Conservative in last week’s vote.

In an analysis by the London Jewish Forum of 18 parliamentary constituencies, 40 percent of Jews voted Conservative, 37 percent voted Labor and 19 percent voted Liberal Democrat. That differed only slightly from the London-wide general vote, which went 34 percent Conservative, 37 percent Labor and 22 percent Liberal Democrat.

“This is a shift from a dominant Labor preference in years past and is something that is important to keep in mind on the local level where day-to-day Jewish interests are represented,” said the director of the London Jewish Forum, Alex Goldberg. “When faced with budgetary cutbacks promised by the new coalition government, grass-roots alliances are key." 

Jewish cultural event launched


A major Jewish cultural festival is launching in London in February.
The London Jewish Forum and the Greater London Authority have joined forces to work with many of the capital's Jewish cultural providers to launch Open Jewish Culture.

The aim is to bring as wide an audience as possible to Jewish arts and heritage.

OJC will produce a programme of events in London that promises to showcase the very best of the capital's Jewish Culture across arts, culture and heritage.

Open Jewish Culture runs from 27 February to 29 March 2010 across various venues in London.

Film festival

Participants and organisers are being asked to upload their cultural events onto the OJC website and to become part of the March programme.

Late in January, will officially launch as a hub that brings together all of London's public Jewish cultural events, large and small. It will carry listings and commentary, together with multimedia.

Included in the programme will be an international literary festival, Jewish Book Week, as well as the grand opening of the new Jewish Museum.

At the same time the OJC's aim is to help promote individual artists, small producers, and synagogue, youth & student cultural programmes.

The Jewish Community Centre and the UK Jewish Film Festival are also participating.

'Brilliant idea'

Producer of Open Jewish Culture, Jack Gilbert said: "If you make Jewish Culture happen then we'd like to hear from you. Whether you are an established producer or creating your first piece of work, a single artist or a collective, a community group, a school or a synagogue please get in touch as soon as possible to find out how you can participate and benefit.

"We are here to help each of you, and to facilitate a network that helps each other."

Alex Goldberg, Chief Executive of the London Jewish Forum said: "The LJF is delighted to have been commissioned by the Mayor's office to develop the Open Jewish Culture programme - the first of its kind. I am excited to see the variety and diversity of Jewish Cultural events that we can support and can bring to a wider Jewish community in London and beyond."

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: "I am delighted to give my backing to this brand new festival of Jewish culture. Across all walks of life, Jewish men and women have been key players in London's continuing success.

"The London Jewish Forum have come up with a brilliant idea in consultation with the various community groups they represent. Coinciding with the reopening of the Jewish Museum, it will give Londoners and tourists alike the chance to discover more about the fantastic variety of Jewish arts and culture that is out there."

Further information can be found about what's happening and how to get involved by going to the Open Jewish Culture website

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2010/01/05 13:16:05 GMT

© BBC 2011

As Britain votes, Liberal Democrats’ record on Israel draws scrutiny

By Winston Pickett · April 27, 2010

LONDON (JTA) -- With Britain’s three-way race for prime minister entering the final lap, many Jews in Britain are wondering what Nick Clegg’s meteoric rise -- and the possibility of a “hung parliament” -- means for them.

The dark-horse candidate from the Liberal Democratic Party has upended British politics with a surge in the polls that has put him in a virtual dead heat with the two other hopefuls for Britain’s top office: the incumbent, Gordon Brown of the Labor Party, and David Cameron of the Conservative Party, who holds a slight edge in the polls.

As no single party is expected to capture a majority of Parliament’s 650 seats in the May 6 ballot -- known as a
hung parliament -- the office of prime minister may go to whichever party leader is able to secure a coalition deal or win the support of another party.

While Clegg, whose candidacy has drawn comparisons to that of Barack Obama, is unlikely to be that man, his party’s strength significantly increases the chances that the Liberal Democrats either will be a governing coalition partner, or that Clegg’s party will exact concessions in exchange for throwing its support behind a minority government of either the Conservatives or Labor.

“So many things are up in the air,” said Rosalind Preston, a vice president of the national Jewish umbrella body, the Board of Deputies of British Jews. “But one thing is certain: Whoever is elected will have to deal with some very real and pressing issues, not only on the national and international level, but as they affect British Jews on the home front.”

British Jews, she said, are concerned with “boycotts of Israeli goods, the spike of anti-Israeli resolutions and speakers on university campuses, and the impact of the economy on the social service sector.”

With the possibility looming that the ruling party will form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, British Jews are preoccupied with the party’s record on Israel.

During the 2009 war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, Clegg penned an Op-Ed in the Guardian newspaper calling on Labor to "condemn unambiguously Israel's tactics" and demanding an immediate arms boycott of Israel by Britain and the European Union. Last December he was the lead signatory of a letter claiming that Israel has 1.5 million Palestinian prisoners, and he wrote that the legacy of Israel’s operation in Gaza is a “living nightmare” for Gaza’s residents.

Clegg’s party also has come under fire in pro-Israel circles for the activities of Jenny Tonge, a former member of Parliament who became a member of the House of Lords in 2005. In 2004, Tonge said she would become a suicide bomber if she had to suffer the indignities of the Palestinians. In 2006 she suggested that the pro-Israel lobby had "financial grips" on Britain and on her party. Last March she met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Syria.

The last straw came in February, when Tonge called for an inquiry into the far-fetched claim that Israel Defense Forces' earthquake relief teams in Haiti harvested the organs of quake victims. Tonge’s remark prompted Clegg to fire her as the party’s spokeswoman for health in the House of Lords. Critics said the move came too late.

It didn’t help the party’s reputation in pro-Israel circles when William Wallace, a deputy Liberal Democratic leader in the House of Lords, offered a politically tone-deaf address when he met with the Board of Deputies of British Jews on April 18. Wallace defended Tonge’s “over-emotional approach” to Palestinian rights, called Israel’s Likud government “very intolerant of all criticism” and said Israel’s blockade of Gaza constituted “collective punishment.” Several members of the Board of Deputies walked out of the meeting in protest.

Later, a Liberal Democratic spokesman denied that the speech was anti-Israel and told the Jewish Chronicle, “It was because we are friends of Israel that we will be candid and critical.”

Meanwhile, Clegg used the second of three U.S.-style national debates to slam the Conservative Party for making common cause with far rightists and anti-Semites in Europe. In the April 22 debate, Clegg said Cameron has aligned himself with "nutters, anti-Semites, people who deny climate change exists and homophobes" in the European Parliament.

Clegg was referring to Cameron’s decision last year to ally the Conservative Party with right-wing nationalist parties in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) grouping in Brussels.

Brown also criticized Cameron for his alliances.

“These are the friends David Cameron has chosen in order to satisfy the Euro-skeptic wing of his party,” Brown said. “I think that demonstrates poor judgment, and that British voters should understand the compromises to British values and British influence that the Tories are prepared to make in order to appease a significant section of their fanatical backbenchers.”

Cameron dismissed Brown’s charges as slurs, denied that the party is associated with anti-Semites and affirmed the Conservative Party’s pro-Israel record.
In such a closely contested and unpredictable national election, the three main parties are scrambling to chase every vote, including the Jewish ones.

While Jews traditionally have favored Labor over the Conservatives, Jews are upset with Labor’s failure to amend the universal jurisdiction law that permits private citizens to apply for the arrest of Israeli politicians for alleged war crimes while they are on British soil.

Cameron has said he would rescind the law.

As concerned as British Jews are with the party leadership race, because voters don’t vote directly for the prime minister, the race will be determined in large part by which way the votes go in local races, where bread-and-butter issues prevail. In Britain, the prime minister is determined as in Israel: by which party receives the most members in Parliament -- or, if there is no majority, which party can cobble together a coalition.

“It’s easy for the political leadership to make global pronouncements on issues like anti-Semitism, national security or the Mideast peace process,” said Alex Goldberg, chief executive of the London Jewish Forum, which acts as a conduit between the London Jewish community and local governmental bodies. “But on the day after the election it’s the elected MP that is going to have to find ways to maintain funding levels for Jewish old-age homes, state-supported schools and the whole panoply of social services that are still reeling from the current economic downturn.”

In the midst of this year’s extraordinarily tight race, candidates for prime minister and hopefuls in Jewish districts appear to be stepping up their pandering to Jewish voters.

Geoffrey Alderman, a historian of British Jewry, sees this as a positive development: It means that in the scramble for ethnic votes, Jewish concerns matter, he said.

“Appealing for a Jewish vote," Alderman said, "is a sign of a vibrant democratic state.”

2012 Tribute to Munich Victims

by Justin Cohen

Lord Janner is spearheading efforts to secure a minute's silence during the London Olympics in memory of the eight Israeli athletes killed during the Munich Games 40 years earlier.
The Labour peer, who sits of the Jewish Committee for the London Games, is hoping the tribute will take place during the opening or closing ceremony. It will be down to the International Olympic Committee to decide whether to take on the proposals.

"We will do our best to make sure that the memory of the victims of the Munich massacre are remembered in an appropriate way at the Games," said Lord Janner. "We hope that this will be marked in one of the olympic ceremonies as well as by the community and City of London."

The proposals are being supported by the JCLG, which also comprises the London Jewish Forum, Maccabi GB and UJIA. LJF chief executive Alex Goldberg said: "This will take a concerted international effort from politicians and sports associations, from both our community and outside of it."

It has previously been confirmed that a host city event will be held in memory of the victims. Two or three venues are currently being considered to host the ceremony, including Bevis Marks.

Meanwhile, 2012 organisers have asked the Jewish community to take a leading role in welcoming ceremonies for the Israeli Olympic and Paralympic teams in the Olympic village. JCLG hopes the event will see hundreds of young British Jews joining members of the Israeli team and IOC members.

Goldberg said: "This will be one of the main set piece events for Jewish youth in London. We are developing a programme to ensure that the entire community becomes involved through hospilitality events, sports programme, schools programme and volunteering opportunities before and during the Games."