A man accused of co-founding a banned neo-Nazi group [..] had links to a convicted terrorist, a court has heard. Ben Raymond, 32, is accused of creating the banned group to wage a "white Jihad" and race war in Britain.

Bristol Crown Court heard on Wednesday how he met Jack Renshaw who was jailed for life after admitting plotting to murder Labor MP Rosie Cooper in 2019.
Raymond, of Swindon, Wiltshire, denies seven terror offenses.

'Propaganda chief'

The court was told the group was formed in 2013 by Mr Raymond, who became its propaganda chief.  His trial previously heard how he was likened to the Third Reich's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. Following the murder of Labor MP Jo Cox in 2016, [the Nazi group] was banned - joining the likes of the IRA, Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Barnaby Jameson QC, prosecuting, said the two men had attended a rally in Liverpool in 2016 during which Renshaw publicly called for the murder of Jews. He told the jury that Renshaw was "standing two away from the defendant" at the time.

"The same Jack Renshaw called publicly for the eradication of the Jews in speeches in Liverpool and Blackpool in February and March 2016 and the defendant had a link to one of the speeches," he added.

Jurors were told Renshaw admitted meeting other convicted members of National Action at a pub in Warrington in July 2017 - more than six months after the group was proscribed.

'Public face'

This was part of his plot to murder the West Lancashire MP, the court heard. In the aftermath of Mrs Cox's murder, members discussed which politician would be killed next -- settling on Shabana Mahmood, the MP for Birmingham Ladywood, the court heard.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Raymond was the "public face" of the group and focused on leadership, ideology and producing images.  After it was outlawed, it morphed into a new group called NS131 (National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action) which Mr Raymond is also accused of being involved in.  In addition, he allegedly created images for the Midlands-based KKK Mafia.

Mr Raymond is charged with one count of membership of a proscribed organisation and six counts of possessing a document or record of use to a terrorist.  The trial continues.--BBCi


Germany's Protestant Church and other authorities have condemned the reuse of the vacant burial plot of a Jewish music professor for a neo-Nazi.  The remains of Professor Max Friedlaender were moved to another site in 1980, but a tombstone still commemorates him at the cemetery outside Berlin.

A Holocaust denier was buried there on Friday after the grave's reuse was approved.  The local bishop called it "a terrible mistake". Bishop Christian Stäblein visited the site on Tuesday.  The burial plot is in one of Germany's largest Protestant cemeteries, in Stahnsdorf near Potsdam.

Friedlaender, who died in 1934, was from a Jewish family but was a member of the Protestant Church. He was a bass singer and musicologist who specialised in the songs of Franz Schubert.  German media report that Henry Hafenmayer, the man now buried in the plot in Stahnsdorf, was a Holocaust denier and blogger linked to several neo-Nazi groups.

Neo-Nazi supporters laid wreaths on the grave, with nationalist messages and ribbons adorned with the Nazi-era iron cross symbol. They placed a portrait of Hafenmayer in front of Prof Friedlaender's shrouded tombstone.

The memorial was covered by the cemetery officials as is usual practice when a grave site is reused, the Church said. Among the mourners was Horst Mahler, a neo-Nazi who has spent years in jail for racist incitement, German media report.

In an apologetic statement, Bishop Stäblein said the burial was "a terrible mistake and shocking occurrence, in view of our history". The bishop, who leads the Church in that part of Germany, said "we must immediately see whether and what we can undo".

Pictures of the funeral were posted on Flickr by RechercheNetzwerk.Berlin, an organisation campaigning against anti-Semitism.  The organisation says Hafenmayer published anti-Semitic propaganda on his blog, called "End of the Lie", and glorified Nazism.

The Church said that Hafenmayer's representative had originally requested a more central burial plot, which had been refused by the cemetery authorities as there were many Jewish graves in that area. The selection of Prof Friedlaender's former plot appears not to have been turned down because the cemetery records recorded him as Protestant.

Police and officers from the department of state protection were present at the funeral, the Church said, and the cemetery authorities were aware of the dead man's neo-Nazi links. The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany said that he was shocked at what had happened.

Josef Schuster said it was unbearable that right-wing extremists should "haunt" the grave of Prof Friedlaender, and in doing so they had desecrated his memory.

The Protestant Church itself had approved Hafenmayer's being given a plot (though not this specific one) despite his neo-Nazi connections, on the principle that everyone had the right to a final resting place, it said, but there were no Protestant ministers at the ceremony.

Jewish graves and Holocaust memorials have been vandalised previously by neo-Nazis in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

The Berlin official in charge of combating anti-Semitism, Samuel Salzborn, has launched a legal action against the mourners for allegedly disturbing the peace of the dead and for racial incitement. --BBCi


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A man has died in northern Israel after he fell from a hot air balloon and landed on top of a moving car.

Israeli media reported that the man, in his 20s, was a member of the balloon's ground crew who was left hanging on to the balloon's basket after it took off.

The balloon's passengers tried to pull him inside, but he slipped and fell about 100m (330ft) onto a car driving along a highway near the town of Afula.

Paramedics said the man was declared dead at the scene.

The people who were inside the car did not require medical treatment, and the balloon and its passengers landed safely nearby.

The incident will be investigated by the police and civil aviation authority.

"Apparently he is a ground crew member who was supposed to be on the ground and not in the air, who for some unknown reason found himself hanging onto the balloon," local police officer Cpl Slava Bonchuk told the Ynet website.

"People are in shock. This is a very difficult case."


WOODBURY, NY -- Global pop star and active IDF soldier, Sergeant Noa Kirel, performed Tuesday at a concert organized by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Long Island Chapter at the Woodbury Jewish Center.
Kirel – an emerging international sensation who last year signed a deal with Atlantic Records -- sang with (or as part of) the IDF Musical Ensemble at the event. All proceeds from the event will go towards the building of a synagogue at the IDF Yahalom Unit Base.
“The experience of performing in Long Island and meeting the incredible Jewish community there was unforgettable,” said Kirel. “For me, to see so many people gathering to support the soldiers of the IDF was truly heartwarming and reminded me that I'm part of something big – the Jewish People. It was truly an honor and a privilege to take part of this event – and I want to thank FIDF for creating this wonderful opportunity.”
"We had the pleasure of bringing members of our community together to show their support for the IDF soldiers and to engage directly with active-duty soldiers, including the remarkable Noa Kirel,” said FIDF Long Island Chapter Executive Director, Pninit Cole. “We thank everyone who came and look forward to seeing this incredible community at the FIDF North Shore Gala on October 28." 



DANVILLE, IL – Student leaders from Hillel at the University of Illinois recently joined community members from Champaign and Peoria and made the trip to

Danville, Illinois on Sunday to clean 130 gravestones of Danville’s Jewish community.  Danville’s Jewish community dates back to the 1870’s and its cemetery plot goes back to 1905. The cemetery includes the graves of one of Danville’s mayors, a federal judge, merchants and other late members of the City.

The initiative was put together by Hillel and the Danville Jewish community with donations of supplies from the Libman Company. “The Libman family established their company in central Illinois four generations ago[.]  [T]hey immediately understood the importance of honoring one’s ancestors,” Executive Director of Hillel, Erez Cohen said.

“Taking care of the dead is one of the largest honors a person can perform according to Jewish tradition,” a sophomore at the University of Illinois Rachel Weingart said.  “It is a favor that you give that can never be paid back.”

“Danville once had a thriving Jewish community,” a key organizer of the cleaning operation Sybil Mervis said, “to clean their gravestones is to honor their legacy. I am pleased to see that college students at Illinois understand that.”

After cleaning the gravestones, the students were hosted by members of the Danville Jewish community for snacks and a discussion about Jewish traditions revolving around death and burial.

“An event like this is a unique opportunity to connect to generations before you. It is a powerful moment for everyone involved in this project,” Senior Jewish Educator at Hillel Heather Paul said.


ASSISI, Italy -- The ceremony took place on October 27, 2021, coinciding with the celebration of "The Spirit of Assisi". The event was staged at Via Borgo San Pietro, location of the Saint Colette Monastery, one of the many other monasteries in Assisi that gave shelter to Jews during WWII.

Marina Rosatti, Curator of the Museum of the Memory, acted as Master of Ceremonies. She highlighted that the venue for the House of Life plaque is part of the "Road of Salvation", where other convents are located, such as the Stimmatine, San Giuseppe, San Quirico il Vescovado, from which the Bishop of Assisi, Monsignor Placido Nicolini, conducted the clandestine rescue network.

The City of Assisi was represented by its Mayor, Dr. Stefania Proietti, who pointed-out the pride of the residents of her town. She underlined the fact that the then Mayor of Assisi, Arnaldo Fortini, despite his being a Fascist, went out of his way to save the persecuted Jews.

The Wallenberg Foundation was represented by her Vice-President, Silvia Costantini and the Coordinator of the Houses of Life program in Italy, Elena Colitto Castelli. The former portrayed Assisi as a "Anthem of Life", underscoring the fact that during the tragic period of the Holocaust, none of the residents of Assisi had denounced to the enemy the existence of the rescue network.  She went on by saying "that there is nothing more suitable than proclaiming Assisi as a House of Life".

Mother Superior of the Colettine Monastery, sister Theresei Miriam, related the story of the Finzi family, whose members were sheltered at this institution. Sister Miriam pointed out that despite the fact the Monastery was closed, Monsignor Nicolini authorized the nuns to welcome and shelter Jewish children.

A pupil of the "A. Casagrande – F. Cesi" of Terni, presented to the audience the project carried out by her and her class-mates, entitled "Memory beyond the rite".

Ms. Elena Colitto Castelli told the story of one of the survivors, Mirjam Vitterbi, a Jewish child from Pauda who was saved in Assis.

Monsignor Gualdo Tadino, Bishop of the Diocese of Assisi stated that "Mankind in all its cultural and religious manifestations settle the roots of the shared fraternity, for the unique paternity is the one of G[-]d".

A couple of local students unveiled the House of Life plaque, underscoring the importance of involving the young generations in this initiative.

Letters were read from HE Dror Eydar, Ambassador of Israel in Italy, Ms. Ruth Dureghello, President of the Jewish Community of Rome and Ms. Noemi Di Segni, President of the Jewish Umbrella Organization in Italy.

At the end of the ceremony, the audience visited the Museum of the Memory, founded in 2011, thanks to the tireless efforts of Marina Rinaldi. Back in 2018, the Museum changed its venue to the Bishopric of Assisi, following an initiative of Monsignor Sorrentino.


NEW YORK -- Ahead of Wednesday’s scheduled Senate vote on the Freedom to Vote Act, key legislation that would establish a series of national standards to give fair access to our democracy to all Americans, T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights organization representing over 2,300 rabbis and cantors and their communities in North America, endorsed the federal legislation and condemned continued attempts from state lawmakers to suppress voting.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah, released the following statement: “Congress must pass The Freedom to Vote Act now in order to fulfill their obligation to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to allow free and fair elections across the country.

“It is no exaggeration to say that American democracy is at stake, as state legislators in 49 states have introduced a total of more than 400 voter suppression bills. These bills will have the primary impact of making it more onerous for people of color to vote. Rather than promote the policies Americans actually want, right-wing politicians who recognize their popularity is shrinking are simply making it more difficult for people with whom they disagree, and particularly for communities of color to cast their ballots.

“Without the protections ensured by the Freedom to Vote Act, including automatic and same-day voter registration, two weeks for early voting and the establishment of Election Day as a public holiday, an individual’s ability to vote freely and easily would continue to be determined by their zip code.

“While Judaism does not prescribe democracy or any other particular form of government, Jewish law does insist on taking stock of the opinion of the collective, and on building a society that treats everyone with justice. The Talmud teaches, ‘A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted’ (Brakhot 55a). A primary project of Jewish textual tradition is grappling with how best to construct a society that serves every person’s needs and how to ensure that our leaders do what is right and just. One step we can take today toward a more just and compassionate society is guaranteeing that every voter has the ability to cast their ballot fairly.   

“The United States has offered the Jewish community a sense of safety and equality that we have rarely experienced in our history. We know that this safety is predicated on the country’s identity as a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious democracy. Only by guaranteeing a fully participatory democracy — a democracy in which people of all races, ethnicities, religious backgrounds and economic classes have a voice and the potential to thrive — can a truly representative government, the hallmark of American democracy, be achieved. We urge the Senate to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and protect the ability of all Americans to safely and freely cast our ballots.”

Last spring, T’ruah presented the Raphael Lemkin Human Rights Award to Marc Elias, a prominent Jewish lawyer who has worked tirelessly to stop legislation that would harm voting rights. At the time, he warned, “Right now, in state legislatures around the country, Black and Brown voters are having their voting rights taken away. We need to not be tired of the fight. We need to not think that the fight is over. It is our obligation as Jews to keep up the fight." T’ruah is dedicated to continuing this fight to end voter suppression, especially in communities of color, and to enacting election reforms so every adult citizen can have their say in our government."

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights mobilizes a network of more than 2,300 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism that, together with the Jewish community, act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Jewish Observer,

Los Angeles


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         4-10 Kislev, 5782                                                                Nov. 8-14, 2021 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES--661th Web Ed.