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July 3, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 3, 2009 PAGE 5A Questions about case against ex-AIPAC staffers that won't go away ByAbbe D. Lowell, Baruch Weiss and John Nassikas WASHINGTON (JTA),--It was just eight weeks ago that the U.S. Justice Depart- ment asked a federal court to dismiss the Espionage Act charges that had been pending against formerAIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weiss- man for four years. The case was as hard fought as litigation could be. There were hundreds of motions and pleadings, dozens of days of court hearings, battles over everything from the consti- tutionality of the charges to whether the defense would be allowed to call former Sec- retary of State Condoleezza Rice to testify, 13 published court opinions and even an unusual mid-case appeal by the government to the Court of Appeals. Then, with 30 days to go before trial, the government abruptly left the battlefield and, despite all the bravado by which it brought the charges, moved to dismiss the charges without a trial. The court agreed. So what might have been the trial of the era--with allegations of classified infor- mation and former high-level Bush administration officials being forced to testify as defense witnesses and the coming to light of the way the back-channel diplomacy of foreign affairs in Washington is really conducted--ended with more of a whimper than a bang. The end of the case was appropriate--it should never have been filed in the first place. The innocent formerAIPAC employees Rosen and Weiss- man should not have had to questions the case raises for the government to answer. Why in the mid- to late 1990s was the government's counter-intelligence appara- tus selectively aimed at the pro-Israel foreign policy lobby in general and AIPAC in par- ticular, when the same case could have been made against literally hundreds of other lobbyists and journalists for discussing foreign policy issues that might implicate classified information? How could the government create a trap for Rosen and Weissman by dangling the warning that "lives were in suffer one more minute, let danger" without expecting alone weeks of trial, under an these moral men to act? unjust indictment. The prob- lem with its anti-climactic ending, however, is that so many important questions raised by the case might go unanswered. The potential impactthis prosecution could have had on the First Amend- ment and foreign policy discussions, and the govern- ment's work with groups like AIPAC, is too important to allow this case to be so easily forgotten. There is a legal pad full of When it was pointed out that the case did not actually involve real espionage, that there was no classified docu- ments ever involved, that the work by Rosen and Weissman was part of their jobs and not something outside the norm, and that there was no spying, bribery, theft or secret meet- ings, how did the government allow the case to continue? And what finally brought the government to its senses after spending literally millions of dollars investigating and prosecuting these two men for nearly a decade? A few weeks ago some 125 rabbis from across the country wrote toAttorney General Eric Holder raising these and other questions. Given the signifi- cance of the case to the Jewish community, it is appropriate that the Jewish community take the lead in asking these questions and not let the case just fade away. However, the Jewish community should be asking questions not only of the government but also to itself. Here is just a start: As the government was apt to do over the past eight or nine years, it put pressure on AIPAC, as if it were some corporation like Enron or Worldcom, to isolate Rosen and Weissman, fire them and emasculate them from fighting back by cutting off payment of their legal fees. Why did AIPAC take these steps? Just because the gov- ernment was attempting to paint a damning picture of the AIPAC employees, didn't Rosen and Weissman deserve the true benefit of the doubt and presumption of innocence that they earned from more than 40 years of combined service? Had the law firms rep- resenting the two men not agreed to continue without full compensation (AIPAC ultimately agreed to less than half of what is owed), the out- come of this case could have been different, but the blame would not have gone to the defendants for their conduct but to the community that abandoned them. AIPAC is not the only orga- nization that needs to explain. Other Jewish groups acted no better. In January 2002, Israel intercepted the cargo ship Karine A loaded with weapons intended to be used by the Palestinians against Israel. Some of the allegedly illegal disclosures made by Rosen and Weissman related to the Karine A episode. It was important to Rosen's and Weissman's defense to show that the Karine A informa- tion was already public and being discussed openly by administration officials. One such official was then Special Jews should confront racism in Israel, too By Gila Orkin JERUSALEM (JTA)--The gains made by far-rightparties across Europe in the recent European parliamentary elec- tions are certainly cause for concern. But Europe is not the only place Jews should be concerned about the far right rising. It's happening in Israel, too. In Europe, analysts have commented on the interplay of factors that contributed to the success of overtly racist and ultranationalist parties such as the British National Party in Britain and the Freedom Party in the Neth- erlands. There is the public mood of fear, frustration and uncertainty fueled by the global economic downturn. There is the prevalence of anti-Islamic sentiment and skepticism of the European Union. There was low voter turnout and a protest vote by those disenchanted with the mainstream left in the wake of the economic crisis, political scandals, and fears over rising immigration and unemployment. In such a turbulent cli- mate, far-right parties with platforms based on fear- mongering and extremism were well-positioned to pull invotes. Rightfully, Jewish leaders across the world have been quick to express their conster- nation over the alarming elec- tion results. The European Jewish Congress, for example, decried the "use of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic campaigns" and insisted that there "be no tolerance for any elected officials or political parties to espouse racism or anti-Semitism in any form or under any circumstance." Israel also has seen the far right rise to prominence and power in recent months. The sweeping popularity of Avigdor Lieberman's anti- Arab ideology and rhetoric in the campaign leading up to the national elections in February won his Yisrael Beiteinu Party 15 seats in the Knesset. It is now the second- largest'party in the governing coalition, and Lieberman has assumed the coveted post of foreign minister. Lieberman's ultra-right- wing party campaigned on a racist platform that fanned the flames of fear and hostility toward Israel's Arab minority. Propelled by the slogan "No loyalty, no citizenship," Lieber- man's key policy proposal was to make Israeli citizenship con- tingent on pledging a loyaity oath to Israel as a Jewish state and was directed primarily against Israel's Arab citizens. The other campaign slogan, "Only Lieberman understands Arabic," was steeped in dema- goguery and unbridled racism. Staying true to campaign promises, Yisrael Beiteinu already has played an instru- mental role in pushing for- ward a slew of anti-democratic legislative proposals mainly targeting the Arab minority. These bills include the Nakba bill, which would make it a criminal offense to hold a public event commemorating Israel's Independence Day as a "Nakba," or catastrophe, for the Palestinian people; and the loyalty oath bill, which would require new immigrants and 16-year-old Israelis to swear allegiance to the"State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state" as a precondition for obtaining an Israeli identity card. Lieberman, like his far- rightcounterparts in Europe, scored significant electoral success in a time of crisis and uncertainty. The election took place in the immedi- ate aftermath of the war in Governments must open eyes to hate crimes By Paul LeGendre NEW YORK (JTA)--The hateful murder of Special Police Officer Stephen Johns as he guarded the entrance to the U.S. Holocaust Memo- rial Museum was a troubling reminder that anti-Semitism still thrives in the United States. But the reminder should not stop there: Anti- Semitic and other violent hate crimes know no boundaries and are on the rise, from Washington to Europe and beyond. The Holocaust museum tragedy is a clarion call for governments to respond more vigorously to crimes fueled by intolerance and discrimi- nation. Unfortunately, far too many governments have disre- garded or downplayed the issue, resulting in a startling escalation in anti-Semitic and other violent hate crimes. Only 13 of the 56 countries that make up the Organiza- tion for Security and Coop- eration in Europe, the world's largest regional security body, have adequate hate crimes monitoring and reporting systems in place. More than 40 nations in the OSCE, which includes North America and Europe, as well as former Soviet republics, currently fail to monitor and publicly report onviolent hate crimes, leaving government officials without a clear picture of the growing problem. And it is a growing problem. In 2007, violent anti-Semitic crimes rose in a number of countries where official and nongovernmental data is available--Canada, Germany, Russia, Ukraine and the Unit- ed Kingdom. This increasing violence across the continent over the past several years has been boosted periodi- cally by international events. Most recently, in January, anti-Semitic violence surged dramatically in apparent response to Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip. The details of some of these violent attacks are most disturbing. In Paris, one young student was stabbed four times and a 15-year-old Jewish girl was assaulted by a gang of young anti-Semites. In Britain, there was widespread violence against synagogues and ram- pant hate speech. In Belgium, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a synagogue. In Germany, cemeteries were vandalized. The phenomenon goes beyond Europe's borders: In Venezuela, men broke into Caracas synagogue and Jew- ish schools had to be shut for several days to protect students. To address the question of hate crimes--on an everyday basis as well as at moments of heightened international concern--and combat the spread of anti-Semitism, government leaders must take proactive steps to immediately condemn violent acts when- ever they occur. There are some positive footsteps to follow: In Janu- ary, French President Nicolas Sarkozy engaged Jewish, Muslim and Catholic religious leaders in a process in which they all resolutely denounced violence. And Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the first leader to sign the London Declaration against Anti-Semitism and urge his Hate on page 23A Envoy to the Middle East General Anthony Zinni. The general had discussed his private meetingwith then- PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat Concerning the Karine A at a dinner attended by Rosen, who was still with AIPAC at the time, and representatives of three other major Jewish organizations. The defense sought help from the repre- sentatives of the organiza- tions attending the dinner to show that the information at issue already was public and being openly discussed by U.S. officials. One of the attendees had his organization decline the invitation to meet and be interviewed; one agreed to meet but said he did not remember any details of the meeting (despite its critical importance at the time); and  one agreed to meet but was' reluctant to testify about what he had heard. How could all these com- munity groups cause their officials to run from simply telling the truth of what hap- - pened when doing so could have made the difference Questions on page 23A Gaza, when militarism and extreme nationalism were at an all-time high among Jewish Israelis, and against the backdrop of security threats, economic instability and dwindling public faith in democratic politics. Like his European coun- terparts, Lieberman con- structed an ultranationalist campaign that tapped into the public's fears while feed- ing on and fueling the grow- ing atmosphere of racism and intolerance in Israel. And, like his European counterparts, Lieberman deserves unequivocal con- demnation for his racist and anti-democratic messages and policy proposals. It is the duty of the Jewish leadership around the world to speak out against racism in any form, even when it emanates from Israel. There can be no tolerance for elected officials who incite against minorities and propagate racism anywhere and under any circumstance. Out of a sense of moral responsibility and credibility, Jewish leaders across the globe must take a strong and consistent stand against racist policies and values promoted by the far right in Israel. The disturbing trends that we are witnessing in Is- rael threaten to undermine Israel's democratic founda- tions and are contrary to universal human rights values and basic Jewish principles. For those who care deeply about Israel, about Jewish values, and about democracy and equal- ity for all, now is the time to unite around a common message that says no to racism, wherever it arises. Gila Orkin is the director of international relations at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Dry Bones THE VtJLCAN USED TO FLATTEN A ;LY