Newsdesk April 1, 2005

By Forward Staff and Jta

Published April 01, 2005, issue of April 01, 2005.
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Chess Masters Slam Jews

The two combatants in the world’s most famous chess match, Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, have both generated recent headlines with antisemitic statements.

Fischer, who won the classic 1972 match, launched into his standard anti-Western and anti-Jewish diatribes after he was freed last week from a Japanese prison, where he was held on passport violation charges. He arrived March 25 in Iceland, where the original match took place.

“The U.S. is evil,” Fischer said at a news conference, where he accused the “Jew-controlled U.S. government” of ruining his life.

Though Fischer’s mother was Jewish, his antisemitism is legendary.

Meanwhile, Spassky recently joined 5,000 people in signing a letter to Russia’s prosecutor general, calling for a ban on Jewish organizations, according to The Moscow Times. The letter comes two months after 20 Russian lawmakers made a similar request, which was repudiated by the Russian Parliament.

Fischer’s legal problems stem from a 1992 rematch between the two grand masters, which was held in Yugoslavia in violation of American sanctions.

Detainee Probe Urged

Some military detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been told by military interrogators not to trust their Jewish lawyers, according to a report in The New York Times.

“This is a travesty twice over,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, said in a statement issued Tuesday. “It’s a violation of American principle that military personnel at Guantanamo are trying to scare prisoners away from legal representation. To do so by encouraging cultural hatred is despicable.”

Nadler will write Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, his spokesman said, seeking an investigation into the allegations. A Defense Department spokesman had no comment on the allegations but noted that there is an ongoing investigation into alleged detainee abuse in Cuba.

Chabad Books Hearing Set

American lawmakers scheduled a hearing on Chabad-Lubavitch’s efforts to recover Jewish books from the Russian government. On April 6, the Helsinki Commission will hear from Jewish leaders about efforts to garner the “Schneerson Collection.” Edward O’Donnell, the State Department’s special envoy for Holocaust issues, is expected to attend; a representative from the Russian government has been invited, as well. Lubavitch said that about 12,000 volumes were seized from the fifth Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, as part of a crackdown on religion a few years after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Israeli Envoy Shot

Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia was in critical condition after an apparent suicide attempt. Doron Grossman was flown to Israel Wednesday with a gunshot wound to the head, the Foreign Ministry said. Security sources said the injured Grossman, 48, was discovered in an Addis Ababa hotel room Tuesday with his handgun by his side. Terrorism was being ruled out; suicide appeared to be the main motive for the incident, the sources said.

An investigative team was sent to Ethiopia.

Candidate Slams Mayor

A Mississippi politician accused the mayor of Vicksburg of not caring about urban renewal because he is Jewish. Rodney Dillamar, who is running as a Democratic candidate for city alderman, was involved in a heated on-air dispute March 23 with Mayor Laurence Leyens over whether city officials are trying to shut blacks out of businesses in downtown Vicksburg.

Dillamar questioned Leyens’s commitment to renewal in the area. “He doesn’t even believe in Jesus Christ, so how can he say he cares about the churches?” Dillamar said.

Nazi Research Extended

President Bush signed a measure extending a group charged with declassifying Nazi and Japanese war crimes from World War II. Last Friday Bush signed a two-year extension of the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Interagency Working Group. The group, founded in 1999, is charged with locating and expediting the release of Nazi war criminal records.

Florida Lawmaker Dies

William Lehman, a Jewish congressman from Florida famed for his human-rights advocacy, died at 91. A liberal Democrat who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 to 1993, Lehman died March 16 in Miami Beach. Alabama-born Lehman opened a car dealership in a black neighborhood in Miami in the 1930s, and was virtually the only dealer in the area who would finance black buyers in the 1940s and ’50s. As a school board member in the 1960s, he fought to integrate Miami schools. He controlled billions of dollars as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s transportation subcommittee.

He also favored Israel and the cause of Soviet Jewry.

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