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Newsdesk October 1, 2004

Wexler: Probe FBI Prober

Rep. Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat, sent a letter to President Bush on Wednesday asking him to investigate David Szady, the FBI’s assistant director for counterintelligence, who is leading the investigation of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

“Given the fact that no information has surfaced to substantiate the highly incriminating accusations against Aipac, I am perplexed by the manner in which you and your administration have handled this case,” Wexler said in a letter to the president. “As such, I urge you to take immediate action to ameliorate the unconscionable circumstances surrounding the investigation of Aipac, including — but not limited to — ending egregious press leaks from the administration and providing Congress with further information about this case.”

Several Jewish communal officials have previously raised concerns about Szady’s role several years ago in investigating a Jewish lawyer at the CIA. Wexler said Bush should determine whether Szady has targeted Jews unfairly, and if so, remove him from the case and fire him.

Settlers Investigated

West Bank settlers are suspected of assaulting a middle-aged couple from the Christian Peacemaker group. The couple were set upon by five masked men while escorting Palestinian children to school near Hebron on Wednesday. One victim suffered a broken arm, the other a punctured lung. The victims said their attackers came from the Maon settlement and spoke Hebrew and English. The police said “all angles” in the case were being investigated.

Iraqi Minister Meets Jews

Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan met last week with Malcolm Hoenlein and James Tisch, the executive vice chairman and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, respectively.

This marked what appeared to be the first meeting between American Jewish officials and Iraqi leaders, Hoenlein said. It came amid the flurry of diplomatic meetings surrounding the opening of the annual United Nations General Assembly.

Sarna Wins Top Prize

Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, was awarded the top prize in the National Jewish Book Awards. Sarna won for “American Judaism,” his new history of Jews in America.

Hate Music Aimed at Kids

A company with links to hate groups is planning to distribute sampler CDs to American students, the Anti-Defamation League said. Panzerfaust Records, a neo-Nazi label based in Minnesota, is planning to distribute 100,000 CDs featuring white-power bands to students aged 13 to 19, the ADL said. The company said that white supremacist volunteers are being called upon to distribute the music.

Shul Booted Over Sermon

A synagogue in New York City is losing support from its umbrella organization because it invited a gay rabbi to give a sermon during Rosh Hashanah, according to news reports. The Union for Traditional Judaism is pulling its support from the Montauk Minyan, which featured Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg as one of its speakers during the holiday, New York Jewish Week reported. A spokesman for the small congregation said that Greenberg did not address gay or lesbian issues during his talk. But the union said homosexual behavior is incompatible with Jewish law.

The union was founded nearly two decades ago by disgruntled Conservative rabbis and laymen who opposed the movement’s decision to ordain women rabbis.

Dylan: Time To Pray

Bob Dylan attended Yom Kippur services at a Chabad synagogue in Minnesota. Rabbi Moshe Feller, who is head of Lubavitch of Minnesota as well as Dylan’s longtime acquaintance, led the services.

The cultural icon was granted the honor of reciting one of the aliya blessings over the Torah and was engrossed in the prayers, according to a participant who asked not to be identified. “He was a Jew who came to daven like everyone else,” the participant said.

House Backs ‘Under God’

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to keep the term “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The bill, which passed the House 247-173 on September 23, is unlikely to stand for a vote in the Senate this year. It would prevent federal courts from hearing cases regarding the pledge’s constitutionality. This year, the Supreme Court heard a case about whether the phrase violated the separation of church and state, but did not rule on its merits.

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