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Newsdesk September 19, 2003

Abdullah, Jewish Leaders Meet

Jordan is seeking the right timing to send its ambassador back to Tel Aviv and will “hopefully” do that soon, Jordan’s King Abdullah II told a small group of Jewish community leaders in Washington Monday.

The king, currently in the United States for a meeting with President Bush, was “upbeat and friendly” according to participants, and spoke about Israeli-Jordanian economic and diplomatic relations. The kingdom withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv three years ago, following the outbreak of hostilities in the West Bank and Gaza.

In his half-hour meeting with a small group of Jewish organizational leaders, the king focused on Mideast strategic affairs and emphasized the need for a concerted international effort to confront terrorism.

In an interview Monday on NBC’s “Today” show, Abdullah said he still sees hope for the road map peace plan but said Israel and Arafat were responsible for the resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Neo-Nazi Attack Foiled in Munich

German police defused a neo-Nazi plot to bomb the ground-breaking ceremony for Munich’s new synagogue and community center. The ceremony is set to take place November 9, the 65th anniversary of the German pogroms known as Kristallnacht and will be attended by German President Johannes Rau and the president of the Central Council of German Jews, Paul Spiegel.

“The attackers chose as their targets not an empty construction site, but people,” said Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Munich Jewish community.

Bavarian Minister of the Interior Guenther Beckstein warned last week of increased terror threats. “In recent months there has been an obvious escalation,” Beckstein said. “The threats have reached a new dimension.”

Beckstein termed the neo-Nazi group the “Brown Army Faction,” likening them to the Red Army Faction, a terrorist group that was responsible for numerous attacks in the 1970s. Ten men have been arrested since last week in connection with the plot. During the arrests, police found 30 pounds of explosives and a small cache of arms, along with a list of other potential targets, which included several mosques, a Greek school and a leader of the Social Democratic Party.

But the most deeply symbolic target was the new synagogue.

The ground-breaking for the new Jewish center was pointedly planned for the anniversary of Kristallnacht to symbolize the recent rebirth of Jewish life in Germany. Since 1991, the Jewish community in the country has grown from 30,000 to over 100,000 with the arrival of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Now, though, the planned attacks stand as the most visible example of the rising number of antisemitic incidents across Europe.

“The construction of the center was a light at the end of the tunnel in these hard times,” said Munich’s Knobloch. “Just the fact that we have to be watching behind us again is an absolute catastrophe.”

The leader of the neo-Nazi cell, Martin Weise, recently moved to Bavaria, the historic center of the Nazi party, from his home in the small, former East German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which has become renowned as the new home of German antisemitism.

Terrorists Charged in Germany

Four men were charged in Germany with plotting to attack Jewish sites.

One of the four men associated with a terrorist group known as Al Tawhid has testified that the men planned to attack a Jewish site in Berlin and a Jewish-owned bar or disco in Dusseldorf.

The charges were filed August 27 but were only made public on September 11.

Minister Floats Conspiracy Theory

A book by a former German Cabinet minister suggesting the CIA or Mossad was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks is third on the country’s bestseller list.

News of the popularity of the book by Andreas von Bulow, reported by Reuters, comes amid reports that conspiracy theories regarding September 11 are gaining ground.

Groups Back Kin of Arab Victim

Jewish groups lent their support to a new bill that would allow the family of a victim of an anti-Arab hate crime to remain in the United States.

The bill, introduced Monday by Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, would give green cards to the wife and four daughters of Waqar Hasan, who was shot at a convenience store four days after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

A letter from religious and other community leaders to Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana, the Republican chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration, called Hasan a victim of the terror attacks. Without the legislation, the family stands to be deported.

Florida Synagogue Rebuilding

A ground-breaking ceremony was held for a synagogue in Florida being rebuilt after a 2001 arson.

Monday’s ceremony at B’nai Zion Synagogue in Key West, Fla., comes two years after a deliberately set fire destroyed most of the building.

Justice: U.S. Can Learn From Israel

The United States could learn from Israel’s experience in balancing national security and respecting civil rights, Stephen Breyer said.

The U.S. Supreme Court justice said September 12 in a speech at Columbia Law School that Israeli judges have found compromises that acknowledge security risks while trying to respect human rights.

Breyer cited as an example security defendants who are not allowed to name their own lawyer to visit them because of fear that they might pass on terrorist instructions but are permitted to choose from a list of court-appointed lawyers for such visits.

Iran Ordered To Pay Victims

Iran was ordered to pay more than $400 million to eight Americans injured in a 1997 terrorist attack in Jerusalem. An American judge ruled last week that Iran bore the responsibility for the attack, perpetrated by members of Hamas, since Iran supports the terrorist group. Five people were killed and nearly 200 wounded in the September 4, 1997, attack.

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