Anti-Semitism in Pakistan — hate on a sliding scale




This is the second of two parts on Pakistan and terror. Previously: Pakistan Reaction: Something dark is growing in our own backyard


Right in the middle of Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, stands one of the most recognized symbols of Judaism: the Star of David. It adorns, in relief, Merewether Tower, one of the city’s best-known landmarks, a 112-foot-tall clock tower built by Sir Evans James in 1892. Today, a busy transit intersection has developed around the tower, which hundreds of thousands of Muslims pass each day Complete coverage of Mumbai Chabad attackon their way to work.

Nadeem Ahmed, a broker at the Karachi Stock Exchange located just across the street, points to some old graffiti at the base of the tower that reads “Israel na manzoor” (Israel is not acceptable).

“These marks show the anger of some fanatics for the brutality of Israelis against the Muslims of Palestine and Lebanon,” he says. “Frankly speaking, I’m neither happy nor sad about the Jews who were killed in Mumbai.”

Ahmed’s apathy falls right in the middle of the spectrum of Pakistani attitudes toward Jews. At one end are the virulently anti-Semitic beliefs held by people such as the members of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), Army of the Pure, a banned terrorist outfit operating in Kashmir. The LeT is suspected of being behind the attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai and the murder of the five Jews, including Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah.

At the other end of the spectrum are Pakistanis such as Maria (not her real name), a Shia who converted to Judaism, married a Jewish professor whom she met during her studies in the United States and with whom she has two children.

Unfortunately, tragedies such as what took place in Mumbai last month, in New York in 2001 and in London in 2005, as well as the 2002 murder in Karachi of Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent Daniel Pearl, throw the spotlight on only one end of the spectrum in Pakistan and give the worst impression of Muslims. The other end lies in the dark — the many other variations of how Pakistani Muslims perceive Jews are left out of the picture.

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Pakistan Reaction: Something dark is growing in our own backyard




This is the first of two parts on Pakistan and terror. Next week: Anti-Semitism and Pakistan.


“Abhi India me pat’ta bhi nahi hil sakega.”

“Now even a leaf will need permission to stir in India,” remarked R, a young Indian woman at an expat dinner off London’s Baker Street on the Saturday after the Mumbai bombing. She was deep in discussion with three Pakistanis and nine fellow Indians about the expected tightening in security measures after the tragedy.

“It will be like the U.S. after 9/11,” she said, as heads nodded in agreement around the room. One of the Pakistanis opened her mouth but shut it quickly.

For Pakistanis at home, the fear is more palpable. It is not necessarily fear of immediate violence, but of something much darker growing in our very own backyard. Initially, the tragedy had seemed somewhat distant, but then came the damning reports that the terrorists used a boat to travel from Karachi. If Complete coverage of Mumbai Chabad attackproven true, this confirms yet again what the people of Karachi (and all over Pakistan) have known for a long time, that this city is being used as a base for terror groups. The long-term implications are terrifying. In the short term, Pakistan is worried that, as in 2001, when the Kashmir-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) — the same group being named for the Mumbai terror — attacked the Indian parliament, the two countries could be brought to the brink of war.

Caution vs. the Blame Game

The Mumbai attacks made front-page news across Pakistan in the English-, Urdu- and regional-language media. All political statements condemning the merciless assault were carried, and Pakistan was one of the first countries to make its stance clear.

However, much of the media debates were fed by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that it was evident the group that carried out the attacks was based outside the country, and that India would act against any neighboring country that allowed itself to be used as a base for attacking India. These words raised alarm bells all over Pakistan and in a way have provided a case study of the divisions between the English and Urdu media. Also important was that President Asif Ali Zardari denied any Pakistani role in the attacks, pledged action against any group found to be involved, and advised New Delhi not to “over-react.”

The timing of the Mumbai attacks is extremely suspicious to some analysts. It just so happens that whenever the government of Pakistan reaches out to work on peace with India, something terrible happens to sabotage the process. Sabotage may be a strong word to use here, but consider Taliban expert Ahmed Rashid’s words. The author of “Descent Into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia” said on Nov. 4, just weeks before the attacks, that he would hardly be surprised if something were to happen to derail the talks initiated by Zardari. He gave examples of how the military had sabotaged diplomatic efforts for peace with India in the past: Benazir Bhutto met Rajiv Gandhi in her first term, following which problems in Kashmir flared up; Nawaz Sharif met with A.B. Vajpayee, following which then-President Pervez Musharraf went into Kargil, a border hot spot with the two countries.

Thus, there are sections of society and the media that harbor a general mistrust, and help perpetuate it between the two countries, despite the fact that the two were one nation for hundreds of years until 1947. Some sections of the Urdu media exemplify this stance. They condemned the loss of life, but nonetheless fed into the blame game, an old tack. Their opinions ranged from the alarmist to the paranoid. Jang, one of the more widely read Urdu newspapers, warned in an editorial that Pakistan should be careful. But the editorial’s use of the word “propaganda” against Muslims to malign Pakistan had an old-school ring to it. The same line was taken by daily Urdu newspaper Nawa-i-Waqt, saying in its editorial that this was part of a “great game” by America, India and Israel against Pakistan.

Daily Urdu Ummat went so far as to indirectly support the “Deccan Mujahideen” by saying that their demands for the independence of Kashmir were “proof” enough that India could not “oppress” its Muslim populations for long. Urdu daily Khabrain chose to extrapolate on the earlier arrest of one Indian army lieutenant colonel for conspiracy by saying that India needed to get its own house in order. Similarly, daily Urdu newspaper Express felt that the “Indian rulers ought to change their thinking of hatred towards Pakistan,” urging them to look in their own backyard for terrorists hiding there, a reference to the time when Hindu extremists attacked a church in Mumbai.

This is not to say that one should dismiss the possibility of homegrown terrorism for India. But as some sections of the English media demonstrated, in a much more cautious, balanced and well-informed tone, there is another way of factoring that into the analysis of the situation rather than just by being accusing. For example, Dr. Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a well-respected political and defense analyst, pointed out in an op-ed piece in Daily Times that the blame game between India and Pakistan serves the political agendas of both hard-line Hindus and hard-line Muslims, who have always opposed normalization of India-Pakistan relations.

“India will soon learn what Pakistan already knows: It is not easy to control shadowy militant groups, especially when they cultivate support in sections of society,” he wrote.

Similarly, in its editorial, Dawn — one of the most widely circulated and oldest English newspapers — cautioned that those implicated in previous attacks in India have been homegrown Muslim militants. “In addition, Hindu militants have been linked to attacks targeting Muslims and Christians in India. What this all clearly adds up to is that India has a massive problem of domestic terrorism that it appears ill equipped to respond to…. But Pakistan cannot afford to be smug as India suffers. We have a grave problem of militancy, and the attacks in Mumbai are a grim reminder of the endless possibilities of terror.” These voices, mostly from the English media, acknowledge the problem, but instead of perpetuating insular rhetoric colored by anti-Semitic bias, urge cooperation; opinion based on historical trends and emerging facts; and transborder, regional solutions — given that the terrorists operate globally.

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Photo: The Chabad House in Mumbai (before.) Next page: Chabad House interior (after)

Remember the victims, hate their killers


All terrorism is monstrous, but the murder of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, by religious Islamic extremists stands out for its unspeakable infamy.

The deliberate targeting of a small Jewish center and its married young directors, whose only purpose it was to provide for the religious needs of a community and feed travelers, proves that those who perpetrated this crime are bereft not only of even a hint of humanity, but every shred of faith as well.

Complete coverage of Mumbai Chabad attackThe world’s most aggressive atheists are more religious than these spiritual charlatans and pious frauds. When Osama bin Laden, whose beard masks the face of the ultimate religious hypocrite, attacked the World Trade Center in New York, the target was purportedly chosen as the very symbol of American materialism and excess.

But what could these “religious” people have been thinking in exterminating a twenty-something couple with two babies, who moved from the world’s richest country to India to provide religious services and faith to the poor and the needy? What blow against Western decadence were they striking by targeting a Chabad house, whose entire purpose it is to spread spirituality to people whose lives lack it?

Now is not only a time to remember the victims, but to hate their killers. One cannot love the innocent without simultaneously loathing those who orphan their children.

I know how uncomfortable people feel about hatred. It smacks of revenge. It poisons the heart of those who hate. But this is true only if we hate the good, the innocent or the neutral. Hating monsters, however, motivates us to fight them. Only if an act like this repulses us to our core will we summon the will to fight these devils, so that they can never murder again.

I am well aware that my hero, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” But surely, the great man never meant for this to apply to people like Hitler, who was never going to be stopped by love but only by an eloquent loathing as articulated by Winston Churchill, which summoned an allied campaign to carpet-bomb his war-making apparatus into oblivion.

Indeed, had King’s nonviolent movement not been protected at crucial times by federal marshals and the National Guard, the terrorist thugs of the Ku Klux Klan might have killed every last one of them.

As for my Christian brethren who regularly quote to me Jesus’ famous saying, “Love your enemies,” my response is that our enemies and God’s enemies are different parties altogether. Jesus meant to love those who steal your girlfriend, cut you off on the road or swindle you in a business deal.

But to love those who indiscriminately murder God’s children is an abomination against all that is sacred. Is there a man who is human whose heart is not filled with moral revulsion against terrorists who target a rabbi who feeds the hungry? Would God or Jesus ask me to extend even one morsel of my limited capacity for compassion to fiends, rather than saving every last particle for their victims instead?

Could God really be so unreasonable; could Jesus be so cruel as to ask me to love baby killers? And would such a God be moral if He did? Could I pray to a God who loves terrorists? Could I find comfort in Him knowing that He offers them comfort as well?

No. Such a god would be my enemy. He would abide in Hades rather than heaven. And I would be damned before I would worship him. I will accept an eternity in purgatory rather than a moment of celestial bliss shared with these beasts.

Now is the time for our Muslim cleric brethren to rise in chorus and condemn the repulsive assassins who use Islam to justify their hatred. One such courageous imam, and one of the North America’s most prominent, is my friend Imam Shabir Ali of Toronto, who courageously responded to my call with a public statement the day after the murders:

“Such terrorist attacks are not justifiable on any grounds. Islam cannot condone such murder of innocent civilians. From what you have described, Rabbi and Mrs. Holtzberg are of great service to humanity.

“Our knowledge of their service adds to our sense of loss and grief that such bad things can happen to such good people. Islam is built on the monotheist foundations which the Jewish people struggled for many centuries to maintain in the face of much severe opposition.

“Muslims and Jews should work together for a better world in which the terrorist acts we have seen in Mumbai … are a thing of the past. I pray that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, and that the Lord will compensate the victims with a handsome reward in this world and the next.”

But as the next world is reserved for God, who also has much to answer for as to how He can allow righteous people like the Holtzbergs and all the other Mumbai innocents to die, it is for us the living to recommit to their work. I suggest that best possible response by the world Jewish community to this travesty is to implement a program of a Jewish peace corps to Chabad houses the world over.

Young people, especially students ages 16 to 30, should offer to spend two weeks of each summer volunteering for a Chabad house somewhere in the world to help the emissaries with their very difficult and important work.

This past summer, three of my teen children volunteered to work for Chabad in Cordova, Argentina, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives as they shared in the isolation of a dedicated Chabad family, who have lived there for 20 years to cater to the spiritual needs of the local community.

Finally, the world witnessed how the Holtzberg’s non-Jewish nanny, Sandra Samuels, saved their 2-year-old Moshe’s life, running out with the child while risking being mowed down by machine-gun fire. In that instant, we saw how the religious differences among people pale beside the higher truth of us all being equally God’s children, Indian and Jew, Muslim and Christian, and how acts of courage and compassion are what unite us.

As I write these lines, the State of Israel is being lobbied by the Holtzbergs’ remaining family to grant Samuels immediate citizenship. A hero of her caliber would be an honor to the Jewish state and the request should not be delayed by even a single day.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the founder of This World: The Jewish Values Network. His upcoming book, “The Kosher Sutra,” will be published in January by HarperOne. His Web site is www.shmuley.com.

Grim news from Mumbai hits home


” alt=”complete coverage on mumbai chabad attack” title=”Click here for complete Mumbai Chabad coverage” vspace = 8 hspace = 8 border = 0 align = left>NEW YORK (JTA)—Until confirmation finally came that the Chabad emissaries in Mumbai were among the more than 170 victims killed in this week’s terrorist attacks in India, Chabad Chasidim and emissaries the world over prayed for the best while fearing for the worst.

By the morning of Nov. 28, the hostage standoff at the Chabad’s Nariman House was over some two days after it had begun.

Early that day, witnesses saw a series of explosions at the community center as Indian special forces stormed the site and battled with the gunmen who had taken over the house—one of 10 sites in the city attacked Nov. 26 by terrorists

When the smoke had cleared, the bodies of five hostages were found, including those of the couple that ran the center, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg.

At a Nov. 28 news conference at Chabad world headquarters in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., the mood was one of shock and grief.

“This news is fresh and this news is raw,” the chairman of Chabad’s education and social services arm, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, told reporters. New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly also was on hand.

Chabad has more than 3,500 emissaries, known as schluchim, who run Jewish outreach centers around the world. The centers began to be established at the behest of the late Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Those who knew the Holtzbergs—Gavriel, 29, and Rivka, 28—spoke of them as highly dedicated to the Chabad mission of spreading Judaism to Jews around the globe. The couple moved from Brooklyn to Mumbai in 2003 at the urging of Chabad’s leadership. Their apartment in Colaba, in the southern part of Mumbai, quickly became a hub both for Jews traveling in India—many of them Israeli backpackers traveling in the country following their service in the Israeli army—and for those living in India.

“Jews from all nationalities stopped there—primarily Israelis, but also those from Singapore and other places,” said Elijah Jacob, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s country manager for India. “It was almost like a second home to them. Our country director used to say it was like a second home to him because of all of the Jews there on Shabbat.”

Gavriel “was one of the finest and kindest gentlemen you could imagine,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, the vice chairman of Chabad’s education arm. He recounted the last conversation Gavriel had with the Israeli Embassy, on the night of Nov. 26, shortly after the center was taken over by the terrorists.

“He said, ‘The situation is not good,’ ” Kotlarsky recalled. “And then he was cut off.”

News of the Holtzbergs’ deaths hit hard in the Lubavitch neighborhood of Crown Heights, where tens of thousands of Chabadniks live. In this tight-knit community, nearly everyone is connected to one another.

“It is painful to see,” Rabbi Velvel Farkash said outside of Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway. “It is a deep pain. I really have no words for it.”

Jacob described Gavriel Holtzberg as a community builder in Mumbai, home to some 4,500 Jews living in a western Indian city of 14 million. The city has eight synagogues, mostly in the southern part in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods.

“[Gavriel] helped out with some of the local synagogues. He helped them collect donations and did fund-raising for the synagogue T’feret Israel, in central Mumbai in Jacobs Circle. He helped build a mikveh there,” Jacob, who grew up in India, told JTA.

“He was also officially a shochet [ritual slaughterer] and made chickens available to the community. They also made challah for the community. They were available for the community. If people had questions about halachic principles, what is right and what is wrong in terms of the rights and customs of Judaism, they were basically guiding the local community.”

On Nov. 27, the day after terrorists took over the Chabad House, the gunmen released the Holtzbergs’ 2-year-old son, Moishe, and the building’s cook, Sandra Samuel, who reported that the Chabad emissaries were alive but unconscious. The Holtzbergs have another son who was not in the center when it was captured.

Krinsky said Chabad would take care of Moishe.

“The world of Chabad-Lubavitch and its emissaries will adopt this beautiful toddler, and raise him and give him a beautiful upbringing,” Krinsky said at the news conference.

On the morning of Nov. 28, as reports spread that five of the hostages being held at the Chabad house were dead, Erin Beser was holding out hope that the Chabad emissaries were not among them.

Beser, who spent a year in Mumbai as a volunteer for the JDC, said she spent nearly every Shabbat at the Chabad house during her time in India.

“I was by myself in India for two months as a volunteer,” Beser said. “And in India, your week is just so stressful and foreign, and everything is different, from the food to the climate. But going to Chabad was just like coming home. And I came back every week. If I didn’t come one week, she would call.”

Another victim at the center was Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich, 50, a Mexican citizen who was scheduled to make aliyah on Dec. 1, according to a news release from The Jewish Agency for Israel. Two of her three children already were living in Israel.

Rabinovich, who was visiting the Chabad center, had been traveling in India with the intention of making aliyah at the end of her trip.

Unlike other Chabad houses in the Far East, which see a steady stream of Israeli backpackers, the Nariman House catered more to Israeli and foreign businessmen. A typical Shabbat dinner at the Holtzbergs would include up to 50 guests, ranging from locals to the Israeli consul general and his family, Beser said.

“They were so committed to what they were doing and they were such good people,” Beser said of the Holtzbergs. “They were so welcoming. It was amazing how many people came through that house. And still she was like, ‘How was your week?’ and was able to hold all of this information about what I was doing.”

Chabad rabbi and rebbetzin dead in Mumbai attack


(JTA) – A Chabad rabbi and his wife were among the dead after Indian forces retook a Jewish center in Mumbai, India from terrorist gunmen.

The deaths of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, the Chabad emissaries in Mumbai, were confirmed Friday by the director of American Friends of Lubavitch, Rabbi Levi Shemtov.

Earlier Friday, CNN quoted local Indian media sources as saying that five hostages at the building were dead; the hostages were not identified.

Conflicting reports following the takeover of Mumbai’s Chabad-Lubavitch house in the terrorist attacks in India, which left more than 140 dead, prompted confusion and anxiety surrounding the fate of the house’s occupants, including the Holtzbergs.

Four Israelis were among those freed from the Trident-Oberoi luxury hotel along with other hostages late Friday morning, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

As many as two dozen Israelis, some of whom are thought to have been in the house, remained unaccounted for late Thursday night.

complete coverage on mumbai chabad attackGunmen armed with automatic rifles and grenades struck 10 separate locations in Mumbai on Wednesday night in coordinated attacks at sites frequented by Westerners, including hotels, restaurants and a railway station. Witnesses said the gunmen — who killed more than 120 people, set buildings ablaze and took hostages — targeted Americans, Britons and Jews. Mumbai’s Chabad house was among the targets.

On Thursday afternoon, Indian commandos surrounded the Nariman House, where Chabad is located, with plans to storm in and release the hostages. There reportedly were four terrorists holed up inside with six hostages. Indian special forces reportedly killed one terrorist in the building.

Earlier Thursday, the hostage takers released the Holtzberg’s 2-year-old son and the building’s cook, who said that the couple was alive but unconscious.

The Israeli consul in Mumbai told Israel Radio on Thursday that the consulate was working to locate approximately 25 Israelis known to be in Mumbai who had not contacted their families at home.

The terrorists also took hostages at the Taj Mahal Palace and Trident-Oberoi luxury hotels. The identity of the attackers is not known. A little-known organization calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility.

One terrorist inside the Chabad house called an Indian TV channel Thursday afternoon and offered to enter into talks with the government to release the hostages, Reuters reported.

The Chabad house is located at 5 Hormusji Street in Mumbai. India is a popular destination for young Israeli backpackers, who often make the trip after their army service. The Holtzbergs moved to Mumbai from Brooklyn, New York in 2003 to do Jewish outreach work in India.

One Indian TV channel said five or six Israelis were also among the 100 to 200 hostages being held at the Oberoi hotel, Ynet reported. Some 10 to 15 Israelis are said to be held hostage in sites throughout the city, the Israeli Foreign Ministry told Ynet.

Concern about the fate of the Chabad rabbi and his wife mounted throughout the day, with the Brooklyn-based organization issuing calls for prayer to Jews the world over. The National Council of Young Israel also sent out an alert asking Jews to pray for the rabbi and his wife.

“One friend of Gavriel Holtzberg reported receiving an e-mail from the Mumbai rabbi at 11:30 p.m. local time,” Chabad.org reported. “The Israeli Consulate was in touch with Holtzberg, but the line was cut in middle of the conversation. No further contact has since been established.”

On Thursday morning, according to the Jerusalem Post, the Chabad rabbi’s toddler son was rushed from the house in the arms of one of the Jewish center’s employees, Sandra Samuel.

“I took the child, I just grabbed the baby and ran out,” said Samuel, 44, who was identified as a cook.

She said that the rabbi, his wife and two other unidentified guests were alive but unconscious, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Jews recall Musharraf ties and wonder what comes next


With control of the world’s only nuclear-armed Muslim state up in the air, many Jewish and Israeli observers are watching the political turmoil in Pakistan with unease.

Pervez Musharraf, who resigned as Pakistan’s president on Monday, might not have been a great friend of the Jewish people, but he was seen as an ally of the West and a relatively moderate leader of a nuclear state with powerful Islamist elements.

He also had some ties to Jewish groups.

In 2005, Musharraf addressed a Jewish gathering in New York, where he said Pakistan would establish ties with Israel after the Palestinians have a state. During that same visit, Musharraf shook hands with then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the U.N. General Assembly. Musharraf also is rumored to have exchanged letters of friendship with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

With Musharraf out, it’s not clear whether or not the open door Jewish organizational leaders have had in Islamabad is in danger of slamming shut.

“It’s a big plus for the Jewish people to have an opening to the world’s only nuclear-armed Muslim country,” David Twersky, senior adviser for international affairs at the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress), said of the relationship between American Jewish groups and Musharraf. “I hope the idea of being open to American Jews doesn’t get thrown out with Musharraf.”

AJCongress chairman Jack Rosen, who has shuttled between New York and Islamabad multiple times to meet with Musharraf on issues of Jewish interest, said he’s confident that the new government in Pakistan won’t sever the country’s dialogue with the Jews.

“I know everybody wants to talk about Musharraf the individual, who was at the center of the stage for the past few years, and everyone wonders what happens next,” said Rosen, who is also chairman of the Council for World Jewry, which is affiliated with the AJCongress. “Our reason for having initiated the contact, and his reason, doesn’t change with the new administration.

“For moderate Muslim leaders around the world, which includes Pakistan, they want to engage America, they want to engage the West, they want to have a dialogue with members of other faiths,” he said. “That doesn’t falter with Musharraf leaving.”

Musharraf’s tenure saw the first high-level diplomatic contacts between Israel and Pakistan. The countries’ foreign ministers met in Istanbul 2005, and after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September of that year, Musharraf said it was time for Pakistan to engage with Israel.

Even as Musharraf’s 2005 speech to a Jewish audience in New York was criticized by Jews for being pro-Palestinian, it was criticized in Pakistan for being too accommodating of Israel.

Musharraf’s resignation this week comes after months of political instability in Pakistan. Last fall, the president moved to suspend the country’s constitution and scuttle planned parliamentary elections. Massive protests prompted Musharraf to back off and eventually resign his position as commander of the armed forces.

The assassination of opposition figure Benazir Bhutto last December further fueled calls for Musharraf to resign as president. Some charged him with being complicit in the Bhutto slaying by not providing her with adequate security.

When he announced his resignation Monday, Musharraf said he was doing so to spare the country his impeachment.

The president of Pakistan’s Senate, Muhammad Mian Soomro, becomes the acting president. According to Pakistani law, the next president must be chosen by the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies within 30 days.

The country’s 4-month-old coalition government is led by Asif Ali Zardari, who heads the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Nawaz Sharif, the chairman of the Pakistan Muslim League and a former prime minister. Sharif’s term was ended in 1999 by Musharraf’s bloodless coup.

Whoever emerges as the next president, analysts say the new leader is unlikely to wield the same broad-ranging powers as Musharraf.

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, expressed fears that Pakistan could choose someone with an Islamist orientation.

“I’m very worried about it,” he said.

Nevertheless, Hoenlein and other Jewish organizational officials interviewed for this story stressed the ongoing contacts Jews have had with Pakistani governments over the years — long before Musharraf — and expressed confidence that they would persist in the future.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations once even hosted a kosher lunch for some Jews at his residence, said Hoenlein, who attended the event.

Even if a pro-Western regime endures in Islamabad, however, it isn’t clear whether the next leader will be able to keep Pakistan’s hard-line Islamists at bay.

Within hours of Musharraf’s resignation on Monday, a suicide bomber in Pakistan’s Northwest province — a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban — killed 23 people in a hospital emergency room, according to reports.

Israel cabinet to vote on Hezbollah swap, Canada downplays reports of Hezbollah sleepers


Cabinet to Vote on Hezbollah Swap

Ehud Olmert will ask his Cabinet on Sunday to approve a prisoner swap with Hezbollah.

Karnit Goldwasser, whose husband, Ehud, and fellow Israeli soldier Eldad Regev were abducted by the Lebanese militia in a July 2006 border raid, said Tuesday following a meeting with the prime minister that a deal for their return was in place.

She said Olmert told her that his Cabinet would vote on the deal at its weekly session Sunday. Goldwasser, who offered no details on the deal, said she hopes it will be approved.

Security sources said Israel would release five jailed Lebanese terrorists and repatriate the bodies of some 10 slain infiltrators in exchange for the soldiers, whose condition is not known.

Israel Names Its First Female U.N. Envoy

A former associate law professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem was named Israel’s first female U.N. ambassador.

Gabriella Shalev will replace Dan Gillerman, who is expected to wrap up his tenure in the coming weeks, Ynet reported.

Shalev, the rector at Ono Academic College, is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on contract law.

The appointment comes after a reported battle between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who favored former New York Consul-General Alon Pinkas.

Canada Downplays Reports of Hezbollah Sleepers

Canadian Jewish officials are downplaying news reports that Hezbollah operatives are training near Toronto and plan to attack.

The American ABC News leaked details last week of an ongoing international intelligence investigation with allegations that up to 20 “sleeper cell” suspects from Hezbollah were activated, including a “weapons expert” spotted at a firing range south of Toronto.

Officials told ABC that suspected Hezbollah operatives have conducted surveillance recently on the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa and on several synagogues in Toronto.

Bernie Farber, the CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said there has been “chatter” since the assassination of a Hezbollah leader in February, but that authorities said there is nothing to lead them to believe the reports are true.

“Our belief is that our federal authorities have things in hand,” Farber told the Toronto Star. “They’ve known about this alleged threat for a while, they’ve investigated it, and they’ve told me categorically that while the chatter is out there, and it has been for a while, there is nothing to lead them to believe that there’s anything imminent or that in fact the chatter is real.”

Farber added, though, that it is always better to be on the safe side, “so we will ensure that our community institutions are alerted.”

Atomic Energy Team Begins Syria Inspections

The United Nations nuclear watchdog began an investigation into an alleged Syrian reactor bombed by Israel.

A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flew out to Damascus on Sunday for 72 hours of talks and inspections.

The experts are to visit al-Kibar, a remote site in northern Syria, which Israeli warplanes destroyed last September and the United States has described as a North Korean-designed reactor.

Syria has denied having a secret nuclear facility but, in a move widely perceived as aimed at covering up evidence, bulldozed over al-Kibar soon after the Israeli attack.

Damascus admitted the IAEA inspectors after months of prevarication. There have been calls abroad for several other suspect sites in Syria to be inspected, but the IAEA is for now only being granted access to al-Kibar.

Second Plot to Kill Ahmadinejad Alleged

A plot to assassinate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad earlier this month in Italy failed, an Iranian daily reported.

An adviser to the Iranian president told the Etemad-e Melli daily newspaper of a plot to assassinate Ahmadinejad during a three-day U.N. food crisis summit in Rome on June 3, according to Reuters.

The report published Tuesday comes just days after Ahmadinejad accused the United States of a plot to kill him during a March visit to Iraq. Iranian state radio said the president changed his schedule at the last minute to foil the plot.

Audit: Israel’s Holocaust Survivors Cheated

Holocaust survivors in Israel have received less than two-thirds of the German reparations allotted to them, an audit found.

A report issued Sunday by a commission of inquiry under retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner found that of the Holocaust reparations paid to Israel under a 1952 deal with Germany, only about 62 percent found their way to survivors living in the Jewish state.

On average, each survivor was underpaid by an aggregate $400,000 to $700,000, the Dorner Commission concluded. It urged the state to make compensation available to entitled recipients who are still alive.

The commission was established following revelations last year that many Holocaust survivors in Israel are destitute because of shortfalls in the welfare payouts they receive from the state.

Bronze Chanukiah Stolen in Rio

A bronze chanukiah sculpture was stolen from a major square in Rio de Janeiro.

The 6 1/2-foot-tall chanukiah, which weighs 440 pounds, adorned the beachfront square, Zozimo Barroso do Amaral, in the Brazilian city’s wealthiest neighborhood of Leblon.

Created by the artist Ruthnac, the Jewish symbol had been donated by the Beit Lubavitch Synagogue and a Jewish-owned construction company in 2002.

Police suspect the theft took place one night last week and are investigating.

Orthodox Imposter Gets Year in Jail

A man who impersonated an ultra-Orthodox Jew for years was given a prison sentence for using a stolen identity.

Ted Riley Floyd caused a stir earlier this year when it was discovered that he had lived as Nathaniel James Levi with his wife and children in the Orthodox enclave of Lakewood, N.J. While in Wichita, Kan., in March 2002, Floyd applied for a passport with the name and Social Security number of Levi, a deceased U.S. Navy veteran.

Floyd, 28, was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in prison followed by three years of probation, the Wichita Eagle reported. Floyd, a former resident of Kansas City, also is barred from using any name but his own or from legally changing his name without permission from his probation officer.

Friends of the family say Floyd’s wife will remain in Lakewood, where she has undergone an Orthodox conversion.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Homegrown terrorist who planned Los Angeles attacks sentenced to 22 years


A member of a four-man homegrown terrorist cell that planned to attack Israeli and Jewish targets three years ago in Los Angeles was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison Monday.

Levar Haney Washington, 30, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to levy war against the United States through terrorism.

The prison-hatched conspiracy targeted the Israeli consulate and some of its officials, the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport and two synagogues in the predominantly Orthodox Pico-Robertson neighborhood.

Also on the target list were U.S. military recruiting stations.

Members of the cell were three American-born converts to Islam – Washington, Gregory Vernon Patterson and Kevin Lamar James – and a Pakistani national, Hamad Riaz Samana.

According to the indictment, James founded the cell while in California state prison and named it Janiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh (JIS), roughly translated as the Assembly of Authentic Islam, an extremist offshoot of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.

The plot was discovered through a lucky break in July 2005, when Torrance police found a mobile phone dropped by Patterson while he and Washington were robbing a gas station to finance their operations.

The find led police to Washington’s apartment, where they found “jihadist” literature, bulletproof vests, and a list that included the “headquarters of Zion” with the address of the Israeli consulate.

Some 200 local and federal agents of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force participated in the subsequent investigation, with officials warning that “the conspirators were on the edge of launching their attack” – apparently on Yom Kippur.

Throughout the 2005 High Holidays, the Jewish community and law enforcement agencies were on high alert, with rabbis and lay leaders trying to strike a balance between maintaining security and avoiding panic.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal center, urged prison officials on Monday “to ensure that terrorist groups are not able to recruit prisoners for their culture of death.”

James and Patterson have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Samana was declared incompetent to stand trial and is confined to a hospital.