Michigan governor to drink Flint water in show of safety over lead crisis


Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, under pressure to resign over the state's poor handling of a lead water crisis in Flint, promised on Monday that he will drink filtered tap water from the city for at least the next 30 days to show that it is safe.

Snyder visited Flint residents on Monday, including one homeowner whose drinking water has tested higher than federal safety standards for the toxic substance and who has expressed concern about drinking even filtered water.

Bernie Sanders wins Michigan in an upset


Bernie Sanders won Michigan’s Democratic primary, an upset that gave new life to his candidacy and edged him closer to being the first Jewish major party nominee.

Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, trailed the Independent senator from Vermont by 2 percentage points in Michigan’s primary on Tuesday, 48 percent to his 50 percent, in a race polls had predicted she would win by double digits.

It was Sanders’ first contest in a large state and his first in the Midwest, an area critical to his ambitions of persuading Americans that he is best positioned to redress income inequality. It sets him up to challenge Clinton in neighboring Ohio on March 15, another major state Clinton was until Tuesday expected to handily win.

“The political revolution that we were talking about is strong in every part of the country and frankly we believe that our strongest areas are yet to happen,” Sanders said at a press conference in Florida, another state running a primary on March 15.

Clinton remains the front-runner, leading Sanders in state delegates by more than 200, and with the vast majority of “superdelegates,” or party officials, pledged to her. She trounced Sanders on Tuesday in Mississippi. She also leads in states won, 12 to Sanders’ nine.

But Sanders defied expectations in Michigan, drawing equal with Clinton among younger blacks, according to CNN. Clinton was believed to have a lock on minorities.

Donald Trump, the real estate billionaire who is the Republican front-runner, picked up two more wins on Tuesday, with 48 percent of the vote in Mississippi and 37 percent in Michigan. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, emerging as Trump’s sturdiest rival, came second in both states, with 25 percent in Michigan and 36 percent in Mississippi. Cruz also won Idaho, with 43 percent of the vote, and Trump came in second, with 28 percent..

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who had hoped for a surge in Michigan ahead of the Ohio vote next week, which he must win to stay in the race, came in third in Michigan, but at 24 percent, just a percentage point behind Cruz’s 25 percent.

Kasich got single digits in Mississippi and Idaho, 9 percent and 7 percent respectively.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is sticking it out at least until next week when his home state, Florida, votes, scored third in Idaho, with 18 percent of the vote, but wallowed in single digits in the other states: 9 percent in Michigan and 5 percent in Mississippi.

Trump has so far won 14 nomination contests, against Cruz’s seven and Rubio’s two. Kasich has not won any yet.

Republicans were also voting in Hawaii on Tuesday.

In Flint crisis, Jews pitching in with corned beef, Dr. Brown’s — and water


At 86, Jeanne Aaronson is blind and lives alone, but she has seen a lot over the years.

She lived in Flint when it was a manufacturing powerhouse, a center of the automotive business and a symbol of American industrial might and ingenuity. She lived through the city’s decline in the 1970s and ’80s as the auto factories closed and the population decamped for better opportunities elsewhere. And more recently, she witnessed the beginning of its revival, with the opening of new businesses and a slew of brewpubs and coffee shops on Saginaw Street.

Now Aaronson is living through yet another difficult period in Flint history, as the city copes with toxic levels of lead in its drinking water that has made Flint a national example of failed governance. Like all the residents here, Aaronson is surviving on bottled water, which she must even feed to her elderly dog.

“Am I ticked? You bet I’m ticked,” Aaronson told JTA. “I’m ticked at the stupidity of our governor for appointing that emergency manager who decided to save a few bucks by poisoning us. Just stupid. I’m ticked at everyone from the very top to the very bottom. Except our new mayor. Mayor Weaver’s doing a good job. But otherwise, I have no faith. None at all.”

Flint has been facing a public health emergency since April 2014, when the city, under the direction of a state-appointed emergency financial manager, began to use the Flint River as its water source. The city used to get its water from Detroit’s water system, which relied on Lake Huron and the Detroit River as water sources. After the switch, the state chose not to use phosphates as an anti-corrosion agent, which caused lead to leach from old pipes into the drinking water.

The crisis was featured prominently in the Democratic presidential debate on Sunday, with both candidates addressing the water situation in the opening minutes. Clinton described meeting mothers terrified for their children. Sanders spoke of his broken heart at hearing of a child now developmentally delayed as a result of lead poisoning.

“Whether this happened because of sins of omission or sins of commission doesn’t matter,” said Steve Low, the director of the Flint Jewish Federation, which has been helping deliver bottled water to local residents. “It doesn’t make the poisoning of Flint’s water supply any less heinous.”

Volunteers offloading water donated by the Flint Jewish community to a local church. (Courtesy of Flint Jewish Federation)Volunteers offloading water donated by the Flint Jewish community to a local church. Photo courtesy of Flint Jewish Federation

Aaronson’s is one of only 66 identified Jewish households left in Flint, a city of 100,000 people 60 miles northwest of Detroit. About 200 more Jewish families live in the Flint area but outside the city limits, where the water hasn’t been affected.

Like Aaronson, many Jews in Flint are elderly, and they’ve been particularly battered by the crisis. For some with arthritic hands, merely opening the bottled water that is now an essential commodity here can be a challenge. Others have had difficulty getting assistance because they don’t have Internet access or are hesitant about opening their door to strangers in a high-crime city.

“For me, this is one giant pain. And yes, I am plenty angry. But I can take care of myself,” said Sue Ellen Hange, 61, a member of Flint’s Temple Beth El who got skin rashes from showering in the contaminated water. “I can’t imagine what it’d be like to be homebound and dealing with this.”

The Flint Jewish community has responded with support both moral and material. To ease the fears of the city’s older Jews, familiar faces from the federation’s senior services division often accompany the water delivery. Two of Flint’s synagogues have held informational meetings and offered special prayers for healing. Synagogue social action committees have also reached out to local residents to remind them they’re not alone.

Support has also come from further afield. The Metro Detroit Federation made a cash contribution of an undisclosed sum to the community. Several Detroit-area congregations joined forces and made the trek 60 miles north with a truck full of water. The Yad Ezra Food Pantry, a group of Detroit-area Chabad houses and the Jewish Federation in Toledo, Ohio, also made water donations.

Steve Low, center, the director of the Flint Jewish Federation, takes a delivery of food from a kosher deli in Indianapolis. (Courtesy of Flint Jewish Federation)Steve Low, center, the director of the Flint Jewish Federation, takes a delivery of food from a kosher deli in Indianapolis. Photo courtesy of Flint Jewish Federation

From Indianapolis, Shapiro’s Deli sent a complete Shabbat meal for 150 in January, including corned beef, pastrami, knishes, chicken soup with matzah balls and even Dr. Brown’s soda. The Jewish relief effort even reached as far as California, where San Francisco chocolatier and Flint native Chuck Siegel sent over an array of sweets and beloved Flint nostalgia foods like Vernors ginger ale and Koegel’s hot dogs. In Los Angeles, Flint native and Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman helped stage the Hollywood Helps Flint fundraiser on Feb. 21, which has so far raised $33,000 for the city.

“We may have left Flint,” Bragman said at the fundraiser, “but Flint never left us.”

The crisis comes at a particularly unfortunate moment for Flint. After decades of mounting poverty and crime, the city had recently begun to rebound. Businesses as varied as a small maker of hip eyeglass frames to corporate giants had set up shop in the city. Renovated dowager buildings downtown are now trendy loft apartments. The Michigan State University Medical School opened a new campus downtown, and Kettering University and the University of Michigan-Flint both dramatically expanded their footprints in the city.

“If it’s possible to see the good in this,” Low said, “it’s that the water crisis threw a big net over the community and has drawn us together. Going back to the 1950s, Flint’s Jews and the African-American community have always worked together. Lately, not so much. But the water has rekindled some of those passions we both share for social justice.”

The crisis has also drawn the Jewish and Hispanic communities together. At a recent meeting at Flint’s Temple Beth El, congregant Melba Lewis pointed out that many local Hispanics are undocumented and are loath to open their doors to uniformed officers to distribute water. The synagogue wound up partnering with a large Hispanic church to distribute a pallet of water to the church for distribution.

But whatever silver linings Flint residents might find in the crisis, their faith in elected officials seems unlikely to be restored anytime soon. Low saw signs of racism in the crisis, likening the decisions that created the crisis in this majority-African American city to other government moves — like the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling invalidating a key provision of the Voting Rights Act and the nationwide trend to implement voter identification laws — that have disproportionately impact on minorities. Aaronson simply feels abandoned.

“I was listening to the Republican debate last night, 70 miles from here in Detroit, and there’s one question about the water,” she said last week. “One question! That’s so wrong. It should have been on the top of the list.”

David Stanley is a writer based in Flint, Mich. He served as a member of the Flint Jewish Federation board of trustees from 1990 to 1992.

Former Marine held in Iran arrives home after swap


Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, released by Iran in a prisoner swap last weekend, arrived home on Thursday after more than four years in jail in the Islamic Republic where he faced the death sentence at one point. 

Hekmati 32, touched down in a private jet at the airport in his hometown of Flint, Michigan and stepped on to a small red carpet on the tarmac.

“I am happy to finally be home. It’s been a very long road, a very long journey. Unfortunately, many people have traveled this road with me,” he told reporters.

Hekmati was arrested while visiting family in Iran in 2011 and accused of being a U.S. spy, a charge his relatives and the United States deny. He was sentenced to death the following year 

but that was commuted to a 10-year prison term.

He was one of five Americans released to coincide with the lifting last weekend of economic sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on Tehran's atomic program. The White House offered clemency to seven Iranians who were convicted or facing trial in the United States. 

Hekmati said on Thursday he was “healthy, tall and with my head held high.” The son ofIranian immigrants, Hekmati went to high school in Flint, a rust belt town now struggling with a water contamination crisis.

“It’s great to be back in Flint, my hometown. I love this city. I love its people. They have been so good to me and my family and we are very grateful,” Hekmati said.

Another former prisoner in Iran, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, 35, was set to arrive in Atlanta and then fly to Asheville, North Carolina on Thursday to be reunited with members of his family over the next several days, his wife told Reuters.

Abedini, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Iranian origin, 

will now spend time at a religious retreat in North Carolina 

associated with evangelist Billy Graham.

Abedini was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2013 after being accused of harmingIran's national security by setting up home-based churches in Iran.

Democratic Senator Stabenow backs Iran nuclear deal


President Barack Obama on Monday picked up the support of another Democratic senator for the Iran nuclear deal as Debbie Stabenow of Michigan announced that she will vote to allow the pact to go ahead.

“I have determined that the imminent threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon outweighs any flaws I see in the international agreement. For this reason, I must support the agreement,” Stabenow said in a statement.

Arab-Israeli killer in Michigan prison seeking deportation to Israel


An Arab-Israeli immigrant to the United States who is serving a life sentence for murder has sued the U.S. government in a bid to be deported to Israel.

Elias Abuelazam, 37, a Christian Arab from Ramla, filed a lawsuit earlier this month in a Michigan federal court saying he committed a murder in Israel in 2009, months before he came to Flint, Mich., and stabbed a man to death.

“I have written letters to the Israeli authorities asking them to prepare the necessary warrants and extradition documents to bring me back to Israel where I will stand trial and be sent to prison,” Abuelazam said in the lawsuit, The Associated Press reported.

Abuelazam, who lived in the United States for several years as a child, reportedly was living legally in the United States on a green card obtained when he married a U.S. citizen. He was accused of killing three people in three U.S. states during the summer of 2010, and was arrested on Aug. 1 of that year in Atlanta after boarding a flight to Israel. He claimed that demons told him to commit the attacks, but a jury rejected the insanity plea.

Abuelazam was not tried for the other two murders because he was given a life sentence without parole in the Michigan case.

Ed Zeineh, Abuelazam’s attorney, said his client could serve his sentence in Israel if Israel would take him.

“I don’t believe this is a mechanism to get out from a life sentence,” Zeineh told AP. “Abuelazam was and is mentally ill, and I believe the structure of the correctional system in Israel is able to better treat mental illness.”

 

Should Jews pack their bags for Detroit?


Sure, the news from the city of Detroit seems endlessly grim: bankruptcy, crime and so forth.

But the metro area, whose northwest suburbs host a panoply of Jewish amenities, is the most affordable place in the United States to raise a “committed Jewish family,” at least according to one graduate student’s admittedly “back-of-the-napkin” calculations.

In a widely shared April 28 post on his blog, Matthew Williams ranked the 10 most and least affordable places that meet the following minimum criteria: a mikvah, an eruv, at least one synagogue for each major denomination, K-12 Jewish day school options and at least one kosher restaurant or kosher-friendly supermarket.

Williams, a Jim Joseph fellow pursuing a joint doctorate in history and education in connection with Stanford’s Education and Jewish Studies program, came up with a list of 50 cities and towns that met the minimum criteria, then ranked them in order of affordability as measured by average real estate prices and average day school tuition.

Just behind Detroit are Cleveland, Buffalo and Milwaukee. At the other end, the least affordable, according to the ranking, are Palo Alto, Calif. (where Williams lives); Manhattan and San Francisco.

The post has garnered more than 57,000 visits, according to Williams.

Not surprisingly, the post generated comments galore, most of them of the “Why didn’t you include my community?” and “Every Jew should move to Israel” varieties, along with a few disses of the communities that the list did include. Others questioned Williams’ methodology, which he is the first to concede is imprecise — more rough draft than final product.

“There’s never going to be a definitive list of what’s the most affordable,” Williams said in a phone interview with JTA. “If anything, I just wanted to provoke the conversation.”

A former day school teacher at Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Md. — a Washington suburb that didn’t make the list (D.C. ranked 10th least affordable, while nearby Silver Spring, Md. was 24th most affordable) — Williams said he was pleasantly surprised by the interest his list has generated.

“People seem to really care about this issue,” he said. “It strikes a chord.”

Jews searching for affordable places to live are being sought after by Jewish communities looking to bolster their numbers.

The Orthodox Union organizes an annual Jewish Community Fair, a gathering highlighting affordable, Orthodox-friendly communities around North America. The O.U.’s last fair attracted 1,500 visitors, said Rabbi Judah Isaacs, the Orthodox Union’s director of community engagement.

“There are definitely people looking for affordable options,” he said.

Isaacs said that as a result of the O.U.’s fairs, he gets calls from communities eager to tout their affordability and other virtues.

A number of smaller Jewish communities have, in recent years, not just promoted themselves at fairs and online but offered financial incentives — such as mortgage help and day school discounts — to attract young families.

Isaacs, a former professional at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, expressed skepticism that Detroit is the most affordable Jewish community in the country.

Williams says he plans to redo his ranking to include additional factors, such as crime rates, percentage of day school students receiving financial aid, income data and cost-of-living indices. He’s also adding more communities to the list, incorporating some of the commenter suggestions, and is limiting the real estate price data to neighborhoods within easy commuting distance of Jewish institutions, rather than the entire metro areas — something he did inconsistently in the current ranking.

The redo may well topple Detroit from its No. 1 perch, since Williams used data for the entire metro area, rather than for far posher Oakland County, where the overwhelming majority of area Jews live. The rock-bottom housing prices south of Eight Mile Road, the border between city and suburb, no doubt skewed the averages dramatically downward.

Scott Kaufman, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, told JTA that “the cost of Jewish life — housing and day school tuition — is very reasonable here.”

Moreover, he said, the community of approximately 67,000 Jews is on the upswing.

“We experienced population shrinkage for decades, but in the last few years, we have seen an uptick for the first time in recent memory of both young adults and young families,” Kaufman said.

And the growth is not just in the suburbs, he said, with 20- and 30-somethings increasingly moving to the city.

“Now is a great time to take advantage of the value proposition,” Kaufman said. “We’re starting to see real estate prices go up, but compared to the East and West coasts, you get a lot more bang for the buck.”

Carl Levin won’t run again


Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a veteran Jewish lawmaker who for years was a major influence in defense policy, will not seek reelection.

Levin, 78, was quoted Thursday by The Associated Press as saying that his decision was “extremely difficult” but that he wanted to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in 2014, without “distraction.”

Levin heads the Senate's Armed Services Committee, and in that capacity has been influential in defense policy, helping to maintain record levels of defense assistance for Israel.

More recently, he led the pushback against claims that President Obama's nominee for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, was not sufficiently pro-Israel or supportive of tough anti-Iran measures for the job.

Levin's public dressing-down of Hagel's sharpest critic on the committee, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for suggesting without evidence that Hagel had received favors from rogue states, helped turn the tide for the nomination, which ultimately was approved.

First elected in 1978, Levin is Michigan's longest-serving senator.

Levin's brother, Sander, is the top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Hunting for the perfect (JNF) Christmas tree—in Israel


Winding up and down the rows of Arizona brush trees, Jason Heeney sees slim pickings for Christmas.

“This tree would be hard to put the star on,” Heeney says. “It’s totally flat, like a smushed nose.”

The Michigan native and his friend, native Parisian Emie Genty, have driven an hour from their homes in Tel Aviv for what has become an annual tradition: the Christmas tree hunt at a Jewish National Fund forest. For about $20 apiece, they and anyone else can buy a subsidized tree this week, courtesy of JNF. The buyers include Christian Arabs, Russians, tourists and curious Israeli Jews.

The trees resemble the conifers traditionally used as Christmas trees in America, though they are a bit sparser, paler and shorter at an average of 6 feet high.

JNF’s director of VIP ceremonies and protocol, Andy Michelson, estimates that individuals, embassies and Israeli churches will buy nearly 1,000 trees this year — a 20 percent increase over last year because of a new Internet advertising campaign. The program has existed for almost 20 years, and the forest here has about 3,000 trees. JNF maintains a similar forest in northern Israel.

Approximately 150,000 Christians – four-fifths of them Arabs – live in Israel.

Though the tree distribution program costs thousands of dollars, Michelson said American Jewish supporters of JNF should not be upset that their money is going for something that benefits Christians in Israel.

“Our projects are for all people living in Israel, so when we build a park, we build it for everyone, regardless of whether they’re Jewish, Christian or Muslim,” he said, adding that many of JNF’s donors are non-Jews from Europe.

“They see Israel doing this, and it creates a good feeling and peace between people,” said Maor Malka, a JNF tour guide and firefighter who has staffed the distribution for two years. “We also increase awareness of JNF.”

JNF is best known for planting trees, not chopping them down. Michelson said the four-inch stumps left from the Christmas trees regenerate quickly, in as little as two years.

That was disappointing for Heeney, who was looking for a bigger tree — maybe eight feet high. Examining tree after tree — “No, no, no, no, no” — he lamented that “the branches are really flimsy, not like a Christmas tree” in the United States. It’s harder to hang decorations on these, he says.

Heeney, who is married to a native Israeli, grew up on a farm and as a child his family would visit the nearby forest and chop down a tree as Dec. 25 approached. Since moving to Tel Aviv 2 1/2 years ago, he has maintained American Christmas traditions. He hosts a family dinner with his in-laws on Christmas Eve and a party for friends the next day with gifts and carols.

“It’s strange celebrating Christmas in Israel,” he says. “In the U.S. it’s a national cultural event. There’s a change in the way people interact with each other, the generosity of spirit, plus the lights. It’s pretty. I miss the snow.”

Not all of the customers in Givat Yeshayahu — in central Israel, just south of Jerusalem’s suburbs — had Christmas on their minds. Miriam, originally from Moscow, was helping a friend buy a tree for New Year’s, a Russian tradition. She had bought plastic trees in years past, but found the JNF offer on the Internet this year.

“It’s not connected to religion; we like to decorate the tree,” she said. “We don’t do it on a holiday and we don’t sing Merry Christmas.”

Miriam found a tree she liked, as did Heeney and Genty, who squeezed three of them into their sedan following a 45-minute search. But not all the customers were happy with the selection. One man walked back to his car after looking for only a few minutes.

“I have something like this in my yard,” he said.

Israeli Arab sentenced to life in prison for Michigan murder


An Arab-Israeli immigrant to the United States was sentenced to life in prison for the stabbing death of a Michigan man, part of a series of killings and attacks.

Elias Abuelazam, 33, a Christian Arab from Ramla, was sentenced Monday for the stabbing death of Arnold Minor, 49. Abuelazam was accused of killing three people during a series of killings and attacks in three U.S. states during the summer of 2010.

In addition to the three murder charges, Abuelazam also is facing six assault with intent to murder charges in the Flint area, as well as attempted murder charges in Toledo, Ohio. He is a suspect as well in several attacks in Leesburg, Va.

His attorney mounted a not guilty by reason of insanity case. People convicted of first-degree murder in Michigan cannot receive parole.

Abuelazam, who lived in the United States for several years as a child and reportedly was living legally in the United States on a green card obtained when he married a U.S. citizen, was arrested Aug. 1, 2010 in Atlanta after boarding a flight to Israel.

Nearly all of the attacks involved dark-skinned victims, either black or Latin American.

Israeli Arab guilty of murder in Michigan


An Arab-Israeli immigrant to the United States was found guilty of murder in Michigan.

Elias Abuelazam, 33, a Christian Arab from Ramla, was found guilty Tuesday in the stabbing death of Arnold Minor, 49. He was accused of killing three people during a series of killings and attacks in three U.S. states during the summer of 2010.

In addition to the three murder charges, Abuelazam also is facing six assault with intent to murder charges in the Flint area, as well as attempted murder charges in Toledo, Ohio. He is a suspect as well in several attacks in Leesburg, Va.

His attorney mounted a not guilty by reason of insanity case.

Abuelazam, who lived in the United States for several years as a child and reportedly was living legally in the United States on a green card obtained when he married a U.S. citizen, was arrested Aug. 1, 2010 in Atlanta after boarding a flight to Israel.

Nearly all of the attacks involved dark-skinned victims, either black or Latin American.

Romney wins in Michigan, Arizona


Mitt Romney won Republican primary contests in Arizona and Michigan, maintaining his front-runner status.

In Michigan, the state his father governed and where he was raised, Romney beat back a challenge Tuesday by Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, 41 percent to 38 percent, with nearly all of the vote counted.

But Santorum’s strong challenge forecasts a long and difficult fight for Romney to win the nomination for president. The former Massachusetts governor had to outspend Santorum in a state that just weeks ago he had been expected to win handily.

Romney won handily in Arizona, defeating Santorum by 47 percent to 27 percent.

Michigan, with its battered automaker-based economy and its status as a large Midwestern hub, was considered a critical test.

The candidates now will focus on Super Tuesday, when 10 states vote on March 6.

Santorum has surged to become the likeliest conservative contender to beat Romney by playing up his blue-collar roots and emphasizing social conservatism on issues such as birth control, abortion and gay rights.

Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House of representatives speaker, scored 6.5 percent in Michigan and 16 percent in Arizona, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) scored 12 percent in Michigan and 8 percent in Arizona.

Ex-Mich. Rep. gets year for role in terrorism funding


A former Michigan congressman was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison on for assisting a charity accused of funding Hamas and other terrorist groups.

Mark Siljander, 59,  of Great Falls, Va., was sentenced Wednesday to charges of obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. He had pleaded guilty to the charges in July 2010.

An Islamic American Relief Agency fund-raiser from Chicago allegedly hired Siljander to lobby for the removal of the agency from a U.S. Senate list of charities suspected of having terrorist ties, The Wall Street Journal reported. Siljander did not disclose this information and lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation during its probe.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Islamic American Relief Agency collected funds in boxes marked “Allah” and “Israel,” showing that the money was going toward attacks in Israel, and collected money in at least one Western European country that went straight to Hamas. The charity also has been connected to the Al-Aksa Foundation

Siljander, a Republican, served in Congress from 1981 to 1987. He had faced up to 15 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

Abdel Azim El-Siddig, the fund-raiser from Chicago, who pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, got two years probation, according to a report by Main Justice, a news website tracking the federal justice system. Mubarak Hamed, a Sudanese American who had been the charity’s director, got four years and ten months.

Receiving six months probation each were Ali Mohamed Bagegni, a Libyan American and IARA board member, and Ahmad Mustafa, an Iraqi citizen and IARA fundraiser. Both men were credited with assisting the prosecution.

Arab Israeli bound over on murder charges in Michigan


An Arab-Israeli suspect in a series of killings and attacks in three U.S. states has been bound over for three murder trials in Michigan.

A Michigan judge on Tuesday ordered Elias Abuelazam, 33, a Christian Arab from Ramla, to be tried in a Flint courtroom for a third murder.

In addition to the three murder charges, Abuelazam also is facing six assault with intent to murder charges in the Flint area, as well as attempted murder charges in Toledo, Ohio. He is a suspect as well in several attacks in Leesburg, Va.

Abuelazam, who lived in the United States for several years as a child and reportedly was living legally in the United States on a green card obtained when he married a U.S. citizen, was arrested Aug. 1 in Atlanta after boarding a flight to Israel.

Nearly all of the attacks, which include at least a dozen non-fatal stabbings and five deaths, involved dark-skinned victims, either black or Latin American.

Defense lawyers reportedly are considering an insanity defense.