Briefs: Muggings mar Shabbat shalom in Pico-Robertson, ‘L.A. Eight’ case dropped

Orthodox Rabbi, 2 Others Mugged

For the first time since a rash of muggings in Pico-Robertson around Shavuot, three Orthodox Jews, including Rabbi Elazar Muskin of Young Israel of Century City, were held up at gunpoint on Oct. 26 as they walked home from Shabbat services.

“It’s a great neighborhood, and I don’t want people to get worked up over this,” said Muskin, who was not hurt and had nothing stolen in the attack. “The police are on top of this, and we are going to try to improve the homeowners association patrol.”

Police have made no arrests and have only general descriptions of the suspects — Hispanic, early 20s. As they have in the past, authorities advise observant Jews to walk in large groups on well-lighted thoroughfares, to stay away from bushes, buildings and alleys and to be aware of their surroundings.

Though they don’t carry money on Shabbat, Orthodox Jews have long been targeted because they often walk alone at night and often wear jewelry. Last May, many of the 30 people robbed during one week were walking to and from shul, sparking community meetings and warnings through e-mails.

The attacks evoked fears of a time in the early 1990s when muggings were frequent, including a violent robbery of Rabbi Jack Simcha Cohen, the then-president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. Many Jews started carrying a gun to services.

“There was a time several years ago when people were afraid to walk outside,” said Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, Orthodox Union West Coast director of community and synagogue services. “But thankfully it hasn’t come to that, and God willing it won’t.”

— Brad Greenberg, Staff Writer

Government Drops ‘L.A. Eight’ Case

The U.S. government dropped deportation proceedings against two people accused of assisting terrorists. They are the last two of eight people, called the “L.A. Eight,” accused in 1987 of abetting Palestinian terrorists.

The Board of Immigration Appeals on Oct. 30 dismissed charges remaining against Khader Hamide and Michel Shehadeh, the last of the “L.A. Eight” jailed in 1987 for supporting the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), primarily through the distribution of the PFLP’s publication, Al Hadaf, which was freely available in public libraries.

Throughout the years, the government used many tactics and laws against the eight –seven Palestinians and a Kenyan married to one of the Palestinians — including their alleged affiliations with communists and terrorists. The case came to a head in January, when a Los Angeles-based immigration judge, Bruce Einhorn, blasted the government’s case as “an embarrassment to the rule of law.” The Department of Homeland Security settled the case after the court vacated findings of prosecutorial misconduct.