Australian Jews call for probe of countrys LaRouche groups

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SYDNEY — Australia's Jewish community this week called on the government to explore the local arm of jailed American extremist Lyndon LaRouche's cult after national TV broadcast evidence of the group's anti-Jewish activities.

The Monday broadcast included testimonies by former LaRouchites who said the group, known here as the Citizens' Electoral Councils, was engaged in a "war" against Australian Jews.

LaRouche, who has served five years in prison for mail fraud and tax evasion, champions an ideology that combines anti-Semitism and bizarre conspiracy theories, such as a claim that former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger worked for the Soviet KGB and that Britain's Queen Elizabeth heads a drug-pushing ring.

In recent months LaRouche activists have been spotted outside supermarkets and other public places in the United States calling for an end to all U.S. aid to Israel.

On Monday's television program, the ex-Australian LaRouchites said local tactics included secretly tape-recording meetings and private telephone calls; plant-ing inaccurate information concerning Jewish business and community leaders with lawmakers, whose comments in Parliament are protected from defamation law; and inflaming other minority groups' hostility toward Jews.

Key targets were brothers Isi Leibler, chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress, and Mark Leibler, federal president of the United Israel Appeal and past president of the Zionist Federation of Australia.

In February, two Labor Party parliamentarians said the LaRouche group was involved in an "unprecedented criminal conspiracy" against prominent Jewish families, including the Leiblers.

Colin Rubenstein, editorial chairman of Australia/Israel Publications, which has spearheaded research into Australia-based LaRouchite activities, said the group's "efforts to defraud and destroy Australian families, and spy on prominent members of the community solely because they are Jewish, demands an immediate federal inquiry."

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry also asked the government to investigate "the activities of the Lyndon LaRouche political cult in Australia."

Last March the LaRouche group agreed to settle a defamation lawsuit against it by a prominent Australian Jew in Melbourne, Michael Danby, then editor of the Australia/Israel Review.