World report

SYDNEY — Two Australian politicians, claiming they were duped, have apologized to Jewish groups here after signing petitions connected to U.S. extremist Lyndon LaRouche.

Peter Webb, a member of the legislative assembly of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, said he signed a petition circulated by the Citizens' Electoral Councils because he supports "economic reform."

The petition was subsequently published in that group's magazine in support of the economic theories of LaRouche.

These petitions were not overtly anti-Semitic. But LaRouche, who has served a prison term 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.

A member of Australia's Parliament, Bob Katter, also signed the petition, later claiming that he had thought it was "a harmless little motherhood statement."

Webb's explanation that he was duped came after Australian Cabinet member Morris Iemma gave a speech condemning Australians who had been harassing Aborigines while wearing Ku Klux Klan regalia.

Clinton's Shoah visit marred by protesters

TORONTO (JTA) — He came to raise funds for a local memorial wall to the Holocaust, but former President Clinton ended up running afoul of some 200 protesters incensed by his failure to prevent ethnic cleansing in Rwanda in 1994.

Gerald Caplan, who participated in an international panel that investigated the Rwandan genocide, wrote a blistering op-ed in Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper several days before Clinton participated in Monday's event sponsored by the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem. The commentary accused Canadian Jewish groups of not doing enough to stop the massacres in Rwanda.

"'Never again,' it seems, applies only to the Jewish genocide," Caplan wrote. "Rwandans apparently don't count."

While most of the international community failed to take action in Rwanda, the protestors blamed Clinton for failing to prevent the genocide in Rwanda. Hutu militias in Rwanda killed at least 500,000 Tutsis and moderate members of their own tribe in 1994.

The protestors also said it was inappropriate for the Jewish group to host Clinton.

The executive director of the Yad Vashem Society reacted with some sympathy for the protesters, but did not apologize for the event.

"We feel that what happened in Rwanda was very tragic," Marilyn Somers said.

"We understand" the protesters' "feelings, and we are very upset that we've upset another community."