Shorts: U.S.

Rubashkin lawyers make case for bail

In court documents filed Dec. 5, lawyers asked a judge to reconsider his decision to deny bail to Sholom Rubashkin, the former supervisor of the Agriprocessors meatpacking facility in Postville, Iowa. They made a substantial argument over the fact that the original detention order deeming Rubashkin a flight risk cited Israel’s Law of Return, which grants automatic citizenship to every Jew.

Some Jews saw the ruling as setting a dangerous precedent that could be used to deny bail to Jewish defendants solely on the basis of their religion.

The attorneys also proposed three measures to ensure that Rubashkin will not flee: 24-hour security to monitor Rubashkin; executing a waiver of extradition, making it easier to return Rubashkin to the United States if he were to flee the country; and posting any additional security demanded by the court.

Rubashkin was arrested in late October on charges related to the hiring of illegal workers at the plant. While free on bond, he was arrested a second time and charged with bank fraud. — jta

Obama sends letter to Chabad director

President-elect Barack Obama sent condolences to the Chabad-Lubavitch community on the slayings of its emissaries in Mumbai.

Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg “were taken from us by terrorists with no regard for human life, and we must remain steadfast in support of efforts to bring the perpetrators of these acts to justice,” Obama wrote in a letter sent to Chabad of Illinois director Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz in advance of a Chicago event that was held Dec. 10 in memory of the Mumbai victims.

The Holtzbergs were among six Jewish victims killed Nov. 26 in the Chabad house during a spate of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. — jta

Bush extends Jerusalem waiver

President Bush extended his waiver of a law mandating the move of the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The Dec. 4 order cites the “national security interests of the United States” in waiving the Jerusalem Embassy Act for six months.

Bush and President Bill Clinton have waived the act routinely since its passage in 1995, citing the dangers that Muslim outrage over such an act would pose to U.S. interests in the Middle East. — jta

Jimmy Carter writes again on Holy Land

Former President Jimmy Carter has written a new book on the Middle East with a title he hopes will not be as controversial as the last one, which was called, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

Carter, 84, said last week that “We Can Bring Peace to the Holy Land” will be published in January. He offered no further details on the new text, to be published by Simon & Schuster.

Jewish groups and some fellow Democrats strongly objected to his book, published two years ago, because it compared Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories with former racial oppression in South Africa. — ap

Facebook deletes anti-Semitic slurs

Facebook has removed anti-Semitic slurs from its Web site after Vic Alhadeff, the CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies in Australia, lodged a complaint.

Students from some of Sydney’s elite private schools had posted the messages, which included “support Holocaust denial” and a link to an anti-Israel Web site. Other comments such as “Jew rats” and “[expletive] Mercedes Jews” were removed from the social network. — jta

Conference calls for Pollard pardon

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the foreign policy umbrella body for U.S. Jewish groups, has asked President Bush to pardon Jonathan Pollard.

“It’s time that he be released,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, the umbrella group’s executive vice chairman. “He has expressed remorse.”

Pollard is a former U.S. Navy analyst who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. The U.S. intelligence community opposes his pardon; however, presidents on the brink of leaving office often feel freer to take up controversial pardons. — jta

Former RJC head tapped for U.N. post

President Bush has nominated Cheryl Halpern, a former chairwoman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, to be an alternate United Nations representative.

Alternate representatives present U.S. views in a number of smaller forums, including at committee meetings and at ancillary U.N. bodies.

Halpern, who formerly chaired the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, would serve in the position through September, when the U.N. General Assembly’s 63rd session ends. — jta

L.A. businessmen fund Jewish cricket team from India

Los Angeles businessmen Beny Alagem, Larry Green and Martin Moskowitz have put up $125,000 to enable a 21-member Jewish cricket team from India to participate in next year’s Maccabiah Games.

“This is our answer to the murderous rampage against Indian and Israeli citizens,” said Steve Soboroff, the founder of the Committee of 18 to support and publicize the 18th Games in Israel. The games begin next July and for the first time will be on Jewish Life Television (JLTV), which is available on many U.S. cable and satellite systems. — jta