Shorts: U.S.

Anti-Jewish bias in Agriprocessors case?

Attorneys for a former vice president at Agriprocessors asked a federal judge this week to dismiss the case or move the trial out of Iowa, claiming anti-Jewish bias in the grand jury.

Sholom Rubashkin faces 97 charges, including immigration-related counts and bank fraud. Rubashkin, three other defendants and the company were indicted months after 389 people were arrested in an immigration raid at the kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa.

Rubashkin is accused of helping illegal immigrants get fake documents so they could work at the plant.

His attorney, Guy Cook, and Agriprocessors attorney Jim Clarity asked a U.S. District Court judge to dismiss the charges against Rubashkin and the company because they claim the grand jury developed prejudices based on Jewish stereotypes. A trial consultant testified that grand jury members made references to whether Jewish people charged interest on loans to other Jews and the practice of some Jews of growing long beards and wearing hats. — ap

U.S. pledging $900 million for Gaza

The Obama administration has pledged to provide $900 million in aid for rebuilding Gaza.

Administration officials said Feb. 23 that the aid would not be given to Hamas, which controls Gaza, but would go through nongovernmental organizations, the New York Times reported. Congress would have to approve the aid package.

The pledge will be formally announced next week when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to a Gaza donors conference in Egypt. It will include new aid as well as money already earmarked for the Palestinian Authority. — jta

College denies Israel divestments

Attorney Alan Dershowitz and the Anti-Defamation League issued separate statements praising Hampshire College in Massachusetts for stating emphatically that it is not divesting from Israel.

On Feb. 7, Hampshire said it was divesting from a market index fund featuring several companies that do business in Israel. Afterward, Students for Justice in Palestine issued a statement saying the move was to protest Israel’s dealings with the Palestinians, and that the move made Hampshire the first American university to adopt a divestment policy relating to Israeli policy.

After Dershowitz called for divestment from the college, school president Ralph Hexter issued a letter reiterating that while Students for Justice in Palestine indeed had called for divestment from five companies on the index that do business with Israel, Hampshire made the move because an outside screen found that nearly 200 companies held by the fund did not meet the school’s investment standards, which had nothing to do with Israel. — jta

Black September terrorist released from Colorado prison

washington  |  A terrorist who plotted a series of bomb attacks during a New York visit by Golda Meir in 1973 will be deported.

Khalid al-Jawary, 63, has been released from the Supermax prison in Colorado, the Associated Press reported Feb. 19, and is slated for deportation, although U.S. authorities would not say where.

Al-Jawary, a member of Black September, was behind the planting of two powerful bombs along Fifth Avenue and a third at John F. Kennedy Airport during the visit of Meir, then Israel’s prime minister.

The airport bomb failed to detonate and police defused the two Fifth Avenue bombs.

Al Jawary wasn’t captured until 1991, when he was arrested in Rome on his way to attend the funeral in Tunis of a terrorist boss. He was sentenced in 1993 to 30 years and is being released now with time off for good behavior.

In an investigative series, AP has uncovered evidence linking al-Jawary to a letter bombing campaign and the 1974 bombing of a TWA flight that killed 88 people.

The retired FBI agents who investigated the 1973 bombing attempts have said that releasing him is a mistake. — jta

Dennis Ross named to Iran policy role

Dennis Ross, a top Middle East negotiator for presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, has joined the Obama administration in a coordinating role on policy regarding Iran and its neighbors. Ross is now special adviser to the secretary of state for the Gulf and Southwest Asia.

“This is a region in which America is fighting two wars and facing [many] challenges,”  said a statement from Robert Wood, the spokesman for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The reference to “two wars” suggested that Ross will focus on Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan — but not necessarily on Israel-area crises. — jta