August 31, 2000
Hate Crimes on the Rise
Committee reports that higher numbers may point to heightened awareness and better reporting.A surge in attacks against Jewish targets and gay men paced a general increase in hate crimes reported last year in Los Angeles County.
As compared to 1998, anti-Jewish incidents rose 37 percent, from 86 in 1998 to 118 in 1999, and anti-gay attacks 22 percent, from 173 to 211, the county Human Relations Commission reported Aug. 23.However, authorities cautioned that much of the increase could be attributed to greater alertness by law enforcement agencies in reporting such crimes and a greater willingness by victims to come forward.In particular, the shooting rampage at the North Valley Jewish Community Center last August, which left five wounded, led to an "unprecedented awareness" of hate crimes, said Robin Toma, the commission's acting executive director.
Overall, 859 crimes were classified as motivated by hatred of the victim's race, religion or sexual orientation. The figure represented a rise of 11.7 percent over the 769 hate crimes committed in 1998 but are well below the county's peak year of 1996, when 995 hate crimes were reported.
Although attacks on Jewish institutions and gay men showed the highest percentage increase, the largest number of hate crimes were committed against African Americans.
The most common hate crime involved a white man victimizing a Black, followed by a Latino man targeting Blacks, and a Latino man against gay men.
The vast majority of crimes against Jewish targets were nonviolent, while more than half the attacks against gays and lesbians involved violence.
Overall, the findings for Los Angeles County closely matched those of the for the state of California, which reported in July a 12 percent jump in hate crimes in 1999, compared to the previous year.
Both government studies tend to validate a study by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which reported in April a 20 percent statewide rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes for the corresponding years.
The Los Angeles and California figures deviate sharply from statistics for the entire United States, which show a 25 percent drop in anti-Semitic crimes over the past five years, said ADL regional director David Lehrer. - Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
3 Israelis Killed on West Bank
Three Israeli soldiers were killed and another wounded in a fire fight with Hamas militants north of the West Bank town of Nablus on Sunday.
Israeli chief of staff Shaul Mofaz said the soldiers may have been killed by "friendly fire" during a "serious operational mishap."
The troops were on a mission to capture Mahmoud Abu Nahoud, an alleged Hamas terrorist who officials say was responsible for suicide bombings in Jerusalem three years ago.
Abu Nahoud was lightly hurt in the clash and turned himself in to Palestinian police.
Polish Catholics Ask Forgiveness
Poland's Catholic leaders asked forgiveness for its toleration of anti-Semitism in a letter read during Sunday Masses.
"We ask forgiveness for those among us who show disdain for people of other denominations or tolerate anti-Semitism," the letter said.
"Anti-Semitism, just like anti-Christianism, is a sin."
Bush: I'll preserve 'special' ties
George W. Bush promised members of a Jewish organization a continued "special relationship" between the United States and Israel.
But the U.S. Republican presidential candidate told B'nai B'rith International's convention via satellite Monday that America should not pressure the Jewish state or interfere with Israel's democratic process.Bush also sounded familiar themes for Jewish groups, including support for the peace process, tolerance of all faiths and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, B'nai B'rith International's sitting president, Richard Heideman, was re-elected Monday by a vote of 236-111 at the convention, which was held in Washington.
It was the first time in the organization's history that an incumbent president faced a serious challenger, a fact many insiders attribute to grass-roots dissatisfaction with the budget cuts and restructuring by the Washington office.
Lawyer seeks to bankrupt racists
A lawsuit against the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist group that says Jews are the offspring of Satan, went to trial Monday.
Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who is representing a mother and son who were attacked by the group, says he tries to bankrupt hate groups through litigation.
Rabbis join peace summit
The chief rabbis of Israel, Great Britain and Russia joined religious leaders from around the world in an international summit aimed at building world peace.
The Dalai Lama is being excluded from the conference sponsored by the United Nations because of China's objections that he is a political leader who is seeking Tibetan independence.
Iran leader meets Jews
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami met with dozens of leaders and members of Iran's Jewish community in a move described in Iran as an effort to soothe communal anxiety in the wake of the July 1 conviction of 10 Jews accused of spying.
U.S. Jewish observers, however, view Khatami's actions Aug. 24 as a public relations maneuver in the run-up to his September visit to the United Nations.
A ruling on the appeal of the Jews' case is expected Sept. 5, a day before the kickoff of the U.N. summit that Khatami is slated to attend.
Charity may have links to Hamas
The United States suspects a Muslim charity is providing support to families of suicide bombers and others with links to Hamas, The New York Times reported.
The Holy Land Foundation should be removed from the roster of charities and relief groups supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department says.
All briefs from Jewish Telegraphic Agency