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World Briefs

January 22, 2004 | 7:00 pm

Israeli Accused of Shipping Weapon Detonators

An Israeli citizen has been accused of illegally shipping detonators for nuclear weapons from the United States to Pakistan, via his company in South Africa.

Asher Karni, 50, described in numerous character references as a pillar of the Cape Town Jewish community and "a very religious and honest man," is being held in federal prison in Denver, Colo. on a criminal complaint by the Office of Export Enforcement, U.S. Department of Commerce.

A court hearing is to be held on Tuesday, Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C., to determine whether Karni will be released on bail.

The New York Times reported Saturday that American law enforcement officials are trying to determine whether the Pakistani government was involved in the case.

"We know the devices went to Pakistan," said one official, who requested anonymity. "What we're still investigating is where exactly they ended up and who was behind it."

A Pakistani diplomat in Washington told The Times that his country would cooperate in the investigation and that it had no knowledge of the alleged plot.

Karni was arrested on New Year's Day upon arriving at Denver International Airport with his wife, Shuli, and their daughter. They were planning a three-week stay, most of it at a nearby ski resort. According to court papers, Karni, through a New Jersey broker, had ordered 200 high-speed electrical switches, known as triggered spark gaps, from their Massachusetts manufacturer last summer, at a cost of $89,400. The devices have both medical and military applications.

Attorney Harvey Steinberg of Denver, representing Karni, declined any comment on the case. However, during an initial Jan. 12 bail hearing in Denver, Steinberg told a U.S. magistrate that "this complaint is, at most, a licensing violation. It is not illegal to possess these things."

The Israel consulate general in Los Angeles, whose jurisdiction includes the state of Colorado, has been in contact with Karni's wife and federal authorities.

"We have received no complaints from Mr. Karni and he is receiving the kosher food he requested," said Yariv Ovadia, consul for communications and public affairs. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Outpost Targeted

Israeli police clashed with settlers while dismantling an illegal West Bank outpost. The move on Tapuach West, which has a synagogue in memory of slain extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, was ordered Tuesday after Israel's High Court of Justice rejected a petition against the eviction order. The move was in keeping with the U.S.-led "road map" peace plan. Scores of settler youth tried to block access to the outpost, prompting scuffles with police. There were at least 20 arrests, but no immediate reports of casualties.

So Long, Lord Black?

The owner of the Jerusalem Post, accused of taking money illegally from his company, is selling his press interests. On Sunday, Lord Conrad Black made a deal to sell his controlling interest in Hollinger International, which owns the Post, as well as the Daily Telegraph of London and the Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Times reported. The sale to David and Frederick Barclay is worth an estimated $178 million. Black is under pressure from his board for allegedly misdirecting payments totaling more than $224 million from his company to himself and others.

Powell Blames Hezbollah for Clash

Colin Powell said Hezbollah was responsible for new clashes along the Israel-Lebanon border.

"It's unfortunate that Hezbollah once again has caused this need for a response," the U.S. secretary of state said in a news conference Tuesday. He spoke after Israeli jets bombed Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon in response to the unprovoked killing of an Israeli soldier along the Israel-Lebanon border.

"The deliberate action they took, which resulted in the loss of life, once again demonstrates the nature of that organization." Powell also warned Syria against providing any support for Hezbollah, either vocally or by allowing leaders of the terrorist group to work out of Damascus. Powell also said both sides need to monitor their actions carefully and adhere to the established line between Israel and Lebanon.

Jewish Women Appalled by Judge

The National Council of Jewish Women is "appalled" by President Bush's appointment of Judge Charles Pickering. Pickering, who Bush appointed to a federal appeals court last Friday, is an "opponent of fundamental civil rights, including the right to privacy and reproductive freedom," said Marsha Atkind, the group's president. Bush appointed Pickering to the bench Friday in a recess appointment, after Senate Democrats blocked his confirmation vote. Atkind said the move is "especially alarming" because Bush made the appointment on the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Boston Group Backs Same-Sex Marriage

Boston's Jewish Community Relations Council overwhelmingly endorsed same-sex marriage. Last week's vote by the 42 Jewish groups that make up the Boston JCRC came as Massachusetts considers the issue. Some groups are calling for a state amendment that would bar same-sex marriage after the state's Supreme Court struck down a ban on such marriages.

Rabbi Crafts Prayer for Porn

An Israeli rabbi crafted a prayer to help Jews overcome guilt for viewing Internet porn. According to Israel's daily Yediot Achronot, the prayer, created by Shlomo Eliahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, reads: "Please God, help me cleanse the computer of viruses and evil photographs that disturb and ruin my work, so that I shall be able to cleanse myself."

Eliahu said the prayer is a response to requests he has received from Orthodox Jews concerned that Internet pornography is endangering their family relationships. Eliahu suggests Jews use the prayer each time they use the Internet, in case pornography comes on their screen inadvertently.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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