TEL AVIV (Jul. 4)
A spokesman for the Jewish Defense League told a press conference here yesterday that the militant organization which had its origins in racially tense neighborhoods of New York three years ago, will soon open headquarters in Israel. According to Neil Rothenberg, a 20-year-old New Yorker who presented himself as the “international coordinator of the JDL youth movement,” its functions will be entirely educational. Rothenberg denied reports that JDL was shifting its headquarters to Israel to escape harassment by American authorities. He claimed rather that the aim is to form a headquarters in “the international center of the Jewish nation–Israel” to help by educational means to “bridge the gap between various groups.” Rothenberg described the JDL’s principles as “love of Israel” and “the unity of Israel.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned that one of the first activities planned by the JDL in Israel is a demonstration to be held in Jerusalem within the next two weeks to pressure the Israel Government to demand the extradition of Abraham Hershkowitz. Hershkowitz, a JDL member was convicted of passport fraud in New York and sentenced to five years imprisonment.
The JDL has already caused Israeli authorities a headache. U.S. Embassy security men last week seized the American passport of Christina Canziani, a non-Jewish Italian girl who came to Israel eight months ago with her American Jewish boyfriend, a JDL member. The American agents claim her passport was forged which Miss Canziani freely admits. She is believed to be wanted by the American police on suspicion of using explosives and participating in the harassment of Soviet diplomats, a favorite JDL tactic. The legal issue raised here is whether U.S. agents can confiscate a passport on foreign territory. The U.S. Embassy has made no official comment but American sources here observed that the passport was U.S. property and therefore could be confiscated. The Israeli Foreign Ministry may intervene. A National Religious Party MK, Yehuda Ben Meir, demanded to know who permitted U.S. agents to “harass” a woman in Israel because of her connection with the JDL.
Miss Canziani refused to say who gave her a forged passport. She claims she wants to convert to Judaism and is living with an Orthodox group in Hebron. Her boyfriend, who was not identified, is facing charges here of allegedly extorting money from fellow students at Bar Han University.