WASHINGTON (Jan. 10)
Rep. Nick Rahall II (D-W.V.) has asked Secretary of State George Shultz to consider closing the offices of the Jewish Defense League, but Shultz has rejected the idea, an aide to Rahall said.
Rahall’s request followed the State Department’s Sept. 15 decision to close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington office on the basis that it is a terrorist organization.
Jerry Burkot, Rahall’s press secretary, said that in a Nov. 20 letter to Shultz, Rahall noted JDL terrorist activity, saying three JDL members pleaded guilty Aug. 13 to terrorist bombings and were later sentenced.
The three are Victor Vancier, Jay Cohen and Murray Young. Vancier said he had been the JDL’s national chairman until November 1986, while Cohen and Young were JDL board members.
They admitted responsibility for at least five other bombings over the last three years and a scam to divert to JDL money raised ostensibly on behalf of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.
Rahall told Shutz that if the State Departments concerned about terrorist organizations on U.S. soil, it should try to close the JDL’s U.S. offices, Burkot said.
Shultz’s response, received Jan. 6, stated that the State Department was powerless to close the JDL offices because, unlike the PLO, JDL is not a foreign mission that can be closed under the Foreign Missions Act.
MAY INTRODUCE LEGISLATION
But the aide said Rahall is considering introducing legislation when Congress reconvenes Jan. 25 that would close the JDL offices.
Irv Rubin, JDL national chairman since August 1985, argued against closing the office as well as the charges in Rahall’s letter, He said Friday that the three men were not JDL members.
Rubin asserted that the three were members of a New York organization called Jewish Direct Action, which had no ties to the JDL.
Barry Greenspan, who runs the JDL’s Los Angeles office along with Rubin, said that Vancier was “thrown out” of the JDL in 1982 and Vancier “was using our name illegally.”
Rubin said the JDL has close to 7,000 members and operates offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal and Philadelphia.
Greenspan noted that Rahall is a member of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s National Advisory Committee, which he said is “pro-PLO.”
Meanwhile, three left-wing Jewish organizations have signed on to a “friend-of-the-court” brief defending the PLO’s right to operate its Washington office.
The three Jewish organizations among the 56 signatories are New Jewish Agenda, the International Jewish Peace Union and Washington Area Jews for an Israeli-Palestinian Peace.
The appeal is scheduled to be heard Feb. 23. The office, which had been receiving $350,000 annually from the PLO, has been closed since Dec. 3.