Jewish Extremist Among Suspects in Bombing of Johannesburg Shul by Carolyn Raphaely
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Jewish Extremist Among Suspects in Bombing of Johannesburg Shul by Carolyn Raphaely

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David Israel Rootenberg, an adopted child raised as a Jew, has been charged here with bombing a synagogue and defacing it with anti-Jewish slogans.

Rootenberg, 42, a builder who owns a liquor store in the Vereeniging area, just south of Johannesburg, is one of 10 right-wing extremists arrested last weekend after a series of bombings and threats aimed against apartheid reforms to end white minority rule.

Other charges against them are said to include a June 29 attack on the home of Jewish City Councillor Clive Gilbert of the Democratic Party and a July 1 bomb explosion at his business premises.

The target of the July 1 synagogue bombing was the South Eastern Hebrew Center in Rosettenville, a working-class section of southern Johannesburg. Spray-painted in black on the synagogue’s front wall were two swastikas and several slogans that made reference to Jewish support for the anti-apartheid movement.

While the police declined to release details of the arrests on the grounds that it might hamper the investigation, other sources described Rootenberg as the former chief of Aquila, the paramilitary branch of the extreme right-wing Afrikaner Resistance Movement, known by the initials AWB. He apparently left the AWB two years ago.

According to a Johannesburg newspaper, The Daily Mail, Rootenberg had a Bar Mitzvah and a “normal Jewish upbringing.”

After Rootenberg’s adoption, his “parents gave birth to two boys, but all three children were treated identically,” the paper reported.

Rootenberg is understood to be a close friend of Barend Strydom, who was sentenced to death for murdering black passersby in a shooting rampage in Pretoria last year.

Arrested with Rootenberg were Leonard Veenedal and Darryl Stopfurth, both wanted for murder in Namibia.

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