Israeli-born man helped connect gay murder suspects to shul arsons

LOS ANGELES, July 20 (JTA) — An Israeli-born business executive has unwittingly supplied a piece of evidence linking two brothers to the fire-bombings at three California synagogues last month. Following the arsons on the synagogues in Sacramento, Calif., on June 18, Michael Zwebner offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonists. When federal and local investigators recently searched the home of brothers Benjamin Matthew, 31 and James Tyler Williams, 29, who were charged Monday with the murder of a gay couple in northern California on July 1, they found a notebook. It contained an apparent “hit list” with the names of 32 Sacramento Jews, mostly synagogue officials, who had been mentioned in media reports in connection with the fire bombings. One of the notations read, “Zwebner — Yid bizman — $10,000 reward on us.” The FBI added the incriminating notation to an increasing body of evidence, including a cache of white supremacist literature found at the brothers’ home, some of it identical to leaflets left at the targeted synagogues. A 48-year old native of Israel, Zwebner lives in London and is chairman of the Boston-based Talk Visual Corp. He recently established a center in Sacramento to expand his company’s operations. Recent news reports have linked the Williams brothers, who go by their middle names of Matthew and Tyler, to white supremacist hate groups, particularly the World Church of the Creator. This organization has been under close scrutiny following a shooting spree by former member Benjamin Nathaniel Smith over the July 4 weekend. Before shooting himself, Smith killed two men and wounded six Orthodox Jews near their Chicago synagogue. But investigators are questioning the connection between the Williams brothers and the World Church because they are fervent Christians, while the virulently anti-Semitic World Church also denounces Christianity as “concocted by the Jews for the very purpose of mongrelizing and destroying the White Race,” according to a study by the Anti-Defamation League. Investigators increasingly suspect that the brothers have been primarily influenced by the Christian Identity movement, sometimes called the Israel Identity movement. The Christian Identity Web site and literature proclaim that the Jewish people were produced by the union of Eve and Satan, and that “these children of Satan through Cain are a race of vipers.” The group’s “theology,” which also holds that only Aryans are the true Israelites, provides “religious” underpinnings for a wide range of hate groups, according to the ADL study. Figures quoted recently by the Los Angeles Times cite up to 50,000 Christian Identity followers, concentrated in 90 active ministries in 34 states, but membership numbers for hate groups are rarely precise because adherents tend to float from one group to another, guided by the World Wide Web.

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