Australian politicians apologize to Jewish groups


SYDNEY, Australia, June 26 (JTA) — Two Australian politicians, claiming they were duped, have apologized to Jewish groups here after signing petitions connected to U.S. extremist Lyndon LaRouche.

Peter Webb, a member of the legislative assembly of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, said he signed a petition circulated by the Citizens’ Electoral Councils because he supports “economic reform.”

The petition was subsequently published in that group’s magazine in support of the economic theories of LaRouche.

These petitions were not overtly anti-Semitic. But LaRouche, who has served a prison term for mail fraud and tax evasion, champions an ideology that combines anti-Semitism and bizarre conspiracy theories, such as a claim that former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger worked for the Soviet KGB.

A member of Australia’s Parliament, Bob Katter, also signed the petition, later claiming that he had thought it was “a harmless little motherhood statement.”

Webb’s explanation that he was duped came after Australian Cabinet member Morris Iemma gave a speech condemning Australians who had been harassing Aborigines while wearing Ku Klux Klan regalia.

Iemma also criticized the Citizens’ Economics Councils for its propagation of claims that the Queen of England “is involved in drug trafficking” and a series of “bizarre economic theories.”

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