Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

News Brief


Bill Clinton said U.S. citizens who broke the law smuggling guns to the nascent Jewish state proved there are times when it’s acceptable to break the law.

“Once in a while it’s worth risking your neck to make sure nobody sinks just because the rules are rigged against them,” the former U.S. president said Wednesday to raucous applause at a Washington dinner honoring Jimmy Hoffa, the legendary Teamsters leader who facilitated such smuggling. U.S. authorities at the time banned the sales of guns to any parties to the conflict, placing the struggling Jewish state at a disadvantage over enemies that had standing armies. The fund-raising dinner for the Yitzhak Rabin Center raised over $2 million and showered honors on the children of Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975, and the children of his associate in the arms-smuggling enterprise, Hank Greenspun, a Nevada real estate and newspaper magnate who died in 1989. Clinton remembered Rabin as a leader who understood that Israel would not achieve security “unless a just and lasting peace could be achieved for the Palestinians and their children too.”

Top federal lawyers told Americans seeking legal redress from the Palestinian Authority for terrorist acts that the Bush administration has yet to decide its position. About 20 survivors of terrorist attacks and the families of those killed in terrorist attacks met Wednesday with about a dozen lawyers from the State and Justice departments led by John B. Bellinger III, the State Department’s top lawyer. A federal court in December asked the government for an opinion on efforts by the families to force the Palestinian Authority to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars won in civil litigation. The P.A. has argued that such payment would bankrupt it at a time that it is endeavoring to face down extremists and arrive at a peace deal with Israel. The meeting lasted for several hours; the families related their stories at length, and left more positive than when they entered, said a source close to the group. Earlier reports had suggested that the Bush administration was leaning toward intervening on the P.A.’s behalf. The families have also lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and on Thursday they will culminate their meetings in a session with Kenneth Wainstein, the assistant attorney general for national security.

Recommended from JTA