World Briefs

Guard hurt while preventing attack at Moscow shul

Russian police beefed up security around a central synagogue of Moscow following what they said was an attempted attack in which a security guard sustained mild injuries.

The incident occurred on Oct. 1 at the Moscow Choral Synagogue, where the alleged attacker, carrying a canister of gasoline and a firearm, lightly wounded a security guard during a struggle, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. Police detained the suspect, who threatened to burn down the building, according to the report.

The Moskovskij Komsomolets daily reported the 35-year-old security guard, who has worked at the synagogue for two years, suffered injuries to his hand while preventing the suspect from entering the building, after which other security guards overpowered him.

The attacker was Ivan Lebedev, a 40-year-old man with a history of mental illness, the Moscow paper reported.

Approximately 150 people, including the chief rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt, were in the building when the attempted attack happened, Goldschmidt wrote on Facebook. Goldschmidt wrote the suspect was carrying a pistol.

Police told Goldschmidt they would be beefing up security around the synagogue for the rest of the Jewish holiday season.

Anti-Semitic attacks are rare in Russia, where watchdogs record a few dozen of them annually — a fraction of the tally recorded in Western European countries with large Jewish communities, including France and the United Kingdom.

Notwithstanding, some synagogues in Russia are guarded by security carrying automatic firearms for fear of terrorist attacks by Muslim radicals who have long targeted Russia. — jta

Eurasian countries reveal plan to curb anti-Semitism

The 57 European and Eurasian countries that compose the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are embarking on a three-year initiative to promote education and awareness about anti-Semitism and to address Jewish community security.

The initiative, titled “Words into Action to Address Anti-Semitism,” was announced Oct. 5. It was launched by the parliament of Germany, which currently chairs the OSCE, and is being spearheaded by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international Jewish affairs, serves as OSCE’s personal representative on combating anti-Semitism.

“OSCE participating states have recognized that anti-Semitism poses a threat to stability and security in the OSCE region,” Michael Georg Link, director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said in a statement. “They agreed to undertake a number of steps to address the problem in cooperation with civil society.”

Earlier this year, the OSCE sought grant applications from universities, museums, schools, ministries of education and civil society organizations to develop programs for countering anti-Semitism through the arts, education, media and coalition building. The grants for the chosen projects will range from $5,600 to $45,000.

Earlier this week, the Anti-Defamation League presented recommendations to the OSCE’s annual human rights conference on advancing security for targets of anti-Semitism and hate crimes.

“The participating European and Eurasian states have recognized the serious threat posed by anti-Semitism and have made critical commitments to address this concerning issue,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement welcoming the OSCE initiative. “We commend the German government for challenging states to put their commitments into action and for funding and catalyzing this initiative.” — jta


Chief U.S. lawyer’s comments mark 70 years since Nuremberg trials

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the most important development in war crimes prosecutions since the trials was the recognition of rape as a war crime.

“One of the greatest advances of international criminal law over the last generation has been the recognition of gender-based violence as a war crime,” Lynch said in a Sept. 30 interview.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda classified rape as a war crime as a result of rulings in the 1990s.

Lynch spoke in Nuremberg on Sept. 29 at the International Humanitarian Law Dialogues at an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Nazi war crimes trials in that German city.  The trials, which held Nazi officials accountable for their genocide of Jews and other war crimes, formed the basis for current war crimes prosecutions.

Lynch said the recognition of rape as a war crime, coupled with the proliferation of prosecutions, including against commanders in the Balkans, Sudan and the Republic of Congo, was a testament to how a younger generation of prosecutors was increasingly committed to justice.

When she attended law school, Lynch said, students exploring international law saw it as an avenue on “how to make money” through corporate law. “Now most students talking about international law are asking how they can make a difference,” she said.

Lynch acknowledged discrepancies in the application of international law, where some alleged perpetrators are quickly caught and others — notably Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir — are able to evade justice because of a network of friendly leaders who allow them to travel without being arrested.

“We have to constantly reinvent the ways we tackle this evil,” she said. — jta