Judge: Those we receive classified info are liable

JTA Briefs

The judge in the leak case against two former staffers of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said classified information laws bind civilians, including journalists. “Persons who have unauthorized possession, who come into unauthorized possession of classified information, must abide by the law, ” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said Friday.

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“That applies to academics, lawyers, journalists, professors, whatever. ” Ellis had just sentenced Lawrence Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst, to over 12 years in prison for communicating classified information. Franklin is expected to testify in the case against former AIPAC staffers Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman when it goes to trial April 25. The two men allegedly relayed classified information to an Israeli diplomat, a journalist and to fellow AIPAC staffers. Ellis’ comment was the clearest sign yet that the Rosen-Weissman case could have broad First Amendment implications. Rosen and Weissman are believed to be the first individuals ever charged under a World War I-era statute that makes it a crime for civilians to relay classified information.

“It’s an alarming statement, ” Steven Aftergood, who runs a government secrecy project at the Federation of American Scientists, said of Ellis’ comment. “It appears to prejudge one of the main issues in dispute in the next stage of this case. “

Schustermans expand to Israel

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is opening an office in Jerusalem and will expand funding efforts in Israel. The nonprofit, to be called Keren Schusterman, or Schusterman Foundation-Israel, should be formed in late January, according to Sandy Cardin, executive director of the parent foundation. The Israel office will focus on helping victims of child abuse and strengthening Jewish identity, a need that is “as great in Israel as in the former Soviet Union or the United States, ” Cardin says. The foundation is particularly interested in Jewish identity projects that bridge the divide between secular and religious Israelis, he says.

Charedi center in Jerusalem rejected

Jerusalem city officials rejected a plan for a large convention center solely for fervently Orthodox Jews. The controversial proposal for an $8 million, sex-segregated cultural center was shot down after harsh criticism from non-charedi officials, the Jerusalem Post reported. The capital’s mayor, Uri Lupolianski, is fervently Orthodox but has pledged not to favor one group over another. The proposed center would have been bigger than the city’s International Convention Center, which is not dedicated to any particular segment of society. Nir Barkat, leader of the city council opposition, called the proposed center “an immense and completely unnecessary waste of money, ” the Post reported.

German FM: Israeli nukes don’t justify Iran

Israel’s nuclear program does not justify the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries, Germany’s foreign minister said. “This excuse which you call ‘double standards’ does not justify allowing us to see a nuclear power which will worsen the situation, ” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday in Egypt during comments on Iran, according to Yediot Achronot’s Ynet Web site. “Rather, we should use all possibilities to eliminate nuclear proliferation. ” Israel is pushing for sanctions on Iran, which is believed to be developing nuclear weapons and has called for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Palestinians rank peacemaking low

Palestinians care far more about internal security and the release of prisoners than about negotiating peace, a new poll shows. The highest-ranking issues in the poll, released ahead of Jan. 25 Palestinian legislative elections, were, in order of importance: release of prisoners from Israeli jails, creating internal security, forging national unity, increasing employment and fighting corruption. Confronting Israel and negotiating peace were much lower down. The poll was commissioned by the Arab American Institute and was taken last week; results were published Friday. AAI President James Zogby said Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip helped explain the low priority given to peace talks. “If Palestinians had any confidence that peace negotiations were possible and that their choice in the election would determine whether or not negotiations might occur, their choice on election day could be affected, ” he said.