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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      April 27, 1995, V3, #78
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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Shahak: Islamic Jihad Threatens to Kill Palestinian Leaders

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. General Amnon Shahak told the Knesset a threat from Syria still exists. Shahak also said the Islamic Jihad recently warned the Palestinian Authority that they intend to assassinate its leaders. He said that the warning explains why the Authority is taking a tougher line against the Islamic Jihad as compared to Hamas.

Anniversary Today Commemorates Liberation of Bergen-Belsen

By Evans Hays (Bergen-Belsen)

Hundreds of people are gathering in the small, north German town of Bergen-Belsen for this week's commemoration of the day 50 years ago that Allied troops liberated the Nazi concentration camp here. The actual liberation, by British forces, came on April 15, 1945, but officials are commemorating the date two weeks late in line with other ceremonies taking place across Germany.

The commemorations began earlier this year at the Nazi death camps liberated by Allied forces. The ceremonies have been a tribute to those who were killed and to those who survived.

Survivors and their families are now gathering in Bergen-Belsen, a former Nazi concentration camp not far from the northern German industrial city of Hanover.

More than 100,000 prisoners died here, including tens of thousands of Jews, Soviet war prisoners and others. Anne Frank, the girl who hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam, and whose diary became a legend died here.

The camp is now a memorial, tucked neatly into the northern German landscape of pine trees and heather fields. On the site, there is a museum dedicated to the Holocaust.

Some camp survivors have said Bergen-Belsen is too clean now to provide the proper memories of a horror that ended 50 years ago. But that has not kept them from returning.

Other guests on hand for the commemoration ceremonies include German President Roman Herzog and the head of Germany's Jewish community, Ignatz Bubis.

Supreme Court Hears Columbus KKK Case

By Jane Berger (Washington)

The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in an important religious case from Ohio. The court decision's could further clarify the constitutional boundaries for religious speech and religious displays on public property.

For many years, Ohio every December has permitted the display of a large Christmas tree and a large Chanukah menorah in a public square in front of the state Capitol Building in Columbus.

In December of 1993, the state barred the Ku Klux Klan from erecting a huge cross along with the other displays in the square. The state said the cross was a purely religious symbol, and therefore would violate the constitutional requirement to separate church from state.

There was no mention in legal arguments that the Klan has always used the cross historically to symbolize its strong political opposition to African-Americans, Jews, and other members of minority groups.

The Klan sought and received an injunction from a federal district court to allow the cross to remain. The court's decision said any reasonable observer would conclude that the government was expressing its toleration of religious and secular pluralism, and not endorsing religion. A federal appeals court agreed with that decision, and the state then appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

Arguing on behalf of state, Attorney Mike Renner told the justices that any purely religious symbol should be barred from government property.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- the court's only African-American -- was the only court member who questioned the Klan's motives. Justice Thomas asked whether the Klan's cross was a religious or a political symbol.

Speaking to reporters after the session was over, Ohio's Attorney General Betty Montgomery said the Klan was attempting to use the symbol of Christianity to knock down the constitution's wall of separation between church and state.

"We argue that Ohio's obligation to enforce the First Amendment's separation between church and state outweighs any right the Klan has to post the ultimate symbol of Christianity at the seat of state government. We think withholding official state endorsement of any religious symbol strengthens all religions because the practice of religion should be guided by the personal faith, not government regulation."

Arguing in favor of the KKK, Attorney Benson Wolman of the American Civil Liberties Union said Ohio had violated the Klan's right to free speech by barring the display of a cross in a public place.

"My clients put forth their symbol for mixed reasons. They did it partly because it was the holiday season, but probably more than anything, because the state told them that the menorah could be up, but not their cross. That's discrimination of the most rank sort. And we believe that the State of Ohio simply developed a new rule to fit the particular occasion."

Wolman said he is Jewish, and does not personally agree with the political views of the Klan. But he said even though free speech may at times be abhorrent, it is important to protect that constitutional right.

"We find that there is value in protecting their (the Klan's) rights, because if you eliminate their rights, who is next? And if they are off the fringe, then who's the next fringe that moves up?"

The Supreme Court has long struggled to define the boundaries between freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the requirement to separate church and state. Each year during the Christmas holidays, confusion reigns in local communities over what kind of religious displays are allowed. Legal experts say the court perhaps will issue some clear guidelines defining what is permissible and what is not. A decision in the Ohio case is expected by the end of June.

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