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FBI probes potential hate crime near college

Israeli emissary said to be targeted

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By John C. Drake
Globe Staff / March 17, 2008

Two Molotov cocktails were hurled at the off-campus apartment of an Israeli emissary who works with Jewish students at Brown University early Saturday, an attack the FBI is investigating as a potential hate crime.

No one was hurt in the attack. One of the devices crashed through a window but did not explode, and a second one glanced off the side of the building and ignited a small fire in the yard, police said.

The apparent target of the attack is one of 500 emissaries worldwide of the Jerusalem-based Jewish Agency for Israel, a nonprofit whose goal is to connect Jewish people with Israel, said a spokesman for the organization. The victim is also the Israel fellow on the staff of Hillel, a Jewish student group serving Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Brown University said it was providing support to the employee. In a statement released yesterday, university officials said authorities had no suspects and no motives for the attack.

"This is the first time that a Jewish Agency emissary has been attacked in America, either criminal or political," Michael Jankelowitz, a spokesman for the organization, said in a telephone interview yesterday.

"There's no nexus to terrorism," said Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the Boston field office of the FBI.

"We would look at it as a potential hate crime."

Over the last week, the Jewish Agency has coordinated commemorations on university campuses and in other venues marking the March 6 killings of eight students at a rabbinical institute in Jerusalem.

Jankelowitz said the organization would not speculate on a motive.

"This, we feel, is the responsibility of the local police and the FBI," Jankelowitz said. "Until such time as we know what is behind this attack, we are not making any comments on the attack per se."

The Jewish Agency has 25 Israel fellows at campuses across the United States. They provide education about Israel and help coordinate trips to Israel for Jewish students, Jankelowitz said. About 20 percent of Brown students and 10 percent of Rhode Island School of Design students are Jewish, according to Hillel.

Globe correspondent John Forrester contributed to this story. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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