Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is heading to New York City next month, as he's scheduled to speak at the United Nations on September 23. And he'll also be spending some time in NJ: Because the Libyan Mission to the U.N. owns property in Englewood, NJ, that's where Gadhafi will be setting up his "large air-conditioned tent."
See, usually Gadhafi would set up his Bedouin tent by the U.N., but that area is under renovation, so Libyan officials asked NYC officials if Gadhafi could set it up in Central Park instead (like some art installation?)—he recently did so in Rome. (And he also has many female bodyguards.) The Post said that idea was nixed (Newsweek's August 15 article quoted the State Department as saying, "The location for the tent is still an open question"), so Englewood it was! One neighbor told the Post, "I think having a terrorist living next door would be devastating, and I'd consider moving."
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who lives next to Libya's NJ property, has a column in the Jerusalem Post acknowledges that the leader deserved credit for things like dismantling the WMD program, a settlement for Lockerbie bombing victims' families, and saying that Palestinians and Israelis needed to work together for a unified future. But, Boteach writes, Gadhafi "continues to be a autocrat who has ruled his people for four decades... Judaism believes in repentance. But it says that a true penitent expresses himself in not only correcting the damage he has done but by committing to righteous action in the future. Words are not enough."
Of course, the publicity about Gadhafi's visit has NJ officials upset. Rep. Steve Rothman said, "If there is a possibility of him visiting Englewood, we should do everything to prevent that," while Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes said, "Unless this man comes into the U.S. and starts paying his share to reside in this community, this mayor and this community will not be coming with honeycake and sugar."
And in news related to the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, FBI Director Robert Mueller sent a critical letter to the Scottish government, "Your action makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own on December 21, 1988." Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond fired back, saying it was the "right decision...We didn't do it to court popularity... it was the right thing to do in terms of the Scottish justice system." Gadhafi has thanked British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Andrew for releasing al Megrahi.