Sunday, November 04, 2007

UN Watch Under Guard!

It could just be a mistake.... but.

Hillel C. Neuer, a noted U.N. critic, was arrested in Needham Friday

The man arrested at a Needham pizzeria Friday leads a human rights watchdog group, has penned op-eds for international newspapers and delivered a scathing and widely publicized address on Israel before the United Nations earlier this year.

Hillel C. Neuer, 37, who lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland, was cuffed after an hourlong standoff with police when jittery pizza shop workers thought they spotted him with a gun. No gun was found. Neuer was charged with disorderly conduct.

Neuer’s shocked colleagues at the American Jewish Committee in New York said he was in the United States on a speaking tour regarding his new report on anti-Semitism in the U.N. Earlier in the week, Neuer spoke in New York and at Yale University, and he’d stopped in Needham to meet with a fund-raiser. Neuer is slated to speak to the Boston chapter of the AJC today.

“Hillel Neuer seems to have been an unfortunate victim of a profound mistake which led to his arrest,” said Kenneth Bandler, national spokesman for the American Jewish Committee. “We are hopeful that with legal help, this will be resolved this weekend.”

Just before Neuer walked in to Stone Hearth Pizza Friday afternoon, news of a brutal murder and a killer on the loose had spread through the suburban enclave. A pizza shop worker said Friday night that Neuer had entered the shop acting as if he was in distress, carrying several large bags and saying he wanted a taxi to Newton.

“He was just really nervous when he came in talking to me. He said, ‘I want you to get me a cab.’ Right after that, he got up, went to the bathroom to change and came back with new clothes on,” said Dante Rogers, 24, of Needham.

Rogers said Neuer emerged wearing a blue suit and tie, sat down to eat his pizza, took one bite, then left and ran next door to CVS. Rogers said he was in the back making himself a pizza when Neuer returned and someone screamed.

“Someone yelled, ‘Gun. Gun. Gun,’ ” Rogers said. “Everyone was on the phone with 911. He saw the cruisers and he dove behind the tables and I ran out the back door.”

Yesterday, Rogers said his co-workers were likely jittery from the news coverage of the murder, but he said they did not overreact.

“They hear there’s a murder. They see a guy acting funny. They’re going to go crazy,” he said. “People are people, you know? They do what they have to do to make themselves feel safe.”

Neuer, a Montreal native, holds three law degrees. Since 2004, he has worked as executive director of U.N. Watch, a 14-year-old Geneva-based nongovernmental organization affiliated with the AJC. The group believes in the United Nations’ mission to “provide for a more just world,” according to its Web site.

Neuer has written nearly a dozen op-eds blasting the U.N.’s Council on Human Rights for papers including the International Herald Tribune, The Jerusalem Post and The Boston Globe. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN, Fox New

s and the BBC, and testified before Congress last year on human rights issues.

In March, he appeared before the U.N. Human Rights Council, calling it a “do-nothing, good-for-nothing council” that seeks to “scapegoat the Jewish people.”

The speech made the rounds on the blogosphere and was viewed more than 267,000 times on’

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