The organized American Jewish community will soon “reassess” its policy of public restraint toward Iran if Tehran does not move toward freeing 13 Iranian Jews imprisoned on suspicion of espionage, a Jewish leader active on the issue said Monday.
“There must just be some point where we make a judgment [that] it’s time to reconsider,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
When Tehran police handcuffed Sepehr Ebn Yamin last Sunday and hauled him off to jail in connection with a business dispute, the 45-year-old Iranian Jew’s health was already less than hearty: Just two weeks earlier he had suffered a minor heart attack.
By last Monday, Ebn Yamin was dead. And his family in Los Angeles is charging Tehran police with willful negligence of his cries for medical help.
For Israel, the pressure has lifted — for now. After weeks of escalating criticism, the Clinton administration has suddenly taken a more benign tack in its dealings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s meetings with Netanyahu and with Palestinian Authority chief Yasir Arafat last week reset the clock for the two leaders to make some fateful decisions — decisions that so far they have studiously avoided.
Under a bright sun, Guilla Boukhobza walked up to a microphone in front of the Isaiah Wall near the United Nations and cleared her throat.
For the first time, she was going to publicly talk about her family's perilous expulsion from her native Libya.
It was not easy, Boukhobza confided, because even a generation later, a deep fear remains about discussing the heart-rending events that forced her parents and seven siblings to leave Tripoli one step ahead of anti-Jewish mobs.
Groucho Marx once said he would never join a club that would accept him as a member. Presumably, he knew what the requirements were for joining.
But that's apparently not the case with the nation's premier America Jewish umbrella group, the Conference of President of Major American Jewish Organizations, at least according to one Jewish organization. Meretz USA, a group supporting civil rights and peace in Israel, says it can't get into the President's Conference, and worse, hasn't been able to find out why.
On the eve of his first U.S. visit since becoming deputy prime minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, who calls for stripping Israeli Arabs of their citizenship, has received a provisional pass from much of the Jewish establishment — and a stamp of approval from one leader who denounced him just last May.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Jewish Week this week, “I don’t see anything extremist since he became part of the government.”
President Bush is risking a backlash that could injure the Jewish community — and his own cause — by repeatedly citing Israel as his top rationale for possible U.S. military conflict with Iran, Jewish leaders and Middle East analysts warned this week.
The drumbeat call for “change” coming from the campaign of presidential candidate Barack Obama is generating “legitimate concern over the zeitgeist around the campaign,” the head of American Jewry’s primary umbrella group reportedly said Tuesday.
Jewish groups are taking a wait-and-see attitude about Monday's announcement that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to set up a fund for American companies wishing to provide humanitarian assistance to Holocaust-era slave and forced laborers, including tens of thousands living in the U.S.