Even as efforts continue to gain freedom for 13 Iranian Jews jailed by their government on suspicion of spying, new information is surfacing about 11 other Jews who vanished while attempting to flee Iran illegally between 1994 and 1997.
The information, some of which emerged at a public meeting in Los Angeles last month, is threatening to further fracture an Iranian Jewish community in the United States caught between the impulse to protest, and to stick to silent diplomacy in its efforts to help imperiled brethren.
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.
Ambassador Bagher Asadi of Iran’s UN Mission joined the Likud Party’s former representative in the United States in a ritual dipping of apples in honey to welcome the Jewish New Year Monday.
For some, the breakfast meeting seemed downright messianic — especially when a tardy Israeli Consul General Shmuel Sisso joined the affair, which was sponsored by a new, self-described peace group backed by large Israeli businesses such as El Al and Bezek. Staunchly anti-Zionist, Iran has yet to even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.
During an academic conference in Boston last month, Sasha Toperich, a multilingual native of Bosnia-Herzegovina, presented a speech on recent political developments in the Balkans.
That was appropriate — Toperich is a diplomat.
Toperich also gave a concert during the two-day conference.
That, too, was appropriate — he’s a concert pianist.
As 13 Iranian Jews suspected of spying for Israel and the United States are set to go on trial April 13, an American Jewish leader has cited some ominous signs coming from Iran.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, said lawyers for the accused were barred from entering prison to allow their clients to sign retainer statements even after the investigating judge (who also will serve as the trial judge without a jury) had asked the suspects' families to hire counsel.