In a surprising move, a leader of Brooklyn's large, generally hawkish Syrian Jewish community has lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for refusing to talk with Syria, as pressure built on multiple fronts on Washington and Jerusalem to dialogue with Damascus.
Jack Avital, a longtime confidante of Ariel Sharon and chairman of the Sephardic National Alliance, told The Jewish Week last week he planned to publish an open letter to Olmert laying out his case against Israel's rejection of such talks to the Syrian Jewish community.
It was 22 years ago that Chava Katz and 12 other young Jewish women were permitted by the Syria government to leave their homeland and travel to the United States to find a Jewish husband. Now, with Israel and Syria talking peace, she has mixed emotions.
"I hope they do it," she said of the peace negotiations. "But I don't trust any Arab countries. Would I ever go back? Never! Even my husband asks me that. But I would never return because times there were very tough."