At the urging of leaders in the Iranian Jewish community here, American Jewish leaders this week suspended their public campaign calling for the release of 13 Jews accused of espionage in Iran.
Instead, they are beginning to implicitly acknowledge the inevitability of a trial for the 13 by shifting their demands to the legal arena.
A wave of protests and counter-protests across Iran this week has swept the fate of 13 Jews jailed there for espionage into a far corner of the country’s concern.
One of Iran’s more controversial international issues last week, the Jews’ fate shriveled in importance for Iranian leaders as their deep, longstanding internal conflicts flared into open battle between respective supporters in the streets of Tehran and other major cities.
A longstanding power struggle between Iran’s top leaders crystallized this week over the legal system that will decide the fate of 13 Iranian Jews charged with spying for Israel and America.
Offering the first specifics on the case against them, Iran’s foreign minister said Monday that the 13 were arrested “on charges of illegally gathering secret information, including military information, and handing it over to foreigners.”
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad continued his verbal campaign against Jews this week with the enthusiastic support of American anti-Semites, as one American Jewish official called on world leaders to speak out against the rising rhetoric.
The Anti-Defamation League reported this week that U.S. anti-Semitic groups are encouraging members to voice their support for Mahathir.
Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran who was elected on a reformist platform, has described the Holocaust as a "historical reality," a sharp rebuke to statements by his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that the murder of European Jewry was a "myth" used by the West to justify support for Israel.
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.