Elbasan, Albania — Visar Hyseni shares space with three members of his immediate family, 22 distant relatives and displaced residents of Kosovo, as well as piles of pots, pans and blankets, in a room here the size of a modest college dorm.
Each morning he walks around the garden outside the former Albanian army officers club. In the afternoon, a little volley ball, at an impromptu net on the front lawn.
Jewish leaders for weeks have quietly urged European leaders, businessmen, humanitarian groups and United Nations diplomats to press Iran to release 13 Jews arrested 10 weeks ago. Perhaps in response, Iran publicly announced their arrests Monday and said they had been charged with spying for Israel and the United States.
by Michele Chabin |
Tirana, Albania — Barely six weeks ago, the recreational facility and park grounds known as Piscina, in the nation’s capital, was one of the few places where Albanian families could go for a swim, hike through the forest, or ride in bumper cars.
That was before local authorities turned Piscina into a refugee camp.
Since early April, it has served as a tent city for 2,500 ethnic Albanian refugees forced out of Yugoslavia by the Serbs.
Just as Jewish federations are being asked to provide $3 million to finance the rescue and resettlement in Israel of Jews fleeing Yugoslavia, the Jewish Agency has asked for another $12 million to handle similar operations for an unexpected number of Jews from Russia and Ethiopia.
James Besser |
Kosovo Crisis Roils U.S.-Israel Relations
U.S.-Israel relations, already strained by differences over the Oslo and Wye River agreements and the expansion of Jewish settlements, hit a new minefield this week as officials in Jerusalem signaled ambivalence about the U.S.-led NATO campaign to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
That reticence, officials here complain, damages Israel’s claim to be America’s most steadfast ally.
Even as Israeli doctors in Macedonia cared for ethnic Albanians forced by Serbs from their homes in Kosovo, rabbis throughout the New York area were making plans to meet Monday in Manhattan to develop a Jewish communal response to the crisis.
The call for the rabbinical conference came from the American Jewish World Service following the group’s appeal last week for funds to help the refugees. The appeal was made in an ad that featured a photo of Kosovo residents being sent into exile by train. The caption read: “Once again, there’s reason to remember.”