Jewish leaders have rejected the assertion of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami that he will not intervene in the case of 10 Iranian Jews convicted of spying for Israel.
“He has to use his influence to see that justice is done,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “We believe that he has to be involved when there is an injustice.”
While Jewish leaders joined in hailing this week’s announcement that the human genetic code had been deciphered, their enthusiasm was tempered by their knowledge of how the Nazis tried to use eugenics to create a master race.
As Syrian President Hafez Assad was buried Tuesday following a fatal heart attack three days earlier, all eyes shifted to his son Bashar to see if the military and political establishment that thrust him into his father’s shoes would remain loyal to him.
Leaders in several countries also expressed the hope that Bashar, 34, a British-trained ophthalmologist, would break the stalemate that has prevented a Syrian-Israeli peace treaty.
As the Jewish community awaited a verdict as early as next week in the trial of 13 Iranian Jews charged with spying for Israel, a prominent rabbi charged that a massive prayer vigil he had planned in their behalf was “sabotaged” by a major Jewish group.
As the trial of the 13 Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel appeared to be winding down this week with another two defendants confessing, supporters of the 13 openly disagreed on whether this is the most propitious time to hold public events in their behalf.
As three more of the 13 Iranian Jews charged with spying for Israel pleaded guilty Monday — bringing to six the number who have confessed to date — Jewish leaders and human rights groups were discounting the confessions.
“It’s ludicrous to say that they are part of an espionage spy ring,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
State insurance commissioners and Jewish groups are expressing concern about the high rate of rejected Holocaust-era claims submitted to European insurers who had promised to pay claims with relaxed standards of proof. To date, 75 percent of all claims have been denied.
“I am deeply disturbed by what’s going on,” said Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.
The televised “confession” by an Iranian Jew to spying for Israel was predictable, Jewish leaders maintain, but they heatedly denied Iranian claims that Hamid “Danny” Tefileen had made similar statements Monday during a four-hour trial in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz.
Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts were under way to punish Iran by denying it more than $200 million in loans from the World Bank.
In the weeks before Reform rabbis met to sanction officiating at gay and lesbian unions, rabbis on both sides of the issue waged a spirited debate on Web chat rooms.
“The amount of vituperation on the Internet became unbearable,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin of the Community Synagogue in Port Washington, L.I. “There were personal attacks, professional attacks, outright lies and innuendoes.”
Jewish organizations are turning their attention to Austria following agreement last week on how to divide a $5.2 billion German fund to compensate Nazi-era laborers and those whose bank accounts, insurance policies and property were stolen by the Nazis.
“It’s 60 years too late, but it brings a measure of justice,” said Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, of the German settlement.