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September 3, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 34 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH .d By Matthew E. Berger WASHINGTON (JTA)--AI. legations that a Pentagon official passed documents to Israel through a pro-lsrael lobbying group have shaken Washington and drawn in- tense attention to the close relationship between the Bush administration and the Jewish state. Reports surfaced last Friday that a Defense Department of- ficial was being investigated by the FBI for passing secrets to Israel, and two staffers at the American Israel Public Af- fairs Committee are accused of serving as intermediaries, receiving the documents from the Pentagon aide and passing them to the Israelis. Media reports have identi- fied the Pentagon employee as Larry Franklin, but the AIPAC staffers have not been named. Israeli officials and AIPAC both denied the allegations, and Pentagon officials said they believed the investigation was limited in its scope. The allegations, first report- ed by CBS News, come just days before Republicans and AIPAC leaders were expected to tout close ties between the United States and Israel at the Repub- lican National Convention in New York. But the suspicion that Israeli officials gained access to clas- sified information could hurt the close coordination the two countries officially share, and L'SHANA TOVA JAY GOLD, M.D. Board certified Psychiatrist ALAN S. BERNS, M.D. Board Certified Psychiatrist Florida Psychiatric Consultants. P.A. 115 Timberlachen Circle Suite ! 005 Lake Mary. FL 32746 Adult Mental Health Care NEW PATIENTS WELCOME make governmental officials wary of dealing with Israeli representatives. If found true, the allegations could harm the reputation of AIPAC, considered the most successful foreign policy lob- bying group in Washington, with numerous advocates in Congress and in the American Jewish community. Jewish officials were down- playing the story Sunday, standing behind AIPAC and suggesting that business at the Republican convention would proceed as normal, with more than a dozen Re- publican legislators and party leaders expected to address closed-door AIPAC forums. At AIPAC's first event Satur- day evening, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) addressed the crowd as scheduled, and New York Gov. George Pataki (R) made a surprise appearance, saying he wanted to show his solidarity with the pro-Israel lobby. Other lawmakers and Jew- ish leaders were contacting AIPAC staff to find out how they could help or express their support. "All of us will go on with our business," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "There is no change because of this story, and we should wait to Shanah Torah May the New Year 5765 Be a Year of Health, Happiness and Peace CONGREGATION OF LIBERAL JUDAISM r Steven W. Engel, Rabbi Jacqueline Rawiszer, Cantorial Intern Samuel P. Goldstein, F.T.A Executive Director Julia Phillips, R.J.E Director Education Debra K. Gold, Program Director Melvin J. Kohn, President II HAPPY, HEALTHY & PEACEFUL NEW YEAR To ALL OUR WONDERFUL FRIENDS ALAN GINSBURG and FAMILY ALAN, RON, JAMIE, SHARON, DIANE and JOSEPH MAY THE NEW YEAR BRING YOU AND YOURS A JOYFUL LIFE! see what happens in the com- ing days." The charges evoked memories of Jonathan Pollard, the American Jew and former Navy intelligence officer who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. While some American Jew- ish leaders now work to free Pollard, his spying for the Jew- ish state temporarily strained relations between the allies. It also placed Jewish officials in the United States government under the microscope for sus- picions of dual loyalty. Franklin is not Jewish, however, and no motive for his alleged actions has been presented. Israeli sources said Saturday that Franklin's'work relations with Israeli officials did not exceed the boundaries of ac- cepted diplomatic contact, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported. The sources said checks con- ducted over the weekend negated all possibility of espionage or unacceptable conduct and that no Israeli had received classified information from Franklin. Because of the impact the Pollard case had on U. S. - Israeli relations, Israel made a deep strategic decision afterward not to spy in the United States, Israeli officials told JTA. No arrests in the investi- gation have been made, but according to the CBS News report the FBI has wiretaps, undercover surveillance and photography that show the exchange of a classified docu- ment regarding the formula- tion of Bush administration policy for Iran. Israel has grown increas- ingly concerned about Iran, with officials saying the country is a larger threat to the Jewish state than the for- mer Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Israel has stressed the threat Iran's nuclear weapons program poses to the stability of the Middle East. Franklin is a desk officer on Iran within the Near East and South Asia bureau at the Pen- tagon. The division is overseen by Douglas Feith, the under- secretary of defense for policy, who was considered a strong advocate for the Iraq war. Feith also was one of several Jewish "neo-conservatives" inside the government whom war critics have sought to portray as instigating the war in Iraq. Sources inside and outside the administration said Frank- lin was a career official who was close to retirementand not considered a main architect of policy within the office. According to media reports, some federal officials have suggested that the charges against Franklin may not rise to espionage, and rather may be limited to mishandling or improper use of classified materials, a more common charge. Reuters quoted one former AIPAC official as saying the group made ita matterofpolicy to hire former Pentagon staff- ers to keep Israel informed of U.S. policy. "It's a standard feature of the lobbying scene," the staffer said, according to Reuters. "How do you draw the line between a lobbyist briefing and spying? It's not as clear-cut as it should be." Jewish leaders seemed relieved that newspaper stories Sunday suggested the case might not rise to the level of criminal intent, and could instead be focused on the mishandling of documents. Some sug- gested that because of the close coordination that goes on between U.S. officials and Israelis and American Jewish leaders, it was possible that a barrier to criminal conduct was inadvertently crossed. "It's starting to sound more like a case of leaking than a case of spying," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "Both are violations of trust, but one is serious and one is less serious." Federal officials, who have been investigating this case for more than a year, suggest arrests could come as early as next week. It's unclear whether any AIPAC staffers could be charged as well. The organi- zation says it has made infor- mation available to federal in- vestigators, and staff members have been interviewed. "Any allegation conduct ployees is false the pro-Israel a statement FridaY. has violated any norhasA: ever rece believed was secret fled." The to stress that up of "proud and citizens rooting merican the fronl site Saturday. David Siegel, for the Israeli Washington, also allegations. "Th most cherished ally,"Sie Friday. all levels and Israel do this official said the ducted a tion Friday federal investigation. Jewish leaders the motives to the media timing. "This thingsmell mer senior JTA. "The Pentagon I to the Israeli them. They have high-level munication." in Washington say not officially investigators learned of it accounts. The Bush has touted its on Israel and with the Prime Sharon's govern administration with shutting ouq Authority Ararat estinian refu the right to recent weeks, officials also West Bank. Puerto Rican Anusim band By Larry Luxner SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico 0TA)--AsmallgroupofPuerto Ricans has rejected Christian- ity in favor of Judaism, which they believe to be the religion of their ancestors. Calling themselves B'nei Anusim, or children of the coerced, the group comprises 30 descendants of marranos Whose Jewish ancestors were forced to convert to Christi- anity. "We form a part of a project whose final goal is to return to Judaism," said Raul Rivera, a physical education teacher who acts as the group's spokes- man. "We study and use the Internet to get in contact with other people in the U.S. who are pursuing the same thing. It's a new approach developed by a group of rabbis to help anusim return to Judaism." The cadre of Puerto Rican crypto-.lews, which lives in scattered in mountain towns south of San Juan, gathers every Friday night for Shab- bat prayers at Bet Hakodesh, a makeshift synagogue in Aguas Buenas. Coming from nearby towns such as Caguas, Cayey and Cidra, many have names like Rodriguez, Gomez and Cardoso. The international anusim movement numbers in the thousands and is prevalent in Spain, Portugal, the Ca- nary Islands and through- out Latin America and the Caribbean--any.where the Inquisition forced Jews to practice their faith secretly. The movement has a Web site: www.gacetaanusim.com. "Up to 90 percent of all Hispanics have some Jewish heritage," says Rivera, 53, who alongwith his wife, Maria, and son, Danny, are studying hal- achah and the basic tenets of Orthodox Judaism with Rabbi Baruch Lande of New Jersey. Relations between Bet Hakodesh and the island's es- tablished Jewish community are weak, though Rivera and his fellow congregants receive spiritualadvice and kosher food from Chabad-Lubavitch. Asked what started him on his path to said: accept the idea siah comes and dieS fulfilling the We were all born as Christians, so years, we lived a false that the anusim dergo a Judaism idolatry, so we have I prove we Eventually, he said, nity plans to relocate park in north along with some minded DominicanS, and other Marshall LopeZ, Rico 21 now 1 Moshe ben Levy, Florida. "Most of our love for I ing told us that ot ticed Judaism."