WASHINGTON (Jul. 2)
Jewish community leaders here expressed sorrow, anger and bewilderment today over the murder early yesterday morning of Col. Yosef Alon, the Israeli Air Attache, by unknown gunmen in front of his home in suburban Bethesda, Md. But they insisted that the Jewish community was not “frightened” by the possibility that the murder was committed by Arab terrorists.
Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz, president of the Washington Board of Rabbis, put responsibility for the murder on the Black September organization, The Israel Embassy said, however, that “As of now we have no facts on which to base a theory as to who were the perpetrators.” The FBI’s Baltimore office which is handling the investigation will not comment at this time.
(In New York today, Elmer L. Winter, president of the American Jewish Committee, extended condolences to Israel and the Alon family in a letter to the Israeli Ambassador in Washington, Simcha Dinitz. Winter wrote, “It seems particularly shocking to us that the Palestine terrorist groups, through the Voice of Palestine radio in Cairo, have associated themselves with this horrendous act.”)
The Embassy flag will fly at half mast until after Col. Alon’s funeral in Israel tomorrow. The Embassy has cancelled receptions and other diplomatic functions including a farewell reception set for tomorrow evening for Information Counsellor Zvi Brosch who is completing his tour of duty here
Rabbi Rabinowitz, who is spiritual leader of Congregation Adas Israel, a Conservative congregation attended by many members of the Israel Embassy staff and their families, noted that Col. Alon and his family had been part of the Jewish community here and participated in many of its affairs. “That the murderous hand of Black September has reached the Jewish community causes more anger than fright, more determination than fear,” he told the JTA
DIPLOMATIC COMMUNITY UPSET
Dr Isaac Franck, executive vice-president of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, said that “To say there is a reaction of fear in the Jewish community would be a complete misrepresentation.” He described the Jewish mood today as one of “sadness,” “bewilderment” and “moral indignation.”
An Embassy spokesman said the local Jewish community was no more appalled by the murder than the rest of the community He said the diplomatic community “obviously was very much upset” because the Alon killing “was believed to be the first murder of a diplomat in Washington in many years.”
Religious services were held at Andrews Air Force Base yesterday evening before the USAF jet bearing Col. Alon’s coffin and carrying his widow and three daughters took off for Israel. The plane was put at the disposal of the Israel Embassy by President Nixon. The services, at which Rabbi Rabinowitz and Cantor Gershon Levin of Shaare Tefila Synagogue in White Oaks, Md, officiated, were attended by the entire Embassy staff.
Accompanying the bereaved family on the flight to Israel were Maj. Yoram Adar, the assistant naval and air attache who was Col. Alon’s assistant and Lt. Col. Merrill A, McPeak, of the USAF, a close personal friend of Col, Alon