TEL AVIV (Jul. 14)
An American Jewish leader said here Monday that one of the most pressing issues of concern at present is the state of U.S.-Israel relations in light of the Jonathan Pollard spy case and the more recent allegations that Israel tried to obtain cluster bomb technology illegally from the U.S.
But according to Theodore Mann, president of the American Jewish Congress, U.S.-Israel relations, which are excellent, have been largely unaffected by those events, though there may be some fall-out from the Pollard affair. The danger lies, he said, in misperceptions by the American public.
Mann arrived here at the head of an AJC delegation to participate in the organization’s 22nd annual three-day America-Israel Dialogue. Interviewed by Voice of Israel Radio, he said, with reference to the Pollard case:
“Within the American government there is a feeling that if (Israeli) political authorities here knew nothing — and they know they knew nothing regarding the Pollard operation — then the question is, is there sufficient accountability of the Israel secret services to the political echelon.”
CITES U.S. CONCERN
“There is concern about that,” Mann added, “and I think there is a concern about the appointment of Eitan to an important industrial position, and there is a belief in the American public and media — which is false — that Col. Sella was promoted to general.”
He was referring to Raphael Eitan, a former senior Mossad operative who allegedly recruited Pollard, a U.S. Navy civilian data analyst to spy for Israel, and Air Force Col. Aviem Sella, Commander of the Rimon Air Force Base in the Negev, whom the U.S. Justice Department has named as a co-conspirator in the espionage operation which oversaw Pollard’s activities.
Mann said this misperception is “very unfortunate. We know it is false but the American public is left with the impression that it is true.”
Mann said another matter of concern to the AJC is the rise of religious fundamentalism in both the U.S. and Israel. The theme of this year’s Dialogue will be extremism in Israel and the U.S.
Mann said in that connection the proposal by the Orthodox-controlled Interior Ministry to stamp the word ” converted ” next to the designation “Jewish” on the identity cards of converts to Judaism in Israel was “gross, intolerable and divisive.”
IMPRESSED BY TURKISH JEWISH COMMUNITY
The AJC delegation spent a week in Turkey on their way to Israel at the invitation of the Turkish Chief Rabbi and the local Jewish community. Mann said he was favorably impressed by the condition of Turkey’s 24,000-strong Jewish community which lives in peace and security.
He said the Turkish government was aware of their visit and viewed it favorably. They hope to secure AJC support to strengthen U.S. -Turkish relations, Mann said. The Turkish government has undertaken to organize a celebration for the Turkish Jewish community’s 500th anniversary in 1992 and plans to upgrade its diplomatic relations with Israel, Mann said. He claimed there has been great improvement in the human rights situation in Turkey.