Iran Asked for Assurances on Future Safety of Country’s Jews
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Iran Asked for Assurances on Future Safety of Country’s Jews

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Rabbi Joshua Haberman of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, the area’s largest Reform group, yesterday addressed a letter to the Charge d’Affaires of the Iranian Embassy, Ali Ager, asking for specific information arising from the execution in Teheran, May 9 of Habib Elkanian, the leader of Iran’s Jewish community.

The Haberman letter followed an oral protest to Ager by Haberman and a group from the Menorah organization led by Joseph Friedman and Moshe Brodetsky after their visit to the State Department. Haberman’s letter encompassed the elements of the Menorah’s views to Ager in their hour-long session with him at the Embassy.

These included: a full official statement of what happened at Elkanian’s trial shortly before he and six other Iranians were executed, including the factor of due process under Iranian law; permission for American legal experts to attend future trials involving Iranian Jews reassurances on “the highest level” that the execution of Elkanian does “not be token a wave of mass arrests” of Jews, their disenfranchisement, lasses of property and other acts of violence; and on official statement that Iranian Jews who wish to be reunited with family members abroad may do so without their remaining family members or fellow Jews who wish to remain in Iran to be harmed in any way.

Haberman said that petitions with hundreds of names were submitted to Ager and “that this is only the beginning. Many more are coming.” The petitions said that “the vague charges of ‘complicity with the Shah'” and “‘maintaining contact with Israel and Zionism’ suggest that his (Elkanian) only crime was that of being a Jew. The conscience of humanity and the law of God can only condemn such bloodshed.”

Haberman’s letter pointed out that forthright responses from the Iranian government to his four points would quickly rebuild confidence, respect in the Iranian government’s legitimacy and help create the friendly relations between the U.S. and Iran “that we so greatly desire.”


Meanwhile, in New York yesterday, several hundred members of District One of B’nai B’rith delivered a statement protesting the “political murder” of Elkanian to the Deputy Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations. Seymour Reich, president of the District, which includes New York and six New England States, pointed to the “violation of basic human rights” in Elkanian’s conviction and execution. By linking his conviction with Zionism and Israel, the Iranian government invoked “the specter of anti-Semitism,” Reich said.

He declared that this action was “nothing short of a dangerous assault upon the Jewish people and the linkage of fundamental and cherished Jewish beliefs to subversion is tantamount to an open appeal for unrestrained anti-Semitism.” The B’nai B’rith delegation also warned that “we shall not be silent in the face of judicial murder and virulent bigotry.”

In addition, members of the New York Metropolitan Conference of B’nai B’rith scheduled a protest demonstration this evening in front of the Iranian Mission to the UN.

In another development, Dr. David Hyatt, president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, sent a mailgram to President Carter in which he called Elkanian’s execution “a shocking charade of justice.” Hyatt declared: “Christians and Jews must fervently pray for the safety of the remaining Jews as well as other minority groups in Iran. The anti-Zionist outbursts of Ayatollah Khomeini and his so-called ‘revolutionary’ government are reminiscent of Hitler and the murderous executors of his Nazi regime.

“The fact that such a total miscarriage of justice can take place in Iran and that the persecution of Jews still continues not only in Iran but many other parts of the world proves once again why there must be an Israel — a refuge and a homeland for all Jewish people who are denied their freedom and their human rights in other parts of the world.”

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