NEW YORK (Jan. 8)
Jewish and Christian leaders called today on the leaders of the free world and the United States government to intensify their efforts on behalf of kidnapped Lebanese Jews who are held by Islamic fundamentalist extremists in Lebanon.
The call was made during a special memorial service, held at Congregation Kehilat Jeshurun, for two Lebanese Jews who were killed by their kidnappers last month. The victims were Haim Cohen Halala, 38, and Prof. Isaac Tarrah, 53, both members of the tiny Jewish community of Beirut.
Rep. William Green (R. NY) charged that the two were murdered “for one reason: they were Jews.” He called for a public protest against the killings and increased efforts to save the lives of other Jewish hostages in Lebanon.
The Rev. Joseph O’Hare, president of Fordham University, said that he came to the memorial service to express sympathy with the victims’ families and to express outrage at the brutal killings of innocent people because of their religion.
The memorial service, which was attended by more than 120 people, was cosponsored by the New York Board of Rabbis, the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.
Rabbi Haskell Lookstein, president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said that the “silence” and indifference to the fate of Lebanon’s Jews must be broken.
Peggy Tishman, president of the JCRC of New York, declared: “We will not stand idly by while in Lebanon Jews are abducted and murdered for no reason other than their Jewish heritage.” She added:
“The fate of five Lebanese Jews — Isaac Sasson, Dr. Elie Hallak, Salim Jammous, Elie Srour and Yehuda Benesti, along with our American brothers and other foreign captives, hangs in the balance. Our plea to all people of compassion and influence is to intercede on behalf of these innocents and save their lives.”
Howard Friedman, president of the AJC, stated: “It is now time for civilized people and nations to treat terrorists and the nations which provide them with succor as outlaws and beyond civilized norms.” He continued: “We would be remiss in our memorial to them (the victims) if we did not express our profound conviction that the time has come to require more than rhetorical flourishes when terrorism is addressed.”