Head of Greek Jewish Community Urges Boycott of Greek Minister
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Head of Greek Jewish Community Urges Boycott of Greek Minister

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The president of the Greek Jewish community has called for world ostracism of the Greek justice minister because of his decision to refuse Italy’s request to extradite a Palestinian.

The Palestinian, Abdel Osama al-Zomar, is believed responsible for the October 1982 machine gun and grenade attack on Rome’s main synagogue, which left a 3-year-old Jewish boy dead and 35 worshipers wounded.

Joseph Lovinger, on a visit to New York, urged the World Jewish Congress to support his decision on Greek Justice Minister Vassilis Rotis.

“So long as Rotis is still justice minister, he should be boycotted,” Lovinger said.

The WJC resolved to strongly inform the government of Greece that the move to release Zomar to Libya last month was a grave mistake that will have serious consequences in relations with both Jews and the international community.

On Dec. 5, Rotis said that Zomar, 27, would not be handed over to the Italian authorities for trial, overturning an Oct. 1984 Greek Supreme Court ruling that Zomar be extradited.

Rotis explained that Zomar, who was released from prison after serving 20 months of a two-year sentence, had acted as a “freedom-fighter.” Zomar is believed to have flown to Libya following his release.

Lovinger, who is also vice president of the European Jewish Congress, presented to the WJC-American Section a letter he wrote a Greek newspaper decrying Rotis’ decision as “a huge moral crime.”


Lovinger said that Zomar, “who killed a 3-year-old boy, is not a patriot. He is a gangster.”

Elan Steinberg, WJC executive director, said the group’s American Section would “authorize the WJCongress to initiate contacts with Greek authorities to seek proper redress.”

Further plans include:

Contacts with the U.S. Congress with a view toward cutting the aid level to Greece.

Initiating a tourist boycott and advisory about travels to Greece, via all channels.

Treating Rotis as a pariah in the international community.

Initiating action to ensure that a similar situation does not develop with Mohammed Rashid.

Rashid is a Palestinian being held in a Greek prison while the Greek Supreme Court reviews a lower court’s decision to allow the United States to extradite Rashid.

The United States accuses the 39-year-old Rashid of planting a bomb on a Pan Am 747 flight from Tokyo to Honolulu in 1982. It killed a Japanese teen-ager and wounded 15 others aboard.

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