Jewish Leaders' Unpardonable Role

Zev Chafets - NY Daily News - February 15, 2001

In recent days, at least one Bill Clinton operative has been calling journalists with a message: The ex-President didn't really want to pardon Marc Rich. The Israelis or the Mossad or the Jews made him do it.

This is nonsense. Clinton pardoned Rich for his own benefit. But the effort of Rich's strategists to turn their client into a modern-day Alfred Dreyfus — with the active connivance of some of the world's most prominent Jewish personalities and institutions — is a scandal in its own right.

In last week's congressional probe into the Rich affair, Abraham Foxman's name came up. He was mentioned in internal memos of the Free Marc Rich team as a man who could be helpful.

"Who is he?" asked Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.).

"He's a senior official of some American Jewish organization," said Rich lawyer Jack Quinn. "I'm not sure which one."

Foxman is the national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, America's most prestigious Jewish group. He wrote an official ADL letter to Clinton, asking him to pardon Rich.

I called the ADL to ask why its director had intervened with the President of the United States on behalf of a master swindler and member in good standing of the FBI's most wanted list.

"Humanitarian reasons," a spokeswoman told me.

What possible humanitarian reason, I wondered, could there be to pardon a billionaire who lives in a Swiss castle and flies around the world in his own jet? And what did a crook like Rich have to do with the ADL?

The spokeswoman had no further comment.

Foxman's not alone. Led by a Tel Aviv-based former Mossad agent named Avner Azulay, the Rich team put together a Jewish who's who of supporters. They got their client character references from famous rabbis like Shlomo Riskin; from Rabbi Irving Greenberg, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council; from the chief rabbi of France; from the directors of a half-dozen Israeli hospitals, and from Marlene Post, former head of Hadassah.

Rich also received active support from former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres; Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg; Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami; ex-Ambassador to Washington Itamar Rabinovich; former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek; the current mayor, Ehud Olmert, and dozens of other Israeli politicians.

Worst of all, Prime Minister Ehud Barak called Clinton and asked him to pardon Rich.

According to ex-Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit, another letter writer, such enthusiastic endorsements were the product of gratitude.

Shavit claims Rich used his influence in the Middle East to attempt to recover Israeli MIAs and to assist "Jewish communities in distress."

This is unverifiable and meaningless.

Sure, Rich has traded favors with the Mossad. Like other freebooters (the late Armand Hammer comes to mind), he deals with everyone and plays all sides against the middle. If he didn't bring testimonials from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the Iranian ayatollahs, it's not because they aren't on speaking terms.

Because the notion of Rich as an Israeli patriot is so obviously laughable, Barak has let it be known through emissaries in the U.S. that he intervened with Clinton because of Rich's philanthropy.

This is a confession, not an explanation; it simply means that Rich bought influence.

There is another, even less charitable, possibility. Barak, like most of Rich's Israeli supporters, belongs to the Labor Party. Rich's ex-wife Denise famously gave Clinton and the Democrats more than $1 million. Barak's campaign finances from the 1999 election are now under criminal investigation.

It may not be too long before we find out the going price for an Israeli prime minister.

As for Foxman, Greenberg and the other so-called American Jewish leaders, they prostituted themselves and their organizations for a rich criminal.

They and the other "leaders" who stand by silently now are guilty of a terrible abuse of trust.

By participating in what appears to be an international conspiracy, they have given life to a classic anti-Semitic fantasy and earned themselves a place on the Anti-Defamation League's list of enemies of the Jewish people.

See Also:
  • The Clemency Page
  • Did Pollard Pay the Price for Rich?
  • We Should Be Ashamed of Ourselves
  • The Hypocrisy Of Joseph diGenova
  • Israel's Role in Pardon Sparks Capital Feuding
  • Friends in High Places: Marc Rich's Jewish Fans