On Monday, June 14, '99  Moshe Ronen, the national president of the Canadian
Jewish Congress, had a letter published in the Toronto Globe and Mail. The
letter is copied below and will, I expect, seem a lot like similar letters
sent by Ronen and other leaders of organized Jewry to media over the years
airing grievances and concerns.

Imagine the surprise when the day following a co-religionist of the CJC
president's is quoted in the Globe's letters page denouncing Mr. Ronen's
as-per-usual cries of alarm and indignation as both "'fightening'" and
"unconscionable." Jacob Schiff's letter (also copied below) is, in effect,
a stern rebuke to what he perceives as Mr. Ronen's intolerable Jewish

In fact, he even suggests an equivalence between Mr. Ronen and the Iranians
whom he took aim at in his June 14 letter.



The world is watching | Moshe Ronen

Letters | Toronto Globe and Mail | June 14, 1999

Toronto -- Re Alleged Spies Face Death In Iran -- June 12:

Iran's Jewish community is one of the oldest in the world. The Iranian
Revolution of 1979 respected this status, allowing Jews to continue
practicing their religion and living in relative harmony with their fellow

How a country treats its Jewish community is an important indicator of the
degree to which it is prepared to operate civilly and humanely. Thus, the
decision by Iran to indict 13 Jewish citizens (including rabbis, teachers
and students), under arrest since Passover, on trumped-up charges of spying
for Israel and the United States -- conviction for which carries the death
penalty -- is a frightening development.

We appeal to President Mohammed Khatami and his government to effect the
immediate release of the imprisoned Jews.

Moshe Ronen, national president, Canadian Jewish Congress


Human first |  Jacob Schiff

Letters | Toronto Globe and Mail | June 15, 1999

Toronto -- Re The World Is Watching (letter -- June 14):

As a human being first and a Jew second, I take exception to Moshe Ronen's
comment that "how a country treats its Jewish community is an important
indicator of the degree to which it is prepared to operate civilly and

For Mr. Ronen, it appears that the Iranian case is noteworthy because the
accused are Jewish. I agree that indicting citizens on "trumped-up charges
. . . is a frightening development." But it frightens me not because the
accused are Jewish, but because they are humans. It is their inherent
humanity that causes me to recoil at the treatment they are receiving, as
human beings and not as Jews.

Mr. Ronen seems to be implying that the treatment of a state's Jews as Jews
is somehow of greater significance then the treatment of its Jews as
citizens, of the Iranian state and of humanity. While I understand that Mr.
Ronen may be under considerable pressure to make statements such as the one
I have quoted above, his failure to acknowledge the larger picture of
universal human rights is just as "frightening" and unconscionable as the
apparent denial of such human rights by Iran in this case.