German Jewish leaders turn down US briefing on Iran danger

"We are deeply worried about the continued antisemitic belligerence and genocidal threats emanating from Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei."

US President Donald Trump and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the NATO summit in Watford, Britain, December 4, 2019. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
US President Donald Trump and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the NATO summit in Watford, Britain, December 4, 2019.
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany ignored a proposed briefing from a top US government official about the dangers of the Iranian regime and American efforts to impose snapback sanctions on Tehran to stop the Islamic Republic from purchasing conventional weapons and building a nuclear military device.
The Jerusalem Post obtained a letter outlining a suggested briefing sent to Dr. Josef Schuster, the president of the nearly 100,000-member Jewish community, and other European Jewish community leaders.
The letter by Rabbi Abraham Cooper states a top US official could “be available to privately brief you on the situation and the timeline for these sanctions to hopefully go into effect. Key to this matter will be decisions of the UK, France, and Germany.”
Cooper, the associate dean of the human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center located in Los Angeles, who recently wrote an opinion article on snapback sanctions in Newsweek, contacted a number of European Jewish leaders suggesting a briefing from a senior US official.
“Like each of you and my colleagues, we are deeply worried about the continued antisemitic belligerence and genocidal threats emanating from Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei and his associates against Israel and Jewish people everywhere,” wrote Cooper. “Now, we face the possibility of an Iran that may soon be able to acquire advanced military hardware and systems. To date, only the US has invoked the request to snap back sanctions against Iran because of its flagrant violations of the nuclear agreement.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration opposes a snapback of sanctions against Iran’s regime. In August, Merkel’s government did not vote to extend the UN weapons embargo against Tehran.
Cooper told the Post that the briefing from the US official “is exactly the kind of information that key European Jewish leaders would want to have in hand on an issue that will impact Jews in Europe and elsewhere in the future. It was disappointing.”
Post queries to Schuster and Gideon Joffe, the president of the Berlin local Jewish community, were not immediately returned. Both Schuster and Joffe were born in Israel. Israeli diplomats have expressed frustration to the Post over the years about apathy among some German Jewish leaders.
The Post has sent multiple queries to Schuster in August asking if Merkel should support the UN weapons embargo against Iran. He declined to answer.
Critics of the Central Council claim that because the organization is largely dependent on funding from the federal government, Schuster is reluctant to criticize Merkel’s policies that ostensibly favor Iran.
Dr. Nathan Warszawski, who knew Schuster from medical school, told the Post that “His organizations receive some money from the state to keep him silent.” Warszawski is a member of the Jewish community in the city of Aachen and writes extensively about antisemitism in Germany.
One community leader responded to the US briefing invitation. Michaela Fuhrmann, head of political affairs and communications for the Frankfurt Jewish community, wrote that “on behalf of Prof. Salomon Korn, I would like to thank you very much for your email and your kind offer. Since we are just in the middle of our board elections and the preparations for the holidays according to the pandemic situation, Prof. Korn unfortunately will not be able to attend a common briefing.”
Korn is the president of the Frankfurt community. He and Fuhrmann did not respond to Post queries about why a deputy could not have participated in the briefing and whether Merkel should support the US snapback sanctions against Iran.
Uwe Becker, commissioner to combat antisemitism in the German state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is located, previously told the Post that German government should agree to extend the UN weapons embargo against Iran.


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