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Samuel Hadas, leading Israeli diplomat, dies at 72

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

JERUSALEM (WJC) — Samuel (Shmuel) Hadas, Israel’s first ambassador to the Holy See in Rome, has died in Jerusalem at the age of 72. In a statement, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder called Hadas “a pioneer of Jewish-Catholic relations who was not only instrumental in establishing relations between Israel and the Vatican during the 1990s, but who also showed tremendous dedication to filling this relationship with life and to establishing mutual trust and cooperation.” Hadas also served as the first Israeli ambassador to Spain, following the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1986.

Born in Argentina, he grew up in Israel and later entered the diplomatic service of the Jewish state, with postings in Mexico, Colombia and Bolivia. His posting as ambassador to the Holy See in Rome in 1993 marked the beginning of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel. In recent years, he was chairman of the Israel Jewish Council for Inter-Religious Relations.

Ronald Lauder added: “Apart from being one of Israel’s finest diplomats, Shmuel Hadas was also an active participant in many endeavors of the World Jewish Congress, in particular in Jewish-Christian dialogue, and he educated many of our young leaders in the important art of diplomacy and inter-faith relations. He will be greatly missed, both in Israel and the Diaspora.”

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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Iranian terror cells reportedly infiltrating Latin America

December 3, 2009 Leave a comment

BUENOS AIRES (wjc)–Alberto Nisman, the Argentinean prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires warned of Iran’s growing terror network in Latin America. “The Iranians are moving fast. We see a much greater penetration than we did in 1994,” Nisman told a conference of the American Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

He said that Iran, particularly through Hezbollah, now had a growing presence in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, using techniques it honed in Argentina before the country took steps against Iran.

Nisman spoke of sham operations involving taxi drivers, who conducted surveillance without arousing suspicion, fake medical school students who could stay in the country for many years without raising eyebrows, and business fronts that helped funnel cash to operatives.

Iranians cultivated ties at the local mosques to search for people who could be radicalized. Today, he said, Argentina was considered a “hostile environment” for Iran, but the Iranian terrorist groups were finding fertile ground in other Latin American countries. “The stronger element that happens today is the complicity of the government,” he said, pointing to the networks Iran develops through its embassies. “We know that [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chávez allows Hezbollah to come in.”

Nisman said there were “too many countries in Europe that continue to turn a blind eye … like with the Nazis.” He called on these countries to refuse to welcome Iranian leaders to international forums like the United Nations until they adhere to the Interpol-backed warrants and hand over the men wanted by Argentina in connection with the AMIA bombing. “Iran will not long be able to resist,” he contended. “It cannot fight against the entire world.”

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Ahmadinejad visit to Brazil stirs protests

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment

RIO DE JANEIRO (WJC)–Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due in Brazil this week for what will be the first state visit by an Iranian head of state. The trip has already generated protests in which thousands of demonstrators, many of them Jews, took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Protests in May this year had forced Ahmadinejad to cancel his scheduled visit.

On Sunday, about 800 Brazilians took part in a rally in Rio de Janeiro which was co-organized by Jewish groups. The controversial Iranian leader, who is also visiting Venezuela and Bolivia, said on Sunday before boarding his plane that he hoped to help spearhead a new global order in cooperation with Latin America and Africa.

F”These countries are important and each has a determining role in their region or continent. “New orders should be established in the world. Iran, Brazil and Venezuela in particular can have determining roles in designing and establishing these new orders,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

Ahmadinejad and Brazilian President Lula da Silva are expected to sign cooperation agreements in the fields of biotechnology, energy and agriculture. An Iranian deputy foreign minister told a Brazilian news agency last month that Tehran hoped to expand trade with Brazil to US$ 15 billion (from US$ 2 billion currently) in these fields. About 200 Iranian businessmen are traveling with Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to address the Brazilian Congress and speak to students in Brasilia.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who visited Brazil last week and met Jewish leaders and government officials, criticized the reception for the Iranian president: “Brazil can’t have it both ways. It can’t be a world player and expect to receive Ahmadinejad and have nobody notice. Everyone will notice and none of [the reactions] will be positive,” he told the ‘Financial Times’.

During his first visit to South America’s largest city, Lauder was welcomed Thursday and Friday by Latin American Jewish Congress president Jack Terpins and Claudio Lottenberg, the new president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s umbrella Jewish organization.

Venezuela’s ambassador to Tehran, David Velasquez Caraballo, announced earlier this month that new uranium deposits had been discovered in Venezuela and that his country and Iran “are now cooperating on a research and development project. At this juncture, Iran and Venezuela have no nuclear cooperation. But in the future, such cooperation might be established,” he said.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress