In a surprising move, a leader of Brooklyn's large, generally hawkish Syrian Jewish community has lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for refusing to talk with Syria, as pressure built on multiple fronts on Washington and Jerusalem to dialogue with Damascus.
Jack Avital, a longtime confidante of Ariel Sharon and chairman of the Sephardic National Alliance, told The Jewish Week last week he planned to publish an open letter to Olmert laying out his case against Israel's rejection of such talks to the Syrian Jewish community.
"Maybe we should remind you, he chides Olmert in the letter, that if any Arab leader is sending signs of peace, maybe the slightest ones, you should respond. You should immediately check his sincerity and seriousness. You do not have the moral permission to avoid him. You must do it for the sake of those you may demand to sacrifice their lives in case war commences."
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Note : as this article shows, Jack Avital is known as something of a maverick. He led a 12-man delegation on a visit to Syria in 2004. The Zionist Organisation of America condemned the visit, which included a meeting with President Bashir Assad: " It is wrong for American Jews or any Americans to help sanitize the Syrian regime by visiting Syria", said ZOA president Morton Klein.