Thursday, January 27, 2005

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni Series Part 6: Soviet activist or media whore?


At 7:16 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Still more articles with Gafni/Winiarz using the fake spelling of Winyarz.

December 27, 1987

The year 1987 brought us everything from the demise of the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker empire to the call God allegedly made on Oral Roberts' life to the visit of Pope John Paul II to South Florida.

Even in Palm Beach County, there has been much going on in the realm of religion -- and the promise of more to come.
Changes also occurred among the faces leading the congregations:

-- The newest rabbi at the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz, has made a lot of waves with his pronouncements of Boca Raton as ''an extremely materialistic and completely self-involved community,'' his release of a ''Jewish rap'' album, his objections to the papal visit and his arrest in Washington, D.C., for protesting within 500 feet of the Soviet Embassy.

December 18, 1987
By Carol Brzozowski, Staff Writer
Motorists expressed mixed reactions Tuesday evening when members of an Orthodox Jewish organization parked a van with a large menorah attached to a trailer, began to blast festive Jewish music from a loudspeaker, and distributed chocolate ''gold'' coins and toy dreidels to motorists whose windows were open as they waited to pay their toll.

That was the organization Chabad-Lubavitch's way of circumventing a state ruling against erecting religious symbols on public property.

Rabbis Joseph Biston and Yitzchok Baron of Coral Springs welcomed Hanukkah in such a fashion at sundown on Tuesday at the Glades toll booth on Florida's Turnpike. They were assisted by attorney Steve Marcus of the Boca Raton Synagogue, an Orthodox synagogue whose Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz recently was arrested for protesting within 500 feet of the Soviet embassy in Washington, D.C.

Here's what motorists had to say after they were approached:

''This is really nice. I think it's great that the Jewish people can express themselves,'' said motorist Darci Jacob, a Jew from Delray Beach. ''I give them all the credit I can.''

''Put up a cross!'' yelled one motorist to the Jews, who later identified herself as Roberta Davis of Boca Raton.

''They should also have a cross with Jesus Christ my savior held high. He originally was a Jew. I think what they're doing is all right, but it tears me apart not to see Jesus here.''

At least one motorist did not appreciate the display.

''What the hell is this?'' he asked Biston as the rabbi approached his car.

''It's Hanukkah.''

''I've never heard of it. You shouldn't be doing this.''

''We're celebrating freedom of religion, not freedom from religion,'' Biston said to reporters gathered at the scene Tuesday. ''Hanukkah just doesn't represent a Jewish idea.

''This is not a violation of church and state. The state didn't have to pay for it.''

December 10, 1987
By STEVE NICHOL, Staff Writer

A Boca Raton rabbi arrested for protesting too closely to the Soviet Union embassy in Washington, D.C., believes last weekend's massive rally insufficiently helped the 400,000 Jews who want to emigrate from that country.

Shouting and singing slogans including ''linkage'' and ''Moscow beatings and Washington greetings,'' Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz and 14 other Jews were arrested on Tuesday outside the Soviet Embassy.

''The message was to (Soviet leader Mikhail) Gorbachev and to the Jewish establishment, that there must be linkage between trade and human rights,'' Winyarz said.

''We rallied Sunday; Jews went home. Gorbachev is not giving one inch on human rights,'' he said, referring to the impact of the march-rally in Washington by 250,000 Jews from around the country.

''It was a very important moral statement,'' said Rabbi Avi Weiss of New York, national chairman for the Center for Russian Jewry/Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, who also was arrested with Winyarz.

''Just as in Washington there have been thousands arrested on the South Africa issue, insisting on linkage between trade and human rights, and that companies should divest, so too we were saying the same thing,'' Weiss said.

Winyarz was charged with demonstrating within 500 feet of the embassy, a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said.

Winyarz, rabbi at Boca Raton Synagogue, pleaded innocent and was freed without having to post bond. He said he is scheduled for a court appearance on Feb. 2.

Rabbi Bruce Warshal, director of the South County Jewish Federation in Boca Raton, would not comment on Winyarz's arrest, but characterized the rally Sunday as a ''booming success'' and ''splendid example of democracy in action.''

Said Warshal: ''I was proud I was there with Martin Luther King for the 'I Have A Dream' rally in 1963. We only had 100,000 people at the rally and we electrified the country. This puts into perspective the awesome impact that a quarter of a millon people had this past Sunday.''

Tuesday's Soviet-Jewry protesters gave police their names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers before their demonstration, a police officer said, so their arrests would run smoothly.

''We called the police the day before,'' Winyarz said.

At 11:30 a.m., ''We walked to the police lines, singing, wearing (prayer shawls), blowing shofar, and came within 500 feet of the embassy. We turned around, danced, blew shofar and then we sat down,'' he said.

''They took us person-by-person, handcuffed us, took our picture and loaded us on a bus. The fingerprinting they did on the station,'' Winyarz said about the police.

The rabbi was confident Soviet officials in the U.S. for the superpower summit, as well as Jews in the Soviet Union, would learn of the protest. He was released from jail after 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

''Jail is not fun. You get a sense of what is going on in the Soviet Union,'' he said. During the jail time, however, Winyarz said he gave a Bible class.

''We sang for a while; we danced for a while. The other people in the cell clapped. They were into it. It was the most fun they ever had,'' Winyarz said.

The arrest Tuesday was not the first time the 27-year-old rabbi has taken a different path from the so-called mainstream of Jewish establishment.

When Pope John Paul II came to Miami in September, and met with Jewish leaders, Winyarz and a small group protested because of his meetings with Austrian President Kurt Waldheim and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yassir Arafat.

Winyarz is the second Boca Raton rabbi to be arrested recently on the Soviet- Jewry issue. Rabbi Ted Feldman was arrested outside the Soviet Embassy on the same charge about 2 1/2 years ago.

(The Associated Press)Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz, center with glasses, walks during protest in Washington on Monday. On Tuesday, he was arrested in a demonstration. PHOTO (1)

December 10, 1987
By WILLIAM E. GIBSON, Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- Jewish human rights activists plan to step up a campaign for new economic sanctions against the Soviet Union today, ranging from a call for limits on American bank loans to boycotts of hockey games.

A coalition of activists has scheduled a curb-side news conference within two blocks of the Soviet embassy to promote legislation that would allow the president to block loans to the Soviets from American banks.

And at least one faction of activists says it will use the occasion to urge Americans to boycott companies and organizations, such as Pepsico Inc. and the National Hockey League, that do business with the Soviet Union.

It is part of an emerging strategy to link trade and commerce to progress on human rights. These groups hope to give the Soviet Union economic incentive to end abuses and allow a freer flow of Jewish emigration.

Though not endorsing all of these tactics, a wide range of Jewish and human- rights groups have begun turning toward economic pressure strategies as a way to gain more than token cooperation from the Soviet Union.

''That's the sort of muscle we feel America has to exert,'' Glenn Richter, national coordinator of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, said on Wednesday. ''If you want free trade, you have to have free people.

''One way is disinvestment -- asking all people of good will to withdraw their support from some companies that do business with the Soviet Union until a proper human rights policy is put in place.''

Richter said his advocacy group of 5,000 members plans to ask Americans to withdraw money from banks and quit doing business with companies that do business with the Soviets. That list includes such high-profile companies as Pepsico, he said, and organizations such as the National Hockey League, which arranges games with Soviet teams.

The Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, a group with 100,000 members, has yet to endorse a consumer boycott and will focus instead on restricting commercial bank loans that the Soviet Union might use for unstated purposes.

Rep. Toby Roth, R-Texas, and a spokesman for Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y., plan to attend the press conference to promote their proposed legislation giving the president power to block such bank loans. The bill is designed to strengthen the Jackson-Vanek Amendment, a law passed in 1974 restricting government loans to the Soviet Union and denying them the lower duty fees of most-favored- nation status.

Pepsico officials and visiting Soviets strongly opposed the linkage
strategy on Wednesday.

Soviet spokesman Gennadi Gerasimov told reporters, ''We are against
linkage. And I remember in the '70s, when we had these ideas to expand trade, it was killed.''

Jim Griffith, spokesman for Pepsico, said on Wednesday that trade promotes better relations between the two nations.

''The best solution to the problem is one of increasing understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of the Soviet Union, and you don't do that building barriers,'' Griffith said, ''you do that by increasing communication in all forms, including trade.''

The human rights groups insist that the Soviet Union will respond to appeals for Jewish emigration only when motivated by self-interest.

''Every time there's been progress on human rights, there's been clear linkage to trade,'' said Rabbi Mordecai Winyarz of the Synagogue of Boca Raton.

Washington Correspondent Ken Cummins contributed to this report.

December 9, 1987
By KEN CUMMINS, Washington Bureau Senior Correspondent Mark J.
Prendergast contributed to this report.

WASHINGTON -- William Shakespeare's line of nearly 400 years ago that ''All the world's a stage'' aptly describes what has happened to downtown Washington during the summit.

The streets, parks and sidewalks in front of the White House and near the Soviet Embassy four blocks away have been transformed into a national stage where demonstrators push their causes in hopes that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, President Reagan and all the world, via the media, will see and hear.

''This is the place where opinions and grievances should be aired,'' said anti-nuclear activist Robert Dorrough, standing across the street from the White house.

Jews, Ukrainians, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Crimean Tartars, Afghans, Ethiopians and Cubans are trying to dramatize the plight of their people under Soviet rule and the rule of Soviet-backed governments.

About 200 feet from the front door of the White House on Tuesday, Buddhists in Lafayette Park chanted and prayed for disarmament.

Street preachers standing only a few feet apart and using bullhorns tried to outshout each other in a debate over whether Jesus, if he were in the flesh today, would be for or against the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty signed by Reagan and Gorbachev on Tuesday.

Conservatives on Monday wheeled a black, 13-foot-high Trojan horse made of wood across the ''stage'' as a symbol of their fears about the INF treaty.

Miami gay activist Bob Kunst, director of Cure AIDS Now, has staked out a spot on the stage to promote a massive government project, patterned after the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb, to find a cure for the deadly AIDS disease.

An occasional sign urging ''Give Mr. Gorbachev a Chance'' could be spotted here and there.

''Everybody's here. It's great,'' said Baltimore Presbyterian minister G. Jarvis McMillan, standing in Lafayette Park under an umbrella full of holes and holding a bird cage with a white dove inside. The umbrella, McMillan said, symbolized that Reagan's
''Star Wars'' defense initiative ''won't work.''

A few yards away, demonstrators protesting Soviet policies in Afghanistan suddenly turned on each other while Reagan and Gorbachev talked peace inside the White House across the street.

Members of the group of about a dozen Afghans began pummeling one another when one faction tried to raise the flag of a former Afghan monarch. Several men, some wearing native costume, attacked the flag wavers with fists and feet, bloodying one man's face and shattering his eyeglasses.

Police on foot and on horseback raced into the melee and arrested one of the attackers.

An associate, who gave his name as Abdul from New York, said he and the arrested man were members of the mujahadeen guerrillas fighting Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He said that while both Afghan factions were opposed to Soviet occupation of their homeland, they would not tolerate the raising of the flag of the deposed monarchy.

Just a few blocks away, police were busy handcuffing and arresting 14 rabbis, including Rabbi Mordecai Winyarz of the Synagogue of Boca Raton, and a former Soviet refusenik for crossing a police barricade in a futile effort to demonstrate in front of the Soviet Embassy.

But, unlike the unexpected disturbance in Lafayette Park, the demonstration against trade with the Soviet Union until all Soviet Jews are allowed to emigrate was staged according to a pre-arranged scenario worked out with the police.

''We've already got their names, dates of birth and Social Security
numbers. All we have to do is photograph them and put them in the bus,'' said a Washington D.C. police officer involved in the arrests.

The group arrested was protesting a meeting between Gorbachev and American business leaders scheduled for Thursday.

Those arrested were expected to be released by the end of the day.

The fuss and furor over Gorbachev's summit visit is being taken in stride by the city's year-round residents.

December 6, 1987
By STEVE NICHOL, Staff Writer

The superpower summit this week has made a side issue the main issue for many South Florida residents, if rallies in the nation's capital are a benchmark.

Today, an estimated 1,000 residents of Palm Beach, Broward and Dade
counties will join 100,000 people expected to march in Washington on behalf of about 400,000 Jews unable to leave the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, peace activists who pushed for years for nuclear disarmament will be content to hold small events locally and follow from home progress on the missile agreement that is expected to be signed.

''When it seems like things are going right, you tend to coast a little bit, and that may be what is happening,'' said Roger Messenger, a Florida Atlantic University department chairman and veteran peace activist.

''People have been working to encourage (the summit) and are pleased that this is a good first step'' toward disarmament, said Messenger, the chairman of electrical and computer engineering at the Boca Raton-based state university.

But for a large number of South Florida residents, Jews and non-Jews, the fate of Soviet Jewry has made the meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev a chance to speak out on religious freedom and human rights.

''Gorbachev doesn't realize we are serious unless everybody goes,'' said Randi Streisand, a 16-year-old Fort Lauderdale area resident who was scheduled to fly with her parents today to the rally.

''I went to Israel for two months (high school) and it made me realize you have to fight for what you want,'' said Streisand, a Nova High School senior.

''We just want to show solidarity,'' said Carol Frieser, a veteran Soviet Jewry activist from Broward County who will take her two children to the rally.

''We want to be there for the people who want to get out,'' Frieser said.

Malka Kornblatt, Hebrew school director for Congregation B'nai Israel in Boca Raton, will escort four students to the rally and said airplane space prevented her from bringing more.

''It was the first four that said 'yes,' '' Kornblatt said, referring to eighth-grade students Alexa Goldman and Eric Hirshik and ninth-graders Jodi Janus and Joanna Polin.

''Our school is called the School for Living Judaism. It has a significant purpose to make Jewish values live. Two of those values are justice and freedom,'' Kornblatt said.

For wife, mother and community volunteer Barbara Kaplan of North Palm Beach, involvement in Soviet Jewry, to the point of rallying, ''kind of seeped into me.''

A member of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Kaplan said the ''more you learn about Soviet Jews, and the more you meet with people who met with them, the more connected and linked you feel.''

Joining the rally is Palm Beach County Public Defender Richard Jorandby, a non-Jew who traveled to the Soviet Union two years ago and met Jews who had applied for visas and lost their jobs or had been sent to labor camps.

''It is really moving when you are right there. It is one thing to read about it and sit in your comfortable surroundings in America. It's another to talk to them and hear them say they just got out of camps,'' Jorandby said.

''It is the premier human rights issue. The issue just really gets me steamed up,'' he said.

Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz of Boca Raton Synagogue also plans to be in
Washington for the rally, but will stay on, when most will go home, with a group he calls Coalition of Concern.

''We will be there Sunday. We will go Monday and Tuesday to block the streets, to have civil disobedience. We're going to follow Reagan and Gorbachev wherever they go,'' Winyarz said.

''We want a benchmark on how many Jews are allowed to leave. We want 50,000 a year,'' a figure he said equals the emigration flow from the Soviet Union in 1979 that has been unmatched since.

South Floridians concerned with the peace movement will not sit idly by in the days before, during and after Gorbachev and Reagan meet to sign a treaty to ban intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

The South Florida chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility will hold an ''observance'' this evening in Dade County.

On Monday, peace activist and Palm Beach Junior College professor Richard Yinger will lecture on the Lake Worth campus about nuclear arms buildup and what people can do if they are concerned.

Yinger, a social science professor, said the summit pact ''in terms of importance, is the single most important achievement of the nuclear age.''

On Saturday, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom West Palm Beach chapter will go to the Lake Worth beach from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to hand out literature and seek signatures of support for the treaty.

''The treaty is going to be signed. As far as getting through the Senate (for ratification) it may have more difficulty,'' said George Meyer, who helps direct an umbrella organization for Broward and Palm Beach peace groups.

''But with the prestige and political influence Ronald Reagan still has, it will go through. Anyone who objects, doesn't know what the treaty is about,'' said Meyer, of Fort Lauderdale.

''The Russians are going to give up four times as many nuclear missiles as the United States will,'' said Meyer, co-chair of Bi-County Alliance for Nuclear Disarmament.


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