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June 17, 1983 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-06-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, June 11, 1%3

Should Israel Accept Nazis for Trial?

By VICTOR BIENSTOCK

Thanks to the U.S. De-
partment of Justice, the Is-
raelis now have a new moral
and political problem to
wrestle with. Should the
Jewish state become the in-
strument for retribution
against war criminals who
have committed crimes
against the Jewish people
and have escaped punish-
ment?
The problem -has arisen
because the U.S., after hav-
ing given refuge and citi-
zenship to Nazi war crimi-
nals is, 40 years later, re-
canting, stripping them of
the citizenship they lied to
obtain and seeks their de-
_ portation. They cannot be
tried in American courts be-
cause their crimes were not
committed in an American
jurisdiction, nor can they, in
many cases, be deported to
their land of origin or the
country where their crimes
were committed because
those countries refuse to ac-
cept them.
The federal courts actu-
ally blocked the extradition
of one notorious war crimi-
nal, Andrija Artukovic,
interior minister in the
Croatian puppet regime
during World War II, on the
grounds that he might be
subject to "political persecu-
tion" if he were returned to
Yugoslavia. Since that deci-
sion in 1959, Artukovic has
lived here as a free man.
About 25 war criminals
have • already been de-
naturalized or are cur-
rently subject to de-
naturalization proceed-
ings and the number may
reach 200 or more. On
denaturalization, all
would be subject to de-
portation.
The Justice Department's
immediate hot potato is
Valerian (Viorel) Trifa, a
onetime leader of the
Romanian Fascist Iron
Guard, who led a pogrom of
exceptional savagely in
Bucharest in 1941 in which
hundreds of Jews were
slaughtered — some of them
in a Bucharest slaughter
house where their bodies
were hung on meathooks.
Postwar Communist re-
gimes in Bucharest used
Trifa's presence in the U.S.
for propaganda attacks, but
the present regime, appar-
ently fearful of the backlash
of a Trifa trial in Bucharest,
has refused to accept him.

The Department of Jus-
tice would like Israel to
agree to accept Trifa and
take him off its hands.
Under existing Israeli law
-- the statute under which
Adolf Eichmann was tried
20 years ago — Israel could
put Trifa on trial for crimes
committed in Romania 40
years ago, years before the
state of Israel even existed.
There is a strong senti-
ment in Israel that the
Jewish state would be fulfil-
ling an important function
if it used the law to punish
those who perpetrated
heinous crimes against the
Jewish people.
But there is concern
whether sufficiently

VICTOR BIENSTOCK

strong evidence can be
introduced 40 years after
the crimes, to ensure
convictions that would
withstand the critical
appraisal that a trial in
Israel would induce. The
Israelis don't want pog-
romists to be
whitewashed by an Is-
raeli failure to convict,
free to walk the streets of
Jerusalem or go to a
nearby Arab state of
conduct anti-Jewish ac-
tivities.
A deputy assistant U.S.
attorney general went to Is-
rael last month to discuss
the situation with his Is-
raeli counterparts. There
was no discussion because of
one of those stupid and
ridiculous things that so
often roil American-Israeli
relations: Israel Attorney
General Yitzhak Zamir in-
sisted that the talks be held
in his office in East
Jerusalem. U.S. Deputy
Asgistant Attorney General
Mark Richards insisted that
since the U.S. did not recog-
nize the Israeli annexation
of East Jerusalem, he could
not go there. The two men
met in Jewish Jerusalem for
a non-business lunch and
after five days Richards re-
turned home, mission unac-
complished.
But the question re-
mained and the debate
flourished over the issue
whether Israel morally and
politically should assume
the role of avenger. In the
Knesset, Justice Minister
Moshe Nissim argued that
there was 'an historical ob-
ligation" to bring Nazi crim-
inals to justice and that "it
is preferable that this be
done here."
A ministry spokesman
subsequently qualified the
minister's statement by not-
ing that there had to be cer-
tainty that the evidence was
strong enough for convic-
tion lest a war criminal "get
off scot-free with an Israeli
court's sanction simply be-
cause we lacked definitive

Poll on Economy

TEL AVIV (JNI) — A poll
in the newspaper Haaretz
shows that 45 percent of Is-
raelis are willing to lower
their standard of living to
improve the nation's floun-
dering economy.
Nineteen percent said
they would refuse to lower
their living standards, and
80 percent said the govern-
ment should do more to
promote exports.

evidence for conviction."
There has been sharp
criticism of this cautious
approach. Moshe Ben-
Zeev, a former 'state pro-
secutor, declared that "to
refuse to accept them (the
war criminals) for trial in
Israel would be to ignore
our nation's great moral
responsibility. The prin-
ciple of bringing Nazis to
justice must be sac-
rosanct even if, eventu-
ally, for want of evidence,
they might have to be
freed."
American constitutional
authorities differ sharply on
the legality of deporting de-
naturalized persons to a
country other than their
land of origin or the locale of
their war crimes. General
Telford Taylor, chief
American prosecutor at the
Nuremberg trials and now a
professor of constitutional
law, says such deportation
would be "neither wise nor
valid" as a matter of inter-
national law. He is sup-
ported in this position by

American law or interna-
tional practice if it should
expel Trifa to Israel and
Israel should be willing
to accept.
But Telford Taylor raised
a point which, in the long
run, might be the dominat-
ing consideration for Is-
raelis rather than the ques-
tion of legality.
"Israel is the country that
is least able to provide an
appearance of impartial-
ity," he argues. A Trifa trial
would not be the world
media sensation that the
Adolf Eichmann trial was
but it would focus pitiless
critical attention on the Is-
raeli courtroom and it

VALERIAN TRIFA

Charles Gordon, an out-
standing authoritiy on im-
migration law.
Gordon sees "a very seri-
ous question" as to the con-
stitutionality of deporting a
person to a country of which
he was not a citizen and
where he would be subject to
prosecution without having
gone through the extradi-
tion process.
But Allan A. Ryan, head
of the Justice Department
unit investigating Nazi war
criminals here, insists that
the immigration laws give
the attorney general "al-
most plenary powers" over
aliens and that there is no
consitutional obstacle to
deportation of Trifa and
other war criminals to Is-
rael if Israel. will accept
them.
Experts in interna-
tional law, such as Prof.
Milton A. Katz of Har-
vard, support Ryan's
position. The U.S, said
Katz, would not be violat-
ing international or

would be quick to assail any
apparent deviation from
absolute impartiality.
The Israelis obviously are
well aware of the dangers

their acceptance of Trifa
might involve. They are
also aware of the deterrent
effect that an example of re-
tribution would provide.

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