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July 17, 1987 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-17

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

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less after undergoing denat-
uralization proceedings and
he was wrapped up in a nice,
neat package ready to be
deported to the Soviet Union.
She asked me to look at the
case.
"Pressure was then put on
Israel to seek John's
extradition, and in November
1983, it succumbed to the
pressure and requested
extradition."
According to O'Connor, his
law practice in the United
States has been "on hold"
since the trial started in
February.
In addition, he says, he has
lost a tremendous amount of
business and has personally
absorbed a large chunk of the
costs involved in the
Demjanjuk trial.
"I have grown very close to
John; my family is very close
to his family," he told me at
our recent interview.
Mark O'Connor is a house-
hold word in Israel, a familiar
face on television, a well-
known voice on radio.
He is a star of sorts, and he
does not hide his pleasure at
being called up by high
school kids wanting to
discuss the trial or being
recognized as he strolls
through town.
Are you not, I ask as
politely as possible, being
carried on the crest of the
greatest ego trip of your life?
Mark O'Connor, who has
championed the cause of
American Indians, Vietnam
veterans — "helping the
helpless, giving voice to the
voiceless" — is only
momentarily put off balance.
"My wife asked me that,"
he says. "The other day, she
said to me, 'I've got to go back
home and you've got to stay
here — and you really love all
this, don't you?"'

But Mark O'Connor says he
is interested in more than
mere name recognition or
personal popularity.
"I'm too into this trial and
too concerned with legal
history than with what
flashes in and out of the
media every day," he insists
as his Israeli assistant
continues pacing the hallway,
anxious to get home to his
family for the weekend.
The bizarre power struggle,
which has now shattered the
defense team, has left
observers wondering about
the tactics of the Demjanjuk
family.
There is speculation that
they are planning to bring in
a legal superstar from the
United States to take over
the defense.
But it is doubtful whether
a new defense counsel,
however high powered, can
hope to master the quantity
and complexity of the
evidence that has
accumulated since the trial
opened in Jerusalem five
months ago.
It is doubtful, too, that the
court will be favourably
disposed towards another
long adjournment in these
drawn-out proceedings.
Whatever the outcome of
the latest imbroglio, though,
and whatever the final
judgment on Demjanjuk,
Mark O'Connor is unlikely to
realize his most cherished
dream.
"When John is acquitted,"
he had told me, "we'll
immediately vacate the
judgment ordering his
deportation from the United
States and we'll have special
bill in Congress to restore his
citizenship.
"He'll go home an
American citizen. We'll fly
him home — like the
America's Cup."

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ecent reports in the
press have identified
me as a member of a
delegation of rabbis from an
important rabbinic organiza-
tion who travelled to the
Soviet Union last month. My
wife and I did in fact visit
Moscow last month but we
did not participate in any of
the meetings organized by
the rabbis. Moreover, we do

not share the conclusions
which have been publicized
concerning major break-
throughs in easing the plight
of Soviet Jewry.
Permit me to explain. Dur-
ing our visit we met with the
leading refuseniks of varying
points of view: secular
Zionists, Hebrew teachers
and fervently religious men
and women. They were all
united on one issue: The first
priority for Soviet Jews, is
emigration. Jewish cultural

Continued on Page 20

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