- Ronald Greenwald
name = Ronald Greenwald
birth_date = birth date|1934|1|8|mf=y
nationality = USA
occupation = Negotiator and Educator
Rabbi Ronald Greenwald (born
January 8, 1934) is an Orthodox Jewish rabbiwho is a businessman and an educator.
New York City, he has made a career of spy trading, international hostage mediation, and other forms of high stakes, high intrigue diplomacy. He served as presidential liaison of President Richard Nixonto the Jewish community during the Nixon administration. He serves as a community activist, chairs various civic boards, and directs a high school and a summer camp.
Involvement in notable release efforts
Rabbi Greenwald has been involved in scores of release efforts for various prisoners from around the world.
In perhaps his highest profile case, Rabbi Greenwald worked closely with Representative
Benjamin Gilman(R-NY) and East German lawyer Wolfgang Vogelto secure the release Soviet dissident and Refusenik Natan Sharanskyfrom Soviet prison in the late 1970s. He made more than 25 trips across the " Iron Curtain" to East Germanyas part of that effort. [New York Post article from June 16, 1978] The Rockland Journal News reported that Rabbi Greenwald was the "man behind the talks" that freed Sharansky. [Rockland Journal News, Feb. 11, 1986, front page (banner headline)]
In conjunction with Representative Gilman, Rabbi Greenwald negotiated the rescue a 24 year old
Zimbabweborn Israelicitizen named Miron Marcus in 1978. Mr. Marcus was captured when an airplane piloted by his brother-in-law, Jackie Bloch, was forced to land in Mozambique, where Mr. Bloch was killed and Marcus taken hostage. Rabbi Greenwald, Congressman Gilman and others arranged for a complex swap that involved four countries (Mozambique, Israel, the United Statesand East Germany), convicted East German spy Robert Thompson and U.S. student Alan van Norman. [New York Post article from June 16, 1978]
Granados was kidnapped by leftist guerillas in November, 1979 while at a soccer game in
Guatemala City. Rabbi Greednwald, working again with Representative Gilman, helped broker the exchange of Mr. Granados in exchange for a ransom payment of $4,000,000. [New York Post article from Jan. 21, 1980]
Vladimir Raiz, a Soviet molecular biologist, had been denied permission to leave the former
Soviet Unionfor 18 years before Greenwald entered the picture. According to Steve Lieberman in the Rockland Journal News, Greenwald secretly met with Raiz in Lithuania in 1989. Following negotiations with Soviet authorities, Raiz and his family were permitted to emigrate in 1990. [Rockland Journal News article from March 9, 1990]
Rabbi Greenwald was involved in the transfer of
Shabtai Kalmanovitchfrom the USSR to Israel. However, in 1987 Kalmanovitch was arrested in Tel Aviv and charged with being a KGBspy and sentenced to nine years in prison in 1987 for spying for the Soviet Union. He was released from prison after five years and returned to to Russia.
In 1994, political activist and New York native
Lori Berensonwas arrested, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for treason by a Peruvian military tribunal. She was accused of belonging to a Marxist rebel group and plotting to overthrow the Peruvian government. [ [http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/tvaradarajan/?id=65000350 The Wall Street Journal Online - Citizen of the World ] ] Because of the shady circumstances surrounding her trial and her harsh sentence, Amnesty International, in 2003, referred to berenson as a "political prisoner." [ [http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/Per-summary-eng/ Amnesty International ] ]
With the support of President
Bill Clinton. in 2000, Rabbi Greenwald led a delegation of American negotiators to Peru to press the Peruvian government to free Berenson or, at least, to grant her a new trial in a civilian court. [The Jewish Week, March 10, 2000] The effort succeeded and Berenson was afforded a new trial in civilian court. At her subsequent trial, Berenson was convicted again and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
Rabbi Greenwald has been involved in many of the attempts to gain clemecy for
Jonathan Pollardby convincing the then serving President of the United Statesto pardon Pollard or to commute his sentence. Particularly noteworthy was his effort to set up a three way trade involving Israel, the United Statesand Russia. Under Greenwald's proposal, Israel would release Professor Marcus Klingberg, who was being held by Israel or suspected Russian spy Shabtai Kalmanowitchto Russia, the Russians would release Dimitri Federovich Polyakov (known to the FBIas "Top Hat") or Anatoly Filatov, who were both being held by Russia on suspicion of having spied for the United States, and the U.S. would pardon Pollard and allow him to move to Israel. Congressman Benjamin Gilmanand Sam Nunn's former chief of staff, Jeff Smith(who would later become chief council for the CIA) were also involved in the proposed transaction.
Unfortunately for Pollard, the effort broke down when
Yossi Ben Aharon, assistant to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamirinsisted on Israel negotiating directly with the Russians rather than through an intermediary such as Greenwald. The Israeli negotiating effort never gained traction, and Pollard remains in prison to this day.
Greenwald's and others' efforts to convince U.S. President
Bill Clintonto commute Pollard's sentence were hampered in large part by a letter written to Clinton by Donald Rumsfeldand signed by seven former Secretaries of Defense, urging the President not to pardon Pollard. (See letter on right.)
In 1983, Dr. Alfred Zehe, an East German scientist residing in Massachusetts, was arrested for conspiracy to violate U.S. espionage laws for allegedly handing secret "sonar plan" documents to East German operatives in Mexico. East German lawyer and spy trader Wolfgang Vogel was put in charge of the effort to free Zehe. He brought in
Alan Dershowitzto oversee the legalities of the effort and Greenwald to act as a person liaison between him and Zehe.
Greenwald visited Zehe several times in prison. During this time, he learned that Zehe was being threatened with being brought to trial under espionage charges that carried the threat of many decades in prison while being cajoled to turn over to the CIA whatever information he had that might be helpful to that agency. Greenwald conveyed messages to Zehe from his family urging him to do whatever it took to allow himself to be released as soon as possible. Eventually, Zehe pled guilty and conducted a full debriefing in exchange for the promise of a light sentence. Shortly thereafter, he was released as part of the
Natan Sharanskyexchange with the U.S.S.R.[ [http://harveysilverglate.com/cases/cases-zehe.html Espionage ] ]
Jack Anderson, in the December 3, 1988 edition of the Washington Post, reported that Rabbi Greenwald was working on an effort to persuade U.S. authorities to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, who had been condemned to life imprisonment. Those efforts were unsuccessful, and Pollard remains in prison as of 2007. With regard to Pollard, Greenwald has commented "With the Pollard case there's not exactly anti-Semitism, but rather the issue of Israel and how the State Department looks at Jews and feels about Israel, and I believe there's a bias." [ [http://www.forward.com/issues/2000/00.10.06/news5.html Jewish News, Jewish Newspapers - Forward.com ] ] Earlier, Anderson had insinuated in a previous column that Rabbi Greenwald had ties to the CIA, Mossadand KGB. [Washington Post Nov. 18, 1986, Page E19]
On February 3, 1986, the
ABC Evening Newswith Peter Jenningscredited Rabbi Greenwald with playing a role in the negotiations for the release of Sharansky and featured a video clip of Rabbi Greenwald expressing optimism that Sharansky would be released. [ [http://openweb.tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/1986-2/1986-02-03-ABC-5.html USSR / Shcharansky ABC News broadcast from the Vanderbilt Television News Archive ] ]
His high-placed connections and adventures involving delicate international diplomacy have led to speculation (albeit groundless) about nefarious connections to legal and illegal organizations around the world. As of May, 2006, no fewer than 20
websites(mostly anti-Semiticsites) have alleged that Rabbi Greenwald has or had mafia connections.
On March 9, 1990, a
Rockland Journal Newsheadline called Rabbi Greenwald a “master of international negotiation” and credited him with playing prominent roles in the freeing of Sharansky, Marcus, Granados and several others. [Rockland Journal News article from March 9, 1990]
The USA Today also credited Greenwald for arranging the release of Sharansky and commented that his dealings with famed international mediators such as
Wolfgang Vogelduring various negotiations resembled a "spy novel." [USA Today, Feb. 12, 1986, Page 2A]
Television Interviews Regarding the New Square Pardon Affair
Following the pardon by President
Bill Clintonof several convicted members of the New Squarehassidic community, Rabbi Greenwald was interviewed by several media outlets regarding his opinion and even his role in the affair. The fact that Greenwald had ties to the New Squarecommunity, was a former business associate of Marc Rich, another person pardoned by Clinton at the end of his term and had been questioned by the FBIduring its investigation into the pardons, made his opinions regarding the incident highly sought after by media outlets. On March 12, 2001, on The Edge, Paula Zahnconducted a 10 minute interview with Greenwald. He also appeared on The O'Reilly Factoron October 10, 2002, when he was cross examined by host Bill O'Reilly for several minutes regarding the affair. In both interviews, Greenwald conceded that the New Squarecommunity probably voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clintonin her race against Rick Laziofor U.S. Senatein 2000 with some expectation that some consideration be given to pardoning the members of the New Square community. However, he steadfastly maintained that that there had been no quid pro quoor agreement to exchange votes for a pardon.
Lithuanian Torah Scrolls Incident
Algirdas Brazouskas] In September 1997, during a visit of scores of rabbis and other Orthodox Jews to Lithuania to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of the great Vilna Gaon(Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer of Vilnius) ["Back to the Future," "Jewish Seintinel", October 10-16,1997, Page 17] , Rabbi Greenwald personally successfully negotiated with the Lithuanian government to allow the burial of several desecrated Torahscrolls. The scrolls were among hundreds of Torah scrolls that had been disgraced by the Nazisand/or the Lithuanians during World War II. With the negotiated help of the government, Rabbi Greenwald and others located over three hundred scrolls, including some that were being held in the basement of a church. They were able to salvage most of the scrolls for further use. The scrolls that could not be salvaged were buried in an elaborate ceremony attended by visiting Orthodox Jews from around the World and Lithuanian officials ["Burial of Holocaust Torah Remnants in Vilna," "Jewish Press", October 3,1997] .
The day prior to the "funeral," Rabbi Greenwald was invited to (and did) address the Lithuanian Parliament.
Rabbi Greenwald had a variety of unusual ties to
South Africain the Apartheidera. He was the diplomatic representative of the African Bantustanof Bophuthatswanain the United States, when that "homeland" lacked international recognition. [Washington Post Nov. 18, 1986, Page E19 ]
chools and camps
When not engaged in high stakes international diplomacy, Rabbi Greenwald operates
Camp Sternberg, a summer camp in the Catskill Mountains[ [http://campsmogenavrahamhellersternberginc.org/sternberg/administration.html Camp Sternberg & Anna Heller ] ] and runs Monsey Academy for Girls, a private high school in Rockland County, New York, of which he was the founder. [ [http://www.nevey.org/ushigh.htm Neve Yerushalayim Jewish Educational Network ] ] On November 26, 2006, a groundbreaking ceremony was organized and held by Rabbi Greenwald in New Hempstead, New Yorkto celebrate the commencement of a multi-million dollar construction project that will, when completed, result in a new campus for that school that will feature detached dormitories, modern classrooms and extensive athletic facilities.
Involvement with charitable organizations
Rabbi Greenwald has served as chairman of the board of the Women’s League in Rockland County (which creates and oversees adult group homes in that county) and of the
Borough Park, Brooklynbranch of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS). He also serves on the Board of Governors of the Orthodox Unionand formerly served as Vice President of that organization. [ [http://www.ou.org/index.php/ou/contact_names/category/Board%20of%20Governors/ Contact and Feedback ] ]
Rabbi Greenwald and the Prince of Italy
Rabbi Greenwald has worked with Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Italy in a variety of capacities. In January 2007, the two met in New York to discuss, among other things, a billion dollar Las Vegas hotel construction project being worked on by the "Made in Italy Group." (Both men serve the project in various capacities.) During the meeting, Prince Filiberto expressed regret for his great-grandfather Victor Emmanuel III's cooperation (albeit limited) with
Adolf Hitlerand the Nazis in their campaign of aggressive war and genocide against the Jews. He further reiterated his prior condemnation of those actions and expressed optimism regarding the present and future of Italian-Jewish relations. [Jewish Tribune, January 19-25, 2007, pages 3,39]
Rabbi Greenwald has also held positions as:
*Executive Director of Yeshiva Toras Emes in
Brooklyn, New York
*Director of the Jewish election campaign of former New York Governor
*Chaplain of the
New York State Police
*Director of the Jewish presidential campaign of
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