U.S. Jewish Leaders Concerned by Franklin Conviction

Two days after former Pentagon analyst Larry A. Franklin was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in jail for sharing classified information with pro-Israel lobbyists, several American Jewish community leaders echoed a single refrain: There's reason to worry, but no need to feel like this is a crisis.

Franklin pleaded guilty in October to sharing the information with AIPAC lobbyists and Israeli diplomat Naor Gilon. Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who were fired from AIPAC in 2004, are facing charges of disclosing confidential information to Israel, apparently about Iran.

Some American Jewish leaders are concerned by the influence the trial could have on the relations between Jewish groups and the administration.

Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman said the Franklin affair could potentially pose a threat to all Jewish lobbyists.

Foxman said it is not clear what exactly is allowed in terms of the relationships between the administration and the media and between nongovernmental organizations and foreign governments. The lack of clarity, he said, could have a destructive influence on the activities of all U.S. Jewish groups.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, said yesterday that he found Franklin's sentence "disturbing."

"The very fact that this kind of climate can exist in the capital of the U.S. is unacceptable," he said at the Herzliya Conference.

Rosen and Weissman, he said, "are two patriotic American citizens working for a Jewish organization, who did nothing to violate the American security."