December 10, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Williamsburg / The Greatest Story Ever

WikiRabbi! Leaked diplomatic cables make a star out of Niederman

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn has its own “victim” of the WikiLeaks dump — Rabbi David Niederman!

Buried in the 251,287 just-revealed diplomatic cables and no-longer-secret documents was a message from the United States embassy in Madrid detailing an effort by Niederman and his Williamsburg-based United Jewish Organizations to protect 15th-century Jewish gravesites discovered during construction projects in the Iberian peninsula, one of the cradles of modern Jewish civilization.

Across the world, governments have been reacting with outrage about the WikiLeaks dump — but in Brooklyn, Niederman laughed about the suddenly unsecret three-year-old cable from the embassy to Sen. Joe Lieberman (D–Connecticu­t).

“This is terrible!” he joked. “There are no secrets anymore.”

Rep. Ed Towns (D–Fort Greene) was also caught in the WikiLeaks net.

“Based on the interest of concerned Americans … among them Rep. Ed Towns and Rabbi David Niederman, [we] have expressed our concern to the Spanish government that these culturally and religiously sensitive sites need to be protected and handled in a manner in keeping with the wishes of the Jewish community in Spain,” read the diplomatic cable from then–Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre.

Aguirre was obviously impressed by Niederman’s commitment to preserving and relocating sacred Jewish burial grounds in Europe desecrated by overdevelopment — his passion for more than a decade. The problem is most acute in Eastern Europe, though there are no WikiLeak documents suggesting that Niederman had made inroads with diplomats there.

Niederman’s Spanish cemetery work was certainly not “Top Secret/Eyes Only” material. Any close reader of local newspapers would have seen coverage of Niederman and Towns’s diplomatic mission after the disturbance of Jewish remains at a Catalonian site in 2007, four months before the cable was written.

And the New York Times reported the outcry among American Jewish leaders, including Niederman, in July 2009, after the bodies of 103 Spanish Jews were exhumed from a burial site in Toledo — an ancestral home of Sephardic Jews before the Spanish Inquisition.

Niederman said he hopes that his work with the federal government on preserving burial sites throughout Europe will be unaffected by the WikiLeaks revelations.

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Reader Feedback

Sid from Beorum Hill says:
good for him...
Dec. 10, 2010, 6:28 pm
jim from cobble hill says:
Not to be a downer but... Considering what else is in the wikileaks documents, Americans really have no business telling Spain anything.
Dec. 11, 2010, 6:48 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
it sounds like the Brooklyn paper is out of news, Mr Aron short what else can you provide,lately there is no news this paper sucks!!!
Dec. 12, 2010, 1:23 am
Sam from Williamsburg says:
Finally some interesting news on a new topic...

Really interesting and noble mission.
Dec. 12, 2010, 12:34 pm
Moshe aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg says:
He talks the game. He's arrogant, condescending. He speaks above people and talks AND TALKS AND TALKS. He has nothing to offer except confusion. ... confusion and nonsense.
Dec. 13, 2010, 1:38 pm

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