Even as the Egyptian opposition to beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak is rallying around
Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, a top spokesman on foreign affairs for the American Jewish community has derided ElBaradei as a "stooge of Iran."
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and one of the most influential Jewish voices in the United States, said ElBaradei covered up evidence of Iran's nuclear weapons program while he was head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
"He is a stooge of Iran, and I don't use the term lightly," Hoenlein said in an online recorded interview with Yeshiva World News on the Egyptian crisis. "He fronted for them, he distorted the reports."
Hoenlein's comments were reported Monday by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency
The remarks come at a precarious moment in the Egyptian crisis, and could complicate the diplomatic balancing act not only by the United States but also by Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his first official comments
on the situation on Monday and said that Israel's chief goal was to maintain "stability and security in our region."
"I remind you that the peace between Israel and Egypt has endured for over three decades, and our goal is to ensure that these relations continue," Netanyahu said.
ElBaradei, who directed the IAEA from 1997 to 2009, is popular in Europe and among many in the Middle East, but he was a thorn in the side of the Bush administration because he opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, arguing there was insufficient evidence that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction. Subsequent events vindicated ElBaradei's views.
ElBaradei pressured Iran on its nuclear program but also urged the West to engage the Islamic republic. U.S. agencies reportedly monitored his communications to see if he was colluding with Iran but came up with nothing.