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May 15, 1981 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-05-15

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

18 Friday, May 15, 1981

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

The Jacobo Timerman Drama: Notable Libertarian
Document Cites Argentine Anti-Semitic Inhumanities

One day last month, 100
women marched in Buenos
Aires to protest the disap-
pearance of children in
Argentina. The fear is that
they were murdered. The
next day, 1,000 women par-
ticipated in a silent march
in Buenos Aires. Their con-
cern is for the 6,000 people
missing. They demand that
the government explain
why and where they van-
ished. Since the charge is
that they were killed, the
question is who killed- them
and why.
This became an even

more distressing demon-
stration with the publica-
tion of "Prisoner Without a
Name, Cell Without a.
Number" (Knopf) by Jacobo
Timerman. The book was
translated from the Spanish
by Toby Talbot.
Jacobo Timerman is the
eminent editor of La Opin-
ion who was a prisoner for
30 months, who was tor-
tured, who finally was per-
mittE to go to Israel where
he is 1.ow again active as a
journalist.
Timerman's is a re-
markable story. It is an

indictment of Nazism and
the tortures he and the
victims of the Argenti-
nian persecution suffer
from methods akin to
Nazism. Jacobo intro-
duces himself as Jacob
ben Nathan, his father
having been Nathan ben
Jacob. He is a Zionist and
he has fulfilled his mis-
sion in Israel. After relat-
ing the experiences of
being a prisoner without
a name in a cell without a
number, he defines the
fulfillment:
"I have survived to give

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testimony. And I am doing
so at age 57, in the land of
Israel, where I am be gin-
ning this book a few days
after the birth of the first
Israeli Timerman, whose
name is Nahum ben Nathan
ben Jacob. That is, Nahum
(he wlio brings solace), son
of Nathan, who is the son of
Jacob, who is the son of that
other Nathan of Bar, who
was the son of Jacob whose
grave he left when depart-
ing for Argentina. We have
completed our voyage."
It is the beginning that
gives emphasis to the entire
story: Timerman tells of his
ancestors who escaped the
Spanish Inquisition and
settled in the town of Bar in
the Ukraine. This town was
destroyed, the Jews mas-,
sacred, by Chmielnicki in
1648-1649. After the Cos-
sack chief massacred the
Jews, "the community re-
covered, however, and as-
sumed that something as
brutal as the existence of
Cossack murders could only
be God's final test before the
coming of the Messiah. So
staunch was theft- convic-
tion that in 1717 they con-
structed their great
synagogue, receiving per-
mission beforehand from
the Bishop.
attended
that
Synagogue with my father,
his six brothers, and all my
cousins, and bear within me
still a vague longing for
those tall, bearded, unsmil-
ing men.
In 1941, when the Nazis

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his behalf was being ig-
nored.
Then came the tense
period of his being stripped
of citizenship, of his expul-
sion from the country, and
this is described in a
deeply-moving account:

JACOBO TIMERMAN

entered Bar, they set that
synagogue on fire, burn-
ing many Jews to death.
All other Jews of Bar,
plus others from the
environs, including the
Timermans, who have
survived the sufferings —
which according to their
rabbis had been imposed
by God to herald the Mes-
siah's arrival — were kil-
led by the Nazis in Oc-
tober of 1942. Some 12,000
within a couple of days.
"My father, happily, had
left Bar for Argentina in
1928. In 1977, in Argen-
tina, the same- ideological
conviction that impelled
Chmielnicki and the Nazis
reverberated in the ques-
tions posed by my inter-
rogators inside the army's
cl4ndestine prisons."
This is so valuable as a
history that it overshadows
even the dramatically per-
sonal in the Timerman
story. There was suffering
and persecution. His ac-
count symbolizes Argenti-
nian oppression through the
tortures he suffered. That
gives his volume the sub-
stance of a great historical
document, a massive
Zionist testament and a
deep expression of human
dignity.
Timerman's story is an
indictment of the Argenti-
nian persecutors, a revela-
tion of the extent of anti-
Semitic and anti-Zionist ac-
tivities by the dictatorial
military, and is, at the same
time, a criticism of those
who cringed, of the
frightened Jewish leader-
ship and its hesitation to act
and protest against the in-
dignities and threats to
human life.
Arrested on April; 15,
1977 without reason, he
was tortured,
blindfolded, subjected to
electric shock. The
soldiers who arrested
him said they were acting
on orders of the First
Army Corps. When Mrs.
Timerman called the
Army Corps they claimed
not to know anything.
It was a struggle for his
release, which finally was
ordered by the Supreme
Court. It dragged and there
was an attempt to thwart
the ruling. After the months
of tortures he was released
from prison to be placed
under house arrest. The
Supreme Court decision in

"At the federal security
offices I'm informed that I
have been stripped of my
citizenship and expelled
from the country, and will
be transported at once to the
airport. I argue that this de-
cision is illegal since only a
judge can take such a meas-
ure, and that in order for it
to be valid, 60 days must
elapse during which I have
the right to appeal.
"Appeal from Israel,"
I'm told by the Assistant
to the Minister of the
Interior. So I learn that
I'm to go to Israel. I'm
handed a passport,
which is valid for only
two days. Then the Israeli
charge d'affaires comes
into the room and at-
taches the visa to my
passport. He insists on
accompanying me. A
brief argument ensues,
during which he states
that he won't let me go
alone, that he wishes to
accompany me to the
plane.
"We all leave the building
together. They keep argu-
ing. Israeli security men are
waiting on the ground floor,
where two automobiles are
parked. The atmosphere is
extremely tense. A police of-
ficial indicates that we'll be
going to a heliport since a
helicopter will be taking me
to the airport, which is 30
kilometers from the city,
and that the Israeli official
can follow us in his own car.
"Once in the heliport, the
Israeli security men again
insist on accompanying me
to the plane. Then a high-
ranking official says that no
one can join the individuals
on my helicopter, but a sec-
ond helicopter will be es-
corting us in the event of an
attack from land, and the
charge d'affaires can go in
that one.
"We reach the airport,
where an Aerolineas
Argentinas plane destined
for Rome is waiting. We get
into the plane along with
the airport commander, a
patrol of air force soldiers,
and the Israeli official — my
companions. The individu-
als escorting me leave, the
Israeli diplomat going last,
so as to be certain that the
door is closed and I remain
on the plane. The plane
takes off.
"Some time later, I
learned from my wife
that the U.S. Embassy
had passage prepared for
me on an American plane
and a group of security
officers ready to transfer
me to Washington. I also
found out that during the
airplane stops — at Rio
de Janeiro, Madrid,
Rome — police from var-
ious countries observed
(Continued on Page 20)

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