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February 24, 1984 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-02-24

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

16 Friday, February 24, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Roles of Israel, DATA Still Debated

NEW 1984

By DAVID LANDAU
Jewish Peronist member
BUENOS AIRES (JTA) of Congress, Diego Gue-
— The Jewish community of lar, warned this reporter,
Argentina, as a vital and however, not to believe
long-established part of this everything one is told by
vast country with its trou- anti-Peronist Jews. He
bled recent history, is shar- contended that the
ing in the current psycho- Peronist movement as
with aft, stereo. tilt, and much. much more
political upheaval that is such was never anti-
engulfing Argentina with Semitic, though he con-
the return of democracy ceded that on its ul-
after seven years of military traright fringe there has
always been a neo-fascist
dictatorship.
Like the rest of the na- element.)
In a key respect, though,
tion, the Jews of Argentina
follow avidly and with the Jewish community here
strong feelings of relief, is stirred and troubled even
tempered with national more than the general pub-
shame, the day-after-day lic over the brief and bloody
discoveries of new mass history of the military dic-
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the Jews voted for Raul Al- enough to protect and save
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While statistics are still
See
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in the Presidential election
on Oct. 30. Many Jews here sketchy and investigations
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is already quite clear that
and fearful of Peronism.
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getting out alive were cer-
tainly slimmer.
Mrs. Eppelbaum, a lead-
ing figure in the Mothers of
the Plaza de Mayo group, is
among those Jews who fault
the community leadership
for inaction during the mili-
tary dictatorship. She ac-
cuses the then presidebt of
the DAIA, the representa-
tive body of Argentine
Jewry, of urging Jewish
organizations abroad to
mute the tone of their pro-
tests and not to intervene
overtly over the Jewish dis-
appeared ones.
Former Argentine news-
paper publisher Jacobo
Timerman, in his book,
"Prisoner Without A Name,
Cell Without A Number,"
also faults then-DAIA
president Nehemias Re-
znizky and the Jewish es-'
tablishment, at one point fl-
inging out the dreadful ac-
cusation, "Judenrat."
(The Judenrats, or Coun-
cils of Jews, were set up by
the Nazis in occupied
Europe and they in effect
helplessly assisted the
Germans in the process of
ghettoization and eventual
extermination. There were
some councils that vainly
tried to resist the Germans.)
In the later years of the
military dictatorship, the
Jewish Movement for
Human Rights was set
up, led by American-
Argentine Rabbi Mar-
shall Meyer and leftist
newspaper editor Her-
man Schiller, as a coun-
terweight to the estab-
lishment leadership, to
press persistently and
vociferously on the
human rights issue.
Reznizky, in a recent
interview, vehemently and
bitterly denied the allega-
tions against him. He
argued that. the DAIA, at
the helm of the community,
had been more active than
any other sectional group in
the land on behalf of the
missing persons and their
anguished families.
Each month, he recalled,
he himself would present a
list of Jewish missing per-
sons at the Ministry of
Interior. "I didn't help
much, but we kept at it. No
one could help much — even
the Vatican, even the
French and Italian govern-
ments," he said.
Reznizky flatly and
passionately denied that he
had urged Jewish organiza-
tions in the U.S. and
elsewhere to be silent or
keep a low profile. On the
contrary, he said,
"Whenever I was asked I
told the whole truth about
the terrible situation of the
Jews in Argentina and I
urged everyone to do what
they could."
Reznizky shows a
warm and admiring let-
ter to him, dated January
1977, from Rabbi Morton
Rosenthal, director of the
Latin American affairs
department of the Anti-
Defamation League of
Bnai Brith, totally scotch-
ing the suspicion that
arose then that Reznizky
had been cowed into

passivity by the arrest
and subsequent release
of his own son, Marcos.
Marcos was hauled off by
12 armed men from Rezniz-
ky's home in the dead of
night. But Reznizky senior
was able to intercede with
the Interior Minister, Gen-
eral Harguindeguy, and se-
cure his release after four
days of brutal interrogation
about Zionist plotting and
international Jewish con-
spiracies.

"Yes, I. know," he says,
"that other people were not
able to appeal to Harguin-
deguy. The minister knew
this case would cause an up-
roar, but the minister told
me that my son would be
freed because he was not in-
volved in subversion —
otherwise not even Har-
guindeguy would have
helped." After the release,
Reznizky immediately sent
Marcos and his other two
children to Israel. Marcos
still lives there.
Reznizky insists that he
and the DAIA continued
after this episode as before,
doggedly presenting their
lists of missing persons,
publicly fighting against
neo-Nazi literature then
pouring onto the market,
and generally ensuring that
Jewish life, religious and
'communal, continued to
flourish in these trying con-
ditions.
A third and less subjec-
tive perspective on this
poignant problem was of-
fered to the Jewish Tele-
graphic Agency by
Jacobo Fiterman, now
president of the Argen-
tine Zionist Federation.
Fiterman sympathizes
with the Jewish human
rights movement, but he
does not dismiss or dis-
count the efforts made by
the DAIA during the bad
years.
"We were afraid," he says
candidly. "But in this, the
Jews were no different from
the rest of the country.
Everyone was afraid."
Complicating the con-
troversy is a sub-debate
over the role of Israel. On
the one hand, Israeli dip-
lomats and other emissaries
were active discreetly in re-
scuing young Jews. Hun-
dreds were quietly flown to
Israel, and even now _much
of the story is untold and
unknown.
On the other hand, the Is-
rael government had — and
indeed still has — a close
arms-supply relationship
with Argentina. During the
junta period, the Argentina
Air Force built up a large
fleet of Israeli warplanes
which proved themselves
convincingly in the Mal-
vinas (Falklands) war.
There are critics in
Argentina, and in Israel,
too, who believe it was mor-
ally reprehensible for Israel
to supply a rightist regime,
with a crude anti-Semitic
tinge, with military
hardware. But others con-
tend that it was the close re-
lationship between the two
countries defense estab-
lishments that enabled Is-
rael to act quietly.

c7

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