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June 20, 1986 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-20

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


Two Defroiters Battle
A Waldheim Legacy


Staff Writer

John Frances

In light of the recent Austrian
presidential victory of accused
Nazi criminal Kurt Waldheim,
many have taken a "so what"
attitude. Johnathan Frances and
Rev. James Lyons chose to dis-
play their feelings in another
On June 4, Southfield resident
Frances joined 50 other college
students in Washington D.C. out-
side the Justice Department to
protest Waldheim not being bar-
red from the United States. The
demonstrators held signs and

Rev. James Lyons

chanted "Meese please act now,"
"Waldheim was a Nazi" and
"Waldheim on Watch List." A
huge cardboard hourglass with
swastikas falling through was
displayed with a sign proclaim-
ing "time is running out."
Frances was one of the few to
address the demonstration. "My
speech lasted about five minutes
and I pointed out that I had rela-
tives in Salonika and, because
people sometimes forget, I re-
minded them that Sephardic
Jews were also killed and that
Waldheim was put on the watch-
list but it was not followed
Ironically, Frances did not
realize until the night before that
his family did come from
Salonika where his great
grandfather was a rabbi. Because
of that correlation, he was asked
to speak.
Although he now attends the
University of Maryland, Frances
represented Wayne State Uni-

versity at the rally because he
attended WSU for one year. The
protestors were part of a
student-run Network, which
"likes to concern itself with the
issues that won't divide the
Jewish people such as Nazi war
criminals and Soviet Jewry," he .
The 50 demonstrators repre-
sented four provinces and 20
states, and "were happy with the
turnout because it was done on
short notice," he explained. "I got
a phone call the Monday night
before the rally and flew in Tues-
day night." Network helped sub-
sidize his trip.
Although pleased with the
rally, Frances doubts Waldheim
will be placed on the U.S. watch
list. "It would create too many
problems" he said, "because Au-
stria is a friendly nation."
Rev. James Lyons of the Ecu-
menical Institute for Jewish-
Christian Studies went to Au-
stria last week to combat the up-
surge of anti-Semitism arising
from Waldheim's campaign.
Lyons and eight other minis-
ters traveled to Vienna as sym-
bols of Christian solidarity and
concern. "We were a group that
signed a convenant that
whenever anti-Semitism breaks
out, we will go and stand as a
sign of solidarity with Jews and
Christians who are fighting
against it, and to meet with
Christian leaders who say they
want to help us," he explained.
"When it breaks out, it is also
anti-Christian and if people rec-
ognize it as such, they can see
that it is our battle and not just a
Jewish one."
Lyons was asked to be a part of
this trip because he is familiar
with Europe, having traveled
there often. "I could help trans-
late to Europeans what we were
trying to do. Once they under-
stood we weren't there to point a
finger, they were most receptive."
Before he embarked, Lyons
studied the situation." I spent
two days reading what was
available and talked to people,
such as professors in New York."
During his seven-day stay,
Lyons witnessed the anti-
Semitism that contributed to
Waldheim's victory. "It has be-
come popular because no one has
repudiated it. This latent hatred
keeps coming forward and the
election sort of said that it was
allright to feel that." "Another
reason," he said, was that Wal-
dheim's past was raised by the
Austrians themselves in a maga-
zine called Profile. The American
Jewish Congress then picked up
on it and suddenly it was a
Jewish question."
Lyons said older Austrian Jews
try to remain inconspicuous and
not raise questions. The younger
Jews are proud of their heritage
and feel that no one has the right
to take that away. "There is a
split in the Jewish community on
whether to speak out or hope that
it (anti-Semitism) goes away,
which is part of the crisis," he

Continued on next page

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