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June 10, 1988 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-06-10

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FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 1988

Democracy Called Safety Net
For Latin America's Jews


. long as democracies
exist in Latin Ameri-
can countries, their
Jewish communities are safe.
Without democratic govern-
ments, however, there may
not be a future for Latin Jews.
Jacobo Kovadloff, director of
South American affairs and
Spanish mass media for the
American Jewish Committee,
said he believes anti-
Semitism is "endemic" to
Argentina. But, Jews there
now have "high positions" in
the Alfonsin government — in
the Cabinet and in the na-
tional banks. At the same
time, he told the annual
meeting Monday of the
AJCommittee at Temple Beth
El, there is a growth in anti-
Semitic events and publica-
tions, perpetrated by neo-
Nazis and neo-Fascists "to
provoke the government."
In Panama, synagogues and
schools are operating normal-
ly, but Jews there are in a
precarious position political-
ly. Both the pro-Gen. Manuel
Noriega and anti-Noriega fac-
tions are trying to enlist the
Jews. However, according to
Kovadloff, the Jews are play-
ing it smart and not taking
Traditionally, Kovadloff
said, anti-Semitism has been
intense in Argentina and
Mexico. He blamed the in-
fluence of the Catholic
Church, which has a history
of belonging to the political-
ly conservative right wing.
While in Argentina,
Kovadloff manned the
AJCommittee South Ameri-
can office in Buenos Aires,
but was forced to leave in
1977 because of anti-Semitic
threats. Presently, anti-
Semitism is promoted in a
new way, via anti-Zionism
espoused by the Palestine
Liberation Organization
which has opened offices in
these countries. On the other
hand, Brazil and Chile have
experienced the least amount
of anti-Semitism, Kovadloff
explained, because the
church is separate from the
state and these countries are
more progressive than their
neighbors. In Chile, for exam-
ple, the country's 20,000 Jews
"have been well integrated
since the beginning (of their
arrival there)." On Yom
Yerushalayim, the Jews are
joined in their celebration of
the reunification of
Jerusalem by other Chileans.

Jacobo Kovadloff

Kovadloff said there is a
trend for South American
Jews to leave their
homelands, not because of
persecution but for economic

reasons. Very few come to the
U.S. and Israel. Most go to
Australia, New Zealand,
Spain and Venezuela.
Jews first came to Argen-
tina, Kovadloff's native coun-
try, about 150 years ago.
Massive immigration began
about 50 years later. As they
arrived, Jews made signifi-
cant contributions to
agriculture and helped
organize the labor unions.
Although democracies in
Latin America bode well for
the Jews, "we are afraid of the
future of these democracies,"
Kovadloff explained. He cited
the economic problems suf-
fered by those countries,
evidence that the militaries
are trying to regain their
positions and the presence of
PLO and offices representing
Arab countries who actively
espouse anti-Zionism.

Shoah Stands In Way
Of Band's Vienna Visit


Special to The Jewish News


nn Arbor — It
sounded like a won-
derful opportunity:
The Pioneer High Symphony
Orchestra had been invited to
the International Youth and
Music Festival to be held in
Vienna next year.
But when one member of
the Ann Arbor Board of
Education learned about the
invitation to the festival —
sponsored by the Association
for International Cultural
Exchange, the city of Vienna
and the Austrian Ministry of
Education and Art — she was
less than thrilled about it.
"I'm not comfortable with
Ann Arbor money being
spent in a country whose
government is a major traves-
ty," Board Member Ellen Of-
fen told those attending the
May board of education
Offen was referring
specifically to the president of
Austria, Kurt Waldheim, ac-
cused of complicity in Nazi
atrocities that occurred in
Yugoslavia and Greece dur-
ing World War II. What par-
ticularly upset Offen, she ex-
plained later, was what she
saw as the total lack of con-
sideration given to the
Offen's comments were the
most vocal and pointed, but
her concern's were shared by

others. Board President Lynn
Rivers, who is not Jewish,
thought that students, par-
ticularly those who were go-
ing as a school group to a
foreign country, should be
given an overall sense of a
country's history.
"Someone should be sen-
sitive to the beauty and
cultural traditions of a coun-
try but also should be sen-
sitive to other (negative)
traditions," Rivers said.
Tanya Israel, board trustee,
agreed and pointed out that
for years she has been in-
terested in incorporating the
Holocaust into the school
Though no public monies
would be spent if the or-
chestra were to go to Vienna,
the board must give its ap-
proval to the trip. The board
is scheduled to vote on the or-
chestra's request Wednesday.
Israel said that she would not
vote against the request; Of-
fen did not say how she would
Some thought that Offen's
comments confused the issue
directly at hand — whether or
not the students would be
able to attend the festival.
"As the child of two parents
who are Holocaust survivors,
I think I'm quite sensitive to
the issue," explained Susan
Kluger, whose daughter plays
the flute in the orchestra.
"This is an extraordinary in-
Kluger said that, in spite of

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