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December 29, 1989 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-29

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

THE WORLD'S FINEST DESIGNERS

of Noriega's "Dignity Bat-
talions" to assault the
neighborhood, Dimmer said.
They requested direct
American assistance in their
neighborhood, which is some
100 yards from the Vatican
mission where Noriega has
taken refuge.
One tank entered the
neighborhood for two hours,
said Dimmer. He was among
several New York Jews who
called local members of Con-
gress and the State Depart-
ment, asking for help in the
Jewish neighborhood.
When it became apparent
that adequate protection
was not coming, the Jews
formed their own defense
group and took to the
streets.
On Friday night, under the
leadership of a Jewish
retailer of ladies' clothes, the
Jews went out, armed with
Uzis and handguns, and
pitifully little ammunition,
and used cars and vans to
cordon off the three streets
that provide access to the
area.
They stopped cars and
asked for proof of registra-
tion, Dimmer said, pulling
out those who could not pro-
vide it. There were many car
thefts by local brigands as-
sociated with Noriega.
By Tuesday, the situation
had improved, with the
streets reported to be
calmer.
Despite accounts of fear
and stress, the story is not
one of anti-Semitism, em-
phasized Rabbi Morton
Rosenthal, director of Latin
American affairs for the An-
ti-Defamation League of
B'nai B'rith.
He said the Jews should be
seen as Panamanians suffer-
ing from the effects of war
and angry that the U.S. in-
vasion plan did not include
protection of civilians and
streets to complement the
military strategy.
Although there was said to
be some level of cooperation
between Noriega and busi-
ness leaders, many of whom
are Jews, it is believed that
few Jews voted for him in
this year's presidential elec-
tion, won by Guillermo En-
dara but invalidated by
Noriega.
Virtually all Panamanian
Jews support the U.S. inva-
sion, according to sources
there.
About 70 percent of the
some 4,000 Jews of Panama
are Sephardic, most of whom
are of Syrian origin, their
families coming mainly from
the city of Aleppo.
Other Jews are of Egyp-
tian, Greek or Portuguese
origin, and there are a

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

19

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