8 October IQ?ﾃつｫ
-A UUt ON-CHILDREN
bv Rabbi Joseph B. Glaser. Executive Vice President. CCAR
I will never forget her face. It sudden 1- appeared to me
during the Avion Mal'-elnu, blocking otit the three Torahs In the ark. and I
hurst Into tears. And I preyed for her.?
Ue had met ontv three wee's before, to the day. In the lobb
of tf- DA IA tn Buenos Aires. The DAIA is the umbrella organisation of Jewish
life in Argentina. Our rabbi in Argentina. Roberto Graetz. had taken ﾃつｫie there
to meet with the Board of the DAIA, to exchange views on the we 11-being of
Argentine Jewry and on American Jewish involvement In the situation. As we
walked Into the lobbv of the building and headed toward the elevator, a
man and a woman leaped up fro-i a bench and hurried over to Intercept Rabbi
? Graetz. Ue had been delayed in traffic and were late, and although Roberto
"> was anxious about it, he stopped and patiently llatened, and responded. The
wo nan did the tal-lnf>. and although it was in rapid Spanish, I knew instant I v
what it was about.
She may have been about flftv. Her hair was graying, she
was a hit heaw set, her features were pleasant and her eves never left Roberto's
^ nor did her pleading sille ever leave her face. Urgent as was her business, and
cutting her heartache, she dared not risk offending the Rahtno, or losing hit
attention. It was the persistent, supplicating smile that got to me. Her
husband didn't say anything - he just stood there, atone'like, agony written
alt over his face and body. At one point, he looted at me. standing to the
aide, out of his left, blue, blood-shot eye. That eve Is stilt staring at me.
Their twentv year old daughter had "disappeared.** Along with
six thousand, or more, other voting people, over one thouaand of thaw Jewish, she
had been abducted by on* branch or another of the Argentine Government on cut*
pic ion of left-wing, subversive activities. The Argentine Government will tail
von that these young people ere being taﾃつｻen by unofficial, right itiBg groups,
ARGENTINA PROJECT (S200000044)
U.S. DEPT. OF STATE. A/RPS/IPS
Margaret P. Grafeld, Director
^Release ( )Excise ( )Deny
Declassify: ( ) In Part ( ) In Full
( )Classifyas_ ( )Extendas_ ( ) Downgrade to ?
over which they" "have "virtual IT no control, and that they do not 'now what happen
- to the-it. They admit that a tot of the kidnapper* are associated with the Gov-
ernment. but they fear that a crackdown will produce such a right-wing backlash
that the moderate Government will fall or, at least, be forced into a more
repressive posture. Since breaking the back of the Communist and fellow-
traveling terrorist groups who held Argentina in their grip onlv a feu vears
ago. thev,have been steering Argentina gradually bac'; to a reasonably liberal
state, with an increasing restoration'of human rights, and they don't want to
rock the boat. Much of this Is revenge for the outrages of the previous period.
('they say J and anvway. most of the people disappearing have either skipped the
country or are in hiding in the interior.
Whatever the truth of the Govern-ient's disavowal of Its own
complicity, reports fro* within and without Argentina persistently claim that
ﾃつｦnost of those who have disappeared have been ta'ten to hiding places in Arg-
entina, systematically tortured, presumably to elicit "confessions" and the
implication of others and according to a growing number of sources, killed.
In Brazil, I received a chilling report that the bodiea were being disposed of
b- incineration, raising the additional spectre of the nasi Holocaust to that of
the Spanlah Inquisition. Rabbi Graetz. who Is both the bravest and the most
compassionate man I know. Is beginning to doubt whether he can continue to
apeak words of comfort and encouragement to the hundreds of families who come
to hi-n in their panic, asking if they should sav itaddleh for their children.
While I was there, the Organization of American States was
conducting its investigation into these charges of hu-nan rights violations,
ao it was deemed best that I not see Jacobo Tiraerman, the celt bra tad publisher
who was under house arrest and has aince been freed and "deported" to Israel.
The At*rlean press typically had
thev always do when it la erne of their own profession suffering tons Injury.
(I daresay that wort tvpe has be*n sat on the Tlmerman case than on tha
pllght of the six thousand, yount; people, or on the holocJisr in Caibodta or
the butcherv in Uganda.) I a-i delighted that Ti ierntan was released, albeit In
the crude and graceless -tanner In which he was freed and a-n aware of the fact
that it Is svrnhotlc of soﾃつｻe sort of dubious vlctorv for freedom of the press.
But in the joy of celebrating that release, the six thousand or more who have
disappeared tend to He forgotten and the pressure tends to be off, undoubtedlv
s calculated result. The mixed, good-news-bad news preliminary report of the
investigation hv the 0A$ is also a possible i tpedi tent to resetting those
captives still alive. Savin", that the situation Is improving, which is the
gist of the report brings on a sense of relief In most quarters. People do
not ll'-e to agonize about these dreadful things, and are always glad to get
an encouraging report so that the tension can be released.' As a consequence.
the victims are lt'-elv to be Forgotten and, with the spotlight off Argentina,
the situation could ta'ce a turn for the worse. We have seen this socio-psych-
ological factor at wor' a great deal lately: The Kremlin eases up on emigration
and toighens up on treatment of dissidents: the Saudis do us the "favor" of
holding bac'< on a few percentage points on a still outrageous oil price increase
and then cut bae'e on production, or threaten to; and so forth. A little
progress, a ﾃつｦ'tnd word and an utter villain be co-res a hero at whose feet we
fall in abject gratitude. It is the nice cop-nean cop svndrome and the fear is
that this is what might be at plav in Argentina. Fewer people are disappear^
ing, according to the QAS as well as to reports I received there, but people
are still disappearing, and there is a growing awareness that most of the victims
are indeed., dead
Whit!* the deader* &t feh* DAIA with whom I ,mt assured ma
-liht eurcant: 99 im @S tarrc*. It ihae hf% bandied00 and was osﾃつｮ longer * fae%@sﾃつｦ
M ?aﾃつｧpenat t@ reports that law* coma itt for pmtiiGwlatly brutal fewaatmant **.
'|ihiﾃつｫ hands #f <6h* sors^rart,. uhicto mﾃつｮ on* arsywhar* taanao Iﾃつｩ deny Si wat
**e:,alfitd thai slit ~lm iﾃつｻf saoatc whﾃつｩ arc aaaigaad *.e- terty?# othar mopl*
this widespread practice could have been stopped bv the not altogether innocent
Government, had it made such an effort. Still, the DA IA leadership requested
that I pass on to Anerlcan Jevrv the message that wholesale accusations of
antlsemltism in Argentina are counterproductive in that we will lose our
credibility against the time when "we may need vou." as it was put. How
often we Anerlcan Jews are in this agonising position of having to evaluate
the veracity of an 1-nperlled Jewish community.
And what of the disproportionate number of Jews who have been
abducted - one out of five or six? Of this we did not apeak at the DAIA but I
talked with others. Sone Jews said that most of then were involved in tone
kind of activity that would ma';e them suspect. I asked the mother of a 2')
year old girl if she ever feared for her daughter's safetv and she replied.
No, her daughter was totally apolitical. That gave me a clue as to where the
line vji dr*w,i .->:.) Jed -ne to the suspicion, fortified bv subsequent reports and
conversations, that there was an all-out atteiipt to snuff out wholesale almost
all left-wing activity, i.e.. alt political activity not in concert with the
right wing policies of the Government and the forces which hold it hostage.
The-, are not verv discriminating about their targets. A whole Hashomer
Hat salr youth group in Cordoba disappeared. Hashomer Hatsalr la a left-wing
socialist Zionist movement believing that that is the wav Israel should be run,
but not being that involved in the host countrv's politics. But the word was
out that thev were left-wing radicals, and off thev went. The Iaraell
ambassador aent two Israeli shllchlm to Cordoba to arrange for their release -
and the ahllchlm were ' idnappedl The ambassador himself had to go to Cordoba,
but he wsﾃつｫ onlv able to secure the release of the shllchlm. The children of
the youth group have not been heard of since.
Argentine will pay dearly for its war on children. In a
generation, there will be little quality in public life, in the professions,
in academe, or In the electorate (If such will ever exist) for that matter.
Bv killing or driving off Its idealistic youth It is dooming lteelf to ?
status of Inferiority. we alt know what happens eventually to the wild-eyed,
altruistic radlcata in their teena and twenties, but the Argentine power-
atructure la ignoring thla self-evident lesson of hlatorv. It la too bad:
Argentina la a beautiful country, uniquely blessed with almoat complete
self-eufflclency, including petroleum, and could have become a world leader.
Those youths would have been the intellectual, artistic and enlightened
political leadership and backbone of the nation.
Just as important, if not more so. is the Issue raised by
the tendency to evaluate the disappearances and proa'perserutions in the
assumption that the ao-called emergency tawa dictated by the Military Junta
are legal, fteme-nber the Jews In Buenos Aires who told me that many of the
Jewlah youth who had disappeared were involved in some kind of activity that
would nuvce them suspect? Thev had fallen Into the trap of condoning the
svste-n. as had an official of the World Jewlah Congress who, earlier this
year, analyzed the Timerman case on the basis of hist such an assumption.
to the detri'ient of Tl nertan and others, without considering whether this
"legality" la compatible with justice. If we were to accept "legality" per
ae, we would be unable to protest the fate of Anatol Scharanakv, or the
decision of the United Nations to seat the Pol Pot regl-ne. Thus the dilemma
of the Twentieth Centurv is acted out in yet another place on the Earth.
challenging us to the nitzvot of redeeming prisoners and moral protest.