NEW YORK (Sep. 14)
The outbreak of fighting in Managua and other cities in Nicaragua between government forces and rebels has not had any special impact on the country’s small Jewish community, it was reported here by Rabbi Morton M. Rosenthal, director of the Latin American affairs department of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
Rosenthal said that in a telephone conversation with a leader of the Jewish community, he was told that Jews, as such, have no special problems and “their situation remains okay.” The small Jewish community consists of 40 people concentrated in the capital city of Managua, six Jews in Granada and one in Leon.
During a visit to Managua last May, Rosenthal said he found that the Jewish community had recovered from the devastating earthquake of 1972, which destroyed the capital. Following the earthquake, some 60 Jews, more than half the city’s Jewish population, left the country. Rosenthal said the remaining Jews have replaced the synagogue which was destroyed by the quake with a small but beautiful new temple which serves as a focal point for Jewish life.
Most of the Jews in Nicaragua immigrated there from Europe after World War II. Their children, for the most part, have gone abroad for their education and have not returned.
The Somoza regime, which is now under attack, has been friendly with Israel since the latter’s creation. Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, in his recently published autobiography “For Jerusalem: A Life,” describes how the father of the present President Anastasio Somoza Debayle, Gen. Anastasio Somoza Garcia who took power in 1936, agreed in 1947 to give Jewish Agency officials documents enabling them to purchase arms and other equipment necessary to repel the Arab attack they new would be unleashed once the Jewish State was created.
Nicaragua also agreed to support the creation of the State of Israel when the issue came before the United Nations General Assembly and has continued to support Israel at the UN since then. There have been reports from Nicaragua that the Sandinista National Liberation Front, the leftwing group which is said to be loyal to Cuba and the Soviet Union and has been fighting the Somoza government, had agreed to join farces with the Palestine Liberation Front in opposing Israel.