Behind the Headlines a Nightmare Continues in Argentina

One of the leaders of the “Madres” — the Mothers of Argentina’s Plaza de Mayo who have demanded the government account for the thousands of “desaparecidos,” persons who disappeared without a trace during the junta’s reign of terror — charged that the country’s

Renee Epelbaum, in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency during her recent visit to New York, amplified on this statement, which she made in the new film, “Las Madres,” about the DAIA, the

“When the disappearances began in 1976, the DAIA did nothing — I don’t know if they were fearful or simply didn’t think it was convenient,” she told JTA. Having learned of a change in policy, she met with DAIA leaders and was told

She charged that shortly after Marcos, the son of then-DAIA president Nehemias Resnizky, was kidnapped in July 1977, and released after three days, “the DAIA stopped their commitment to this problem.” Many

CHARGE IS VEHEMENTLY DENIED

Resnizky has vehemently denied the charge, insisting, most recently in a JTA interview

The DAIA, in an official document dated January 1984 (long after Resnizky’s term of office was over), stated that it had “assumed without hesitations the defense of the Jews” whose disappearances were brought to its attention. The

The document stated that the DAIA intervened on behalf of Jewish desaparecidos (disappeared persons) from the beginning, sometimes delivering lists on a weekly basis. The community understood Marcos’ kidnapping as

The document mentions various interventions, the continued lack of response by the authorities — but success in the case of only one desaparecido, Marcos, and six prisoners.

ASSESSMENTS OF DAIA’S ROLE

Rabbi Marshall Meyer, who served as a rabbi in Buenos Aires during the reign of terror

“It would have been better had they said, ‘This is the darkest period of Argentine history. Murders are being committed every day — of our Christian brothers, our Jewish brothers, of atheists, of human beings. Human beings are being murdered daily; I didn’t hear

The DAIA’s 1984 document states that in May 1983 — when most of the kidnappings had stopped and people were beginning to protest openly against the junta — the DAIA made public a declaration reaffirming its condemnation of violence as a threat

The DAIA states in the document that it adhered to the principle of “the defense of the … dignity of the Jews and its permanent fight against anti-Semitism in all its forms …. During the agitated

Epelbaum condemned the statements the DAIA made that Jewish communal life was continuing normally, adding, “They tried to make the junta look like good people. The junta showed (the statements) as proof of their honesty,

INTERVENTION BY THE CJC

Epelbaum’s Canadian cousin, Charles Zaionz, chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress’

After being kept waiting for over a month, he said, they were shown a government-made film in which Resnizky and two of his colleagues — a rabbi and a banker whose names Zaionz did not recall — stated that Jewish

Meyer voiced the opinion that the DAIA was motivated partly by fear and partly by the belief that “if they didn’t make waves the disappeared people would possibly come back.” But, he said, this “complicity of

NEXT STORY