Behind the Headlines a Nightmare Continues in Argentina
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Behind the Headlines a Nightmare Continues in Argentina

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Argentina’s night of terror and carnage is over at last–out the nightmare goes on. The dawn of democracy has brought no end to the agony of the relatives of the “desaparecidos,” the 9,300 (documented) to 30,000 (estimated) individuals, mainly youths, devoured by the

These “disappeared persons,” Argentina’s contribution to the 20th century’s chamber of horrors, were pulled from their beds at gunpoint in the dead of night, snatched off the streets into unmarked cars, hauled

The Jewish community, traumatized by the reign of terror, now seeks, like the majority of Argentinians, to put the past behind it, fearing that disinterring the human rights atrocities might endanger the fragile

While these charges and counter-charges have come into the open in Argentina since the reinstitution of democracy in that country, the information the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned regarding the heroic rescue of Jews

An estimated 10 percent of the desaparacidos were Jews–a proportion higher than the Jews’ one-and-a-quarter percent in the population. They included what the junta called “ideological criminals,” people in psychology, the social

Since the reign of terror began in 1976, a group of women has been marching every Thursday in front of the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires to demand an accounting on the fate of their disappeared children. They are known as the “Maders,” the Mothers of

Renee Epelbaum, a widow in her 60’s, is one of their leaders. Her three children are among the desaparecidos; none have ever been heard from or about since their abduction. Luis, who had been a medical student concerned about his country’s poor,

She is one of six mothers and one grandmother appearing in a recently released documentary on “Las Madres: the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,” which premiered at the Film Forum here. The film was produced and directed by Susana

Epelbaum, in an interview with the JTA during her recent visit to New York in connection with the film, said that Jewish desaparecidos “were not kidnapped as Jews, but it helped. The police were more suspicious of Jews. For them,

The junta, she continued, was “deeply anti-Semitic.” Jews in prison received three or four times the measure of torture as non-Jews. This has been substantiated by Amnesty International, former prisoner Jacobo Timerman, and, most

Epelbaum told the JTA that the DAIA, the representative body of Argentine Jewry, was not active in intervening with the authorities on behalf of Jewish desaparecidos (who became non-persons) and prisoners (whose incarceration was on record)–a

Rabbi Marshall Meyer, who served until recently as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth-El of Buenos Aires, was a founding member of the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, and visited

Both Epelbaum and Meyer told JTA that the DAIA urged Jewish communities outside the country to keep silent about the horrors. Epelbaum said she was told that World Jewish Congress affiliates did so because of the WJC policy that


Meyer also revealed the scope of the unofficial rescue work the Israelis were doing in

“We went from door to door, from house to house,” he continued, “persuading parents to let their children go with us. They had to leave at once.” Meyer would not disclose the route out of Argentina or the immediate country of destination. Dov Schmorak,

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