The Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United States yesterday told four representatives of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith that his government does not have an official policy of anti-Semitism, according to one of the ADL officials present at the meeting.
Furthermore, the Ambassador, Antonio Jarquin, said that the three cases of confiscation of property of Nicaraguan Jews and the confiscation of the Managua synagogue by the government would be reviewed, ADL said.
The meeting between the ADL officials and the Nicaraguan envoy was initiated at the request of Jarquin following the publication by the ADL of a series of charges against the Nicaraguan government which includes the confiscation of Jewish owned properties and the forced exile of the Jewish community of some 50 persons.
The ADL officials who met with Jarquin included: 1. Barry Mehler, chairman of the ADL’s Latin American Committee; Abraham Foxman, ADL associate national director and director of the ADL national affairs division; Jess Hordes, associate director of the ADL’s Washington office; and Rabbi Morton Rosenthal, director of the ADL Latin American Affairs department.
Rosenthal, in an article prepared for publication in the ADL Bulletin, the agency’s publication, charged that along with the confiscation of Jewish property and forced exile of the Jewish community, the Sandinista government, which came to power in 1979, has been unresponsive to ADL appeals to end “these human rights violations” and permit the return of the Jews to their country. He wrote that the forced exodus of the Nicaraguan Jewish community was effected by subtle and direct threats or by forcible measures, two cases of which Rosenthal cited in the article.
At a press conference following the meeting with the Nicaraguan Ambassador, Rosenthal said that because the Nicaraguan government has not been responsive to past ADL requests for information on the plight of the Nicaraguan Jews, the ADL decided to publicize the issue.
While Jarquin said his government “had erred” in not providing a reply to ADL requests, according to Rosenthal, the Ambassador “said his government had no policy of anti-Semitism and asserted that three ministers of the government are of Jewish origin.”
Rosenthal said that the ADL officials explained that “if they are Catholic and not identified with the Jewish faith, their ability to trace their Jewish ancestory back one generation or more does not make them Jewish.” Rosenthal reported that the Ambassador said he will request that his government review the confiscation cases on which the ADL has submitted formal inquiries.
SYNAGOGUE USED FOR SOCIAL CLUB
Rosenthal reported at the press conference that the ADL has charged that the synagogue in Managua has been turned into a children’s social club, the exterior Stars of David covered with propaganda posters and the inside wall of the sanctuary have been plastered with anti-Zionist posters.
“As for the synagogue, ” Rosenthal said, “The Ambassador claimed it was the private property of the president of the Jewish community and was confiscated.” The president of the Jewish community, Avraham Gorn, was jailed after the Sandinista government took power. The ADL official said he told the Ambassador that the synagogue, Congregacion Israelita de Nicaragua, was the property of the Jewish community of Nicaragua.
“We also expressed concern about anti-Semitism in the press and urged that key government officials denounce anti-Semitism when it appears in whatever form and that the denunciation of anti-Semitism be publicized in Nicaragua,” Rosenthal said. The Managua daily, Nuevo Diario, July 1982, published a series of anti-Semitic articles which included a reference to the “synagogue of satan.”
Rosenthal continued; “We told the Ambassador, that the return of the synagogue to the Jewish community and the denunciation of anti-Semitism would be a sign to the Jews who left and also to the world Jewish community. ” According to Rosenthal, the Ambassador told the ADL officials that he was returning to Managua today and would “try to come back with some answers” when he returns in about 10 days.
Meanwhile, Rep. Michael Barnes (D. Md.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemispheric Affairs, called on the Sandinista government to cease its anti-Semitic practices and termed the government sponsored repression of the Nicaraguan Jewish community “absolutely inexcuseable.”
In a letter to Daniel Ortega Saavedra, the commander of the ruling junta in Nicaragua, Barnes warned: “If there is to be any hope of reconciliation between our two countries, Nicaragua’s Jewish citizens will have to be allowed to return to their homes. Property and their synagogue will have to be restored to them and your government will have to cease its campaign of harrassment.” He said the government sponsored anti-Semitic practices placed “Nicaragua on the some level as Argentina with respect to human rights.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.