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News for Sociology of Religion--Sat Apr 19 06:58:19 EST 1997

  • EXHIBIT ON BYZANTIUM EXAMINES POWER OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY
    NEW YORK—John Erickson moved deliberately through ``The Glory of Byzantium'' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, taking in the full array of illuminated manuscripts, processional crosses, (New York Times) (*)

  • JEWS NOW HAIL ARGENTINA FOR ANTI-NAZI EFFORTS
    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Long criticized for harboring Nazi war criminals, Argentina is now winning praise from some Jewish groups for its efforts to track down Nazis who came here after World War (New York Times) (*)

  • No headline.
    SAN FRANCISCO—Last week in Afghanistan it was a shop keeper who broke the rules and sold food to a poor, hungry woman. He was publicly beaten, jailed and shut out of his shop for a week.  (*)

  • WOMEN WILL LEAD A LIBERATING EXODUS AT FEMINIST SEDER
    Although women have always been important in the Jewish faith, they traditionally have served only background roles during religious ceremonies, such as the Passover Seder.  (*)

  • EXHIBIT ON BYZANTIUM EXAMINES POWER OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY
    NEW YORK—John Erickson moved deliberately through ``The Glory of Byzantium'' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, taking in the full array of illuminated manuscripts, processional crosses, (New York Times) (*)

  • JEWS NOW HAIL ARGENTINA FOR ANTI-NAZI EFFORTS
    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Long criticized for harboring Nazi war criminals, Argentina is now winning praise from some Jewish groups for its efforts to track down Nazis who came here after World War (New York Times) (*)

  • No headline.
    SAN FRANCISCO—Last week in Afghanistan it was a shop keeper who broke the rules and sold food to a poor, hungry woman. He was publicly beaten, jailed and shut out of his shop for a week.  (*)

  • `WE ARE ... BUILDING SOME BRIDGES'
    A bomb threat didn't stop black and white evangelicals from moving forward with a plan for racial healing last week during the National Black Evangelical Association convention in Dallas.  (*)

  • IN AN AGE OF FINGER FOOD, A NEW EMILY POST
    Who needs it? Not you! You know which fork to use when. You never crook your pinkie when holding a cup. And you're always on time for appointments. Etiquette? Get serious! (New York Times)

  • ZEROUAL ALLY FORMS PARTY AHEAD OF POLL



    EXHIBIT ON BYZANTIUM EXAMINES POWER OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

    By PETER STEINFELS<

    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<

    NEW YORK—John Erickson moved deliberately through ``The Glory of Byzantium'' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, taking in the full array of illuminated manuscripts, processional crosses, small and large mosaics, fragments of frescoes, painted icons, gold and enamelled medallions and ivory carvings.

    But what Erickson, a professor of canon law and church history at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., lingered over longest were works with a special resonance for the Holy Week that begins Sunday and culminates April 27 when Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter.

    Byzantium was the heartland of Orthodox Christianity, and much of this art was created in the centuries when the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity, long drifting apart, formally divided.

    Here was a 13th-century Byzantine manuscript with a richly colored illumination of Jesus raising Lazarus, a prefiguring in the New Testament of Jesus' own resurrection.

    Nearby, several other illuminated volumes were opened to the ``Anastasis''—the scene that for Orthodox Christians represents the power of the resurrection, with Christ breaking free from the gates of hell and rescuing Adam and other Biblical figures from the clutches of the devil.

    There were carved ivory icons of the crucifixion, of Jesus being gently taken from the cross, of his entombment. ``You see how popular these scenes are,'' Erickson said. ``They convey a quiet grief and mourning without any extravagance about it, a serenity contrasting with some late medieval German renderings of the same scenes that are almost violent in their emotions.''

    Not violent but less serene was the large 12th-century icon of the Man of Sorrows. ``Something of an understatement,'' Erickson said when he read the wall card next to it (``meant to compel a deep emotional response'').

    The painted panel, with the Virgin portrayed on the reverse, shows the head and shoulders of the crucified Jesus in rhythmic stylized lines. His head is fallen to one side; his eyes are closed; he is utterly broken. Yet on the cross above him is the inscription ``King of Glory.''

    This was the image of the humiliated Christ that the Orthodox Church reveres during Holy Week, Erickson said, even while it reads Scriptural passages exalting Christ as the cherished bridegroom _ ``a juxtaposition of images that breaks down our preconceptions about beauty and power,'' he said.

    Some works Erickson greeted like old friends. The Harbaville Triptych, carved in translucent ivory, as well as a well-known 12th-century mosaic icon of Jesus' mountaintop Transfiguration that was executed with grain-like cubes of glistening marble, lapis lazuli, colored glass, and gilded bronze, were familiar to Erickson from the Louvre.

    Other works in the exhibit, which runs through July 6, elicited surprise and curiosity.

    ``I've never seen anything quite like that before,'' he said, standing before a small silver icon from 11th-century Georgia that rendered in low relief three interlocking scenes: Joseph and Nicodemus taking Jesus down from the cross, the two men preparing his half-shrouded body for burial, and finally an imposing angel announcing the resurrection to two astonished women at the tomb while Roman guards sprawl sleeping on the ground.

    A convert to Orthodoxy while a student at Harvard in 1963, Erickson said that he grew up with little Christian imagery beyond occasional pictures of Christ ``as a kind of Norwegian fisherman.''

    He was drawn to Orthodoxy, he said, partly through friends, partly through study, but above all through the actual experience, especially of Holy Week and Easter.

    It was an experience he described as ``enveloping, extending to everything one is doing, the food one eats and the hours one keeps.'' It was an approach to the human being that he called ``holistic and kinesthetic,'' an approach that he found echoed in the exhibition.

    ``Unlike a great deal of Christianity emphasizing the word, the sense of hearing or only of sight,'' he said, ``Byzantium appealed to practically all the senses—to smell through incense, to taste and to touch,'' as icons were carried and kissed.

    ``One often thinks of Byzantine art as otherworldly, as static and hieratic,'' Erickson said, an impression reinforced two decades ago by the hugely popular ``Age of Spirituality'' exhibition, also at the Metropolitan Museum, of Byzantine art from the fourth to sixth centuries.

    ``The `Age of Spirituality' was impressive in many ways, but some of that art had more in common with a Neo-Platonic, world-fleeing, dualistic spirituality,'' Erickson said.

    ``The emperor or some other blessed person would be depicted with uplifted eyes suggesting immediate access to the divine. That art was less human and worldly than this middle Byzantine art, but not the more Christian for it.''

    Erickson, who is also associate dean for academic affairs at St. Vladimir's, praised ``The Glory of Byzantium'' for expanding these widely held notions of Byzantine art and of Orthodox faith.

    ``What is remarkable about this middle Byzantine period, this Second Golden Age from the ninth century to the 13th,'' he said, ``is that it is so expressively human, not exaggerated or escapist, but very world affirming.

    ``So many figures here are this-worldly, clearly recognizable human beings. And what is exciting is the extent to which the human can be infused with the divine.

    ``Human beings are called to something transcending this world,'' he said, and not only humans.

    Whether in portraying Christ's Transfiguration or the Anastasis, where Christ raises Adam and Eve, or simply in the exquisite craftsmanship, ``the emphasis is on restoring all of creation,'' Erickson said, ``on the value and importance of matter, the capacity of matter for being suffused with divine energy.

    ``The cypresses, the treatment of vegetation,'' he said, ``it is all called to something beyond the purely natural. This world does not have its end, its goal, in itself.''

    [Return to Top]


    JEWS NOW HAIL ARGENTINA FOR ANTI-NAZI EFFORTS

    By CALVIN SIMS<

    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Long criticized for harboring Nazi war criminals, Argentina is now winning praise from some Jewish groups for its efforts to track down Nazis who came here after World War II and to locate stolen assets they may have brought with them.

    Ruben Beraja, a prominent Argentine Jew who is a member of the Volcker Committee, which is investigating Nazi gold deposits in Europe, said the government of President Carlos Saul Menem deserved credit for helping bring Nazi war criminals to justice and uncovering their booty.

    ``This government wants to make a clear break with the Argentina of the past, which is seen as having been pro-Nazi, or a haven to Nazism,'' Beraja said in an interview. ``Mr. Menem has assured me of his personal support and that of his administration that we investigate this issue to the very end and to let him know if we have any problems.''

    Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is devoted to exposing Nazi war criminals, said Argentina needed to put more ``punch'' into its investigations, but he applauded the Menem government for taking the initial steps.

    Such praise comes at a time when many European countries have come under sharp criticism for refusing to cooperate with Jewish groups and international commissions that are seeking to locate gold, bank deposits, property, artwork and other assets that the Nazis are believed to have stolen from Jews during the war.

    Since he took office in 1990, Menem has sought to distance himself from past Argentine governments, including that of Gen. Juan Peron, that welcomed scores of Nazis fleeing Europe after World War II and sheltered them from prosecution.

    In 1992, Menem announced that Argentina was ``paying its debt to humanity'' by releasing all secret files on Nazis who fled here after the war. After studying hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, investigators said they had uncovered over 1,000 names of suspected Nazi war criminals who found refuge in Argentina, many times more than had previously been documented.

    In 1995, the government approved the extradition to Italy of Erich Priebke, a former SS captain who lived in Bariloche, an Andean resort town, for 50 years and admitted taking part in the killings of 335 Italian civilians, many of whom were Jews. Priebke is currently on trial in Italy for war crimes.

    Last year, the Argentine government provided Jewish investigators with bank records that may help them track down transfers of gold, cash and artwork to Argentina by Nazi agents. Thursday, Menem announced the creation of an international truth committee to insure that investigators have access to all the information they need.

    ``We are taking these steps because we want to satisfy our debt to society for the sins that Argentina committed in accepting the Nazis after the war,'' Foreign Minister Guido di Tella said. ``We are also taking these steps because Argentina has become a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society and we owe it to our Jewish citizens to set the record straight.''

    So far the government bank records have not shown exactly what assets the Nazis brought to Argentina, leading local Jewish investigators to conclude that Argentina, like Spain and Portugal, may have been a transit route for cash, artwork and other assets looted by the Nazis.

    ``Argentina didn't offer the kind of political and economic stability that would have made it attractive for this money to stay, but it might have laundered it,'' said Beraja, who is the vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

    But an initial review of government bank records shows that in 1943 Argentina received about $150 million from German companies like Krupp and Thyssen that transferred the money legally to Argentine companies.

    ``Even if the money had not been looted from Jews, it does make the point about the kind of relationship that Argentina had with Nazi Germany, and it's important for people to know this,'' Beraja said.

    Argentine government records are notoriously poorly organized and incomplete.

    ``Contrary to widespread belief, there are no files marked `Nazism,' '' Beraja said. ``In fact, files aren't divided into any kind of category and researchers have to investigate on a file-by-file basis—in the Foreign Ministry, at Congress, in the Ministry of Interior—the years which are of interest to us.''

    Still, Hier of the Wiesenthal Center said that if government bank files do not show assets that were transferred by individual Nazis, the Menem government should give researchers the authority to examine the records of private banks, which may have received deposits.

    ``It cannot be ignored that major war criminals ended up in Argentina because they knew they could expect a good welcome and security there,'' Hier said. ``It's logical to us that these Nazis brought wealth with them, and there must be an accounting of that wealth somewhere. We want Argentina to put more punch into investigation to help us find it.''

    Di Tella said that while Argentina had worked hard to dispel the notion that it continued to sympathize with Nazis, some sectors of society would not accept the fact that there might not be ``a smoking gun'' in the archives.

    ``If we announced today that we had found records showing Nazis had deposited $10 million in Argentine banks here, someone would say that the number should be $100 million and we are hiding the rest,'' he said.

    The Menem government's efforts to break with Argentina's pro-Nazi past have often been undermined by attacks on local Jewish targets in recent years. The attacks have fueled the perception that Argentina remains a country hostile to Jews.

    In 1994, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was blown up. Two years later, another terrorist bomb exploded at the country's main Jewish cultural center, killing 90 people. And last year, vandals desecrated graves at three Jewish cemeteries, scribbling swastikas on tombstones.

    [Return to Top]


    By STEPHANIE SALTER<

    c.1997 San Francisco Examiner<

    SAN FRANCISCO—Last week in Afghanistan it was a shop keeper who broke the rules and sold food to a poor, hungry woman. He was publicly beaten, jailed and shut out of his shop for a week.

    In January, it was a Kabul woman who broke the dress code by neglecting to cover her ankles while in a market place in the Afghan capital. She was publicly beaten with a thick belt by militia.

    In February, 60 more Kabul women were caught and punished by the ``religious police'' for appearing in public ``without a legal reason'' during the Islamic holy days of Ramadan. Last autumn, a man and woman in Kandahar were stoned to death in front of their respective 10 children for committing adultery.

    One of those where-is-it-exactly countries to many Americans, Afghanistan has been a hellhole of war for the past two decades. More than 1.5 million Afghans (out of a population of about 16 million) have been killed. Some 10,000 villages have been badly damaged.

    Most of the fighting occurred between Islamic rebels and a Soviet-imposed government the rebels drove out of power in 1992. Since then, alliances and factions have battled for control.

    An army led by former Islamic theology students—the Taliban _ is winning. They rule 21 of the nation's 32 provinces and the capital city of Kabul.

    Ultrafundamentalist Muslims, the Taliban has imposed the strictest, most primitive interpretation of Islamic law upon the populations it controls. Adultery is punished by stoning, theft by amputation. Males are required to wear beards and worship openly five times each day.

    Women and girls, however, have suffered the most dramatic prohibitions. In the name of ``esteem'' and ``protection,'' the Taliban outlawed women from working. Girls' schools were closed. Interaction between unmarried or unrelated males and females is illegal.

    A shroud-like body covering, the burqa, is mandated for all females who appear in public.

    In January, during the holy days of Ramadan, the Taliban Department for Promoting Virtue and Suppressing Vice warned that women could leave their houses—accompanied by husbands or other male relatives—for only a handful of reasons. Among them: to attend funerals or make hospital visits.

    The official warning said: ``Our esteemed sisters are asked not to go out of their house without a legal excuse. In case they have to leave their houses, they should be veiled from the head to below the ankle.''

    A deputy of the virtue department added that women ``should not just wander around in the markets and parks.... If a man sees a woman during Ramadan, he will be provoked.''

    And if a man is provoked, a woman is punished.

    ``We are fighting against Muslims who have gone wrong,'' Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Umar explained.

    After the Kandahar stonings, a Taliban investigator, Mohammed Wali, said: ``When I see this kind of thing, I am very happy because it means that the rule of Islam is being implemented.''

    Last October, only days after the Taliban took over Kabul, the United Nations formally admonished the group for violating Afghan women's civil rights. Then-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali warned of ``serious repercussions on the ability of the United Nations to deliver programs of relief and reconstruction'' to the war-ravaged nation.

    Less than a month later, Taliban soldiers gave the U.N. an answer of sorts when they kept female Red Cross workers from carrying out war relief duties in the agency's Kabul compound.

    The soldiers said they would hang any women who showed up.

    ^Stephanie Salter is an Examiner columnist.@

    < NYT-04-17-97 1534EDT<

    [Return to Top]



    WOMEN WILL LEAD A LIBERATING EXODUS AT FEMINIST SEDER

    c.1997 Fort Worth Star-Telegram=

    Although women have always been important in the Jewish faith, they traditionally have served only background roles during religious ceremonies, such as the Passover Seder.

    But a women's Seder to be held in Dallas and in other parts of the country next week will give a definite feminist twist to the story of the exodus of the Israelite slaves from Egypt.

    ``Women will be sort of celebrating their own liberation at this Seder,'' said Joel D. Brooks, executive director of the American Jewish Congress' Southwest Region, sponsor of the Dallas Seder, which began four years ago.

    Participants in the Seder will name their mothers and grandmothers, aunts or other women who have been significant in their lives.

    Rabbi Nancy Kasten, who led the women's Seder last year, said the rituals are part of a trend to rediscover major roles of women in history and culture.

    ``Like in many area of our society, women's contributions have been overlooked or belittled,'' said Kasten, associate chaplain at Southern Methodist University.

    Connie Kallenberg, a member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington, Texas, is helping plan the women's Seder, which will be held at 6 p.m. CDT Thursday at Dallas' Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northhaven Road.

    Rabbi Elisabeth Stern, associate rabbi of Temple Shalom in Dallas, will lead the Seder, which is open to the public. Tickets are $20.

    Although generally accepted, the feminist Seders, which originated in New York and California a little over a decade ago, can be misunderstood, Kallenberg said.

    ``It's kind of controversial,'' she said. ``I took a friend last year and she went home. She thought it was anti-male.''

    But Kallenberg, who will also take part in more traditional Seders, said the ceremony is merely an affirmation of women and the major roles they have played in religious history.

    ``We are not male-bashing,'' she said.

    Traditional Passover foods will be served, such as bitter herbs to represent the pain of slavery and unleavened bread—matzo _ symbolizing that the Israelites fled Egypt so quickly that they did not have time for their bread to rise before baking it.

    Also, there will be readings from the Haggadah, the Passover prayer book.

    The Seder hand-washing ritual will be a celebration of togetherness. Each woman will wash the hands of the woman sitting next to her.

    Female biblical characters not ordinarily mentioned in the Seder readings will be included. The women's Seder begins with sipping a cup of wine honoring Shifra and Pu'ah, the midwives who the Bible states saved the lives of Israelite infants.

    ``On this night set aside to commemorate our people's birth of freedom, we drink the first cup in remembrance of these two righteous women,'' the ritual proclaims. ``We are sure these God-fearing women acted on their own sense of moral obligation and delivered our people from possible extinction.''

    Then a song to Miriam, the sister of Moses, is sung as women gather in a circle and dance.

    ``Miriam danced across the sea with former slaves, singing songs of freedom,'' the ritual declares. ``Miriam was a woman of vision. When others saw a chasm, Miriam became a bridge.''

    ``Traditional Jewish rituals pretty much leave women out,'' said Rachel Bortnick, who attended the feminist Seder last year in Dallas. ``This Seder is paying homage to women.''

    _

    (Visit the Star-Telegram's online services on the World Wide Web: www.startext.net; www.arlington.net; and www.netarrant.net)

    [Return to Top]


    EXHIBIT ON BYZANTIUM EXAMINES POWER OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

    By PETER STEINFELS<

    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<

    NEW YORK—John Erickson moved deliberately through ``The Glory of Byzantium'' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, taking in the full array of illuminated manuscripts, processional crosses, small and large mosaics, fragments of frescoes, painted icons, gold and enamelled medallions and ivory carvings.

    But what Erickson, a professor of canon law and church history at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., lingered over longest were works with a special resonance for the Holy Week that begins Sunday and culminates April 27 when Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter.

    Byzantium was the heartland of Orthodox Christianity, and much of this art was created in the centuries when the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity, long drifting apart, formally divided.

    Here was a 13th-century Byzantine manuscript with a richly colored illumination of Jesus raising Lazarus, a prefiguring in the New Testament of Jesus' own resurrection.

    Nearby, several other illuminated volumes were opened to the ``Anastasis''—the scene that for Orthodox Christians represents the power of the resurrection, with Christ breaking free from the gates of hell and rescuing Adam and other Biblical figures from the clutches of the devil.

    There were carved ivory icons of the crucifixion, of Jesus being gently taken from the cross, of his entombment. ``You see how popular these scenes are,'' Erickson said. ``They convey a quiet grief and mourning without any extravagance about it, a serenity contrasting with some late medieval German renderings of the same scenes that are almost violent in their emotions.''

    Not violent but less serene was the large 12th-century icon of the Man of Sorrows. ``Something of an understatement,'' Erickson said when he read the wall card next to it (``meant to compel a deep emotional response'').

    The painted panel, with the Virgin portrayed on the reverse, shows the head and shoulders of the crucified Jesus in rhythmic stylized lines. His head is fallen to one side; his eyes are closed; he is utterly broken. Yet on the cross above him is the inscription ``King of Glory.''

    This was the image of the humiliated Christ that the Orthodox Church reveres during Holy Week, Erickson said, even while it reads Scriptural passages exalting Christ as the cherished bridegroom _ ``a juxtaposition of images that breaks down our preconceptions about beauty and power,'' he said.

    Some works Erickson greeted like old friends. The Harbaville Triptych, carved in translucent ivory, as well as a well-known 12th-century mosaic icon of Jesus' mountaintop Transfiguration that was executed with grain-like cubes of glistening marble, lapis lazuli, colored glass, and gilded bronze, were familiar to Erickson from the Louvre.

    Other works in the exhibit, which runs through July 6, elicited surprise and curiosity.

    ``I've never seen anything quite like that before,'' he said, standing before a small silver icon from 11th-century Georgia that rendered in low relief three interlocking scenes: Joseph and Nicodemus taking Jesus down from the cross, the two men preparing his half-shrouded body for burial, and finally an imposing angel announcing the resurrection to two astonished women at the tomb while Roman guards sprawl sleeping on the ground.

    A convert to Orthodoxy while a student at Harvard in 1963, Erickson said that he grew up with little Christian imagery beyond occasional pictures of Christ ``as a kind of Norwegian fisherman.''

    He was drawn to Orthodoxy, he said, partly through friends, partly through study, but above all through the actual experience, especially of Holy Week and Easter.

    It was an experience he described as ``enveloping, extending to everything one is doing, the food one eats and the hours one keeps.'' It was an approach to the human being that he called ``holistic and kinesthetic,'' an approach that he found echoed in the exhibition.

    ``Unlike a great deal of Christianity emphasizing the word, the sense of hearing or only of sight,'' he said, ``Byzantium appealed to practically all the senses—to smell through incense, to taste and to touch,'' as icons were carried and kissed.

    ``One often thinks of Byzantine art as otherworldly, as static and hieratic,'' Erickson said, an impression reinforced two decades ago by the hugely popular ``Age of Spirituality'' exhibition, also at the Metropolitan Museum, of Byzantine art from the fourth to sixth centuries.

    ``The `Age of Spirituality' was impressive in many ways, but some of that art had more in common with a Neo-Platonic, world-fleeing, dualistic spirituality,'' Erickson said.

    ``The emperor or some other blessed person would be depicted with uplifted eyes suggesting immediate access to the divine. That art was less human and worldly than this middle Byzantine art, but not the more Christian for it.''

    Erickson, who is also associate dean for academic affairs at St. Vladimir's, praised ``The Glory of Byzantium'' for expanding these widely held notions of Byzantine art and of Orthodox faith.

    ``What is remarkable about this middle Byzantine period, this Second Golden Age from the ninth century to the 13th,'' he said, ``is that it is so expressively human, not exaggerated or escapist, but very world affirming.

    ``So many figures here are this-worldly, clearly recognizable human beings. And what is exciting is the extent to which the human can be infused with the divine.

    ``Human beings are called to something transcending this world,'' he said, and not only humans.

    Whether in portraying Christ's Transfiguration or the Anastasis, where Christ raises Adam and Eve, or simply in the exquisite craftsmanship, ``the emphasis is on restoring all of creation,'' Erickson said, ``on the value and importance of matter, the capacity of matter for being suffused with divine energy.

    ``The cypresses, the treatment of vegetation,'' he said, ``it is all called to something beyond the purely natural. This world does not have its end, its goal, in itself.''

    [Return to Top]


    JEWS NOW HAIL ARGENTINA FOR ANTI-NAZI EFFORTS

    By CALVIN SIMS<

    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Long criticized for harboring Nazi war criminals, Argentina is now winning praise from some Jewish groups for its efforts to track down Nazis who came here after World War II and to locate stolen assets they may have brought with them.

    Ruben Beraja, a prominent Argentine Jew who is a member of the Volcker Committee, which is investigating Nazi gold deposits in Europe, said the government of President Carlos Saul Menem deserved credit for helping bring Nazi war criminals to justice and uncovering their booty.

    ``This government wants to make a clear break with the Argentina of the past, which is seen as having been pro-Nazi, or a haven to Nazism,'' Beraja said in an interview. ``Mr. Menem has assured me of his personal support and that of his administration that we investigate this issue to the very end and to let him know if we have any problems.''

    Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is devoted to exposing Nazi war criminals, said Argentina needed to put more ``punch'' into its investigations, but he applauded the Menem government for taking the initial steps.

    Such praise comes at a time when many European countries have come under sharp criticism for refusing to cooperate with Jewish groups and international commissions that are seeking to locate gold, bank deposits, property, artwork and other assets that the Nazis are believed to have stolen from Jews during the war.

    Since he took office in 1990, Menem has sought to distance himself from past Argentine governments, including that of Gen. Juan Peron, that welcomed scores of Nazis fleeing Europe after World War II and sheltered them from prosecution.

    In 1992, Menem announced that Argentina was ``paying its debt to humanity'' by releasing all secret files on Nazis who fled here after the war. After studying hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, investigators said they had uncovered over 1,000 names of suspected Nazi war criminals who found refuge in Argentina, many times more than had previously been documented.

    In 1995, the government approved the extradition to Italy of Erich Priebke, a former SS captain who lived in Bariloche, an Andean resort town, for 50 years and admitted taking part in the killings of 335 Italian civilians, many of whom were Jews. Priebke is currently on trial in Italy for war crimes.

    Last year, the Argentine government provided Jewish investigators with bank records that may help them track down transfers of gold, cash and artwork to Argentina by Nazi agents. Thursday, Menem announced the creation of an international truth committee to insure that investigators have access to all the information they need.

    ``We are taking these steps because we want to satisfy our debt to society for the sins that Argentina committed in accepting the Nazis after the war,'' Foreign Minister Guido di Tella said. ``We are also taking these steps because Argentina has become a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society and we owe it to our Jewish citizens to set the record straight.''

    So far the government bank records have not shown exactly what assets the Nazis brought to Argentina, leading local Jewish investigators to conclude that Argentina, like Spain and Portugal, may have been a transit route for cash, artwork and other assets looted by the Nazis.

    ``Argentina didn't offer the kind of political and economic stability that would have made it attractive for this money to stay, but it might have laundered it,'' said Beraja, who is the vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

    But an initial review of government bank records shows that in 1943 Argentina received about $150 million from German companies like Krupp and Thyssen that transferred the money legally to Argentine companies.

    ``Even if the money had not been looted from Jews, it does make the point about the kind of relationship that Argentina had with Nazi Germany, and it's important for people to know this,'' Beraja said.

    Argentine government records are notoriously poorly organized and incomplete.

    ``Contrary to widespread belief, there are no files marked `Nazism,' '' Beraja said. ``In fact, files aren't divided into any kind of category and researchers have to investigate on a file-by-file basis—in the Foreign Ministry, at Congress, in the Ministry of Interior—the years which are of interest to us.''

    Still, Hier of the Wiesenthal Center said that if government bank files do not show assets that were transferred by individual Nazis, the Menem government should give researchers the authority to examine the records of private banks, which may have received deposits.

    ``It cannot be ignored that major war criminals ended up in Argentina because they knew they could expect a good welcome and security there,'' Hier said. ``It's logical to us that these Nazis brought wealth with them, and there must be an accounting of that wealth somewhere. We want Argentina to put more punch into investigation to help us find it.''

    Di Tella said that while Argentina had worked hard to dispel the notion that it continued to sympathize with Nazis, some sectors of society would not accept the fact that there might not be ``a smoking gun'' in the archives.

    ``If we announced today that we had found records showing Nazis had deposited $10 million in Argentine banks here, someone would say that the number should be $100 million and we are hiding the rest,'' he said.

    The Menem government's efforts to break with Argentina's pro-Nazi past have often been undermined by attacks on local Jewish targets in recent years. The attacks have fueled the perception that Argentina remains a country hostile to Jews.

    In 1994, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was blown up. Two years later, another terrorist bomb exploded at the country's main Jewish cultural center, killing 90 people. And last year, vandals desecrated graves at three Jewish cemeteries, scribbling swastikas on tombstones.

    [Return to Top]


    By STEPHANIE SALTER<

    c.1997 San Francisco Examiner<

    SAN FRANCISCO—Last week in Afghanistan it was a shop keeper who broke the rules and sold food to a poor, hungry woman. He was publicly beaten, jailed and shut out of his shop for a week.

    In January, it was a Kabul woman who broke the dress code by neglecting to cover her ankles while in a market place in the Afghan capital. She was publicly beaten with a thick belt by militia.

    In February, 60 more Kabul women were caught and punished by the ``religious police'' for appearing in public ``without a legal reason'' during the Islamic holy days of Ramadan. Last autumn, a man and woman in Kandahar were stoned to death in front of their respective 10 children for committing adultery.

    One of those where-is-it-exactly countries to many Americans, Afghanistan has been a hellhole of war for the past two decades. More than 1.5 million Afghans (out of a population of about 16 million) have been killed. Some 10,000 villages have been badly damaged.

    Most of the fighting occurred between Islamic rebels and a Soviet-imposed government the rebels drove out of power in 1992. Since then, alliances and factions have battled for control.

    An army led by former Islamic theology students—the Taliban _ is winning. They rule 21 of the nation's 32 provinces and the capital city of Kabul.

    Ultrafundamentalist Muslims, the Taliban has imposed the strictest, most primitive interpretation of Islamic law upon the populations it controls. Adultery is punished by stoning, theft by amputation. Males are required to wear beards and worship openly five times each day.

    Women and girls, however, have suffered the most dramatic prohibitions. In the name of ``esteem'' and ``protection,'' the Taliban outlawed women from working. Girls' schools were closed. Interaction between unmarried or unrelated males and females is illegal.

    A shroud-like body covering, the burqa, is mandated for all females who appear in public.

    In January, during the holy days of Ramadan, the Taliban Department for Promoting Virtue and Suppressing Vice warned that women could leave their houses—accompanied by husbands or other male relatives—for only a handful of reasons. Among them: to attend funerals or make hospital visits.

    The official warning said: ``Our esteemed sisters are asked not to go out of their house without a legal excuse. In case they have to leave their houses, they should be veiled from the head to below the ankle.''

    A deputy of the virtue department added that women ``should not just wander around in the markets and parks.... If a man sees a woman during Ramadan, he will be provoked.''

    And if a man is provoked, a woman is punished.

    ``We are fighting against Muslims who have gone wrong,'' Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Umar explained.

    After the Kandahar stonings, a Taliban investigator, Mohammed Wali, said: ``When I see this kind of thing, I am very happy because it means that the rule of Islam is being implemented.''

    Last October, only days after the Taliban took over Kabul, the United Nations formally admonished the group for violating Afghan women's civil rights. Then-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali warned of ``serious repercussions on the ability of the United Nations to deliver programs of relief and reconstruction'' to the war-ravaged nation.

    Less than a month later, Taliban soldiers gave the U.N. an answer of sorts when they kept female Red Cross workers from carrying out war relief duties in the agency's Kabul compound.

    The soldiers said they would hang any women who showed up.

    ^Stephanie Salter is an Examiner columnist.@

    < NYT-04-17-97 1534EDT<

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    `WE ARE ... BUILDING SOME BRIDGES'

    c.1997 Fort Worth Star-Telegram=

    A bomb threat didn't stop black and white evangelicals from moving forward with a plan for racial healing last week during the National Black Evangelical Association convention in Dallas.

    ``Someone called and said they were going to blow up the hotel,'' said Aaron M. Hamlin, president of the black evangelical group. ``They identified themselves as part of the KKK.''

    Nothing happened, and Hamlin and other leaders met with Don Argue, president of the predominantly white National Association of Evangelicals, and agreed to future joint meetings of the two bodies.

    ``We likely will meet with the National Association of Evangelicals in 1999,'' Hamlin said.

    Under the theme of ``Resurrection,'' the 34th annual convention included workshops on helping the needy in the inner city and seminars on topics ranging from ``Black Presence in the Bible'' to ``The Psychology of Oppression and Reconciliation.''

    The NBEA, which includes representatives of about 100 denominations, decided against a proposal to hold its 1998 convention next March at the same time as the white evangelical group holds its convention in Orlando, Fla.

    But that doesn't mean the two groups aren't moving closer together, Hamlin said. They decided against a joint meeting next year because more time was needed to get hotel and meeting space. Also, Hamlin wanted the black organization to have equal participation in planning the joint meeting for 1999.

    An even more impressive project that moved forward at the Dallas meeting is a national ``summit'' in which key leaders of black and white denominations, seminaries, colleges, publishing organizations and other religious groups will get together—either next year or in 1999.

    Argue, leader of the white evangelicals, has been offering aggressive leadership for the summit.

    He called a convocation in Chicago in January 1995 in which 75 black leaders and 75 white leaders met and formed a reconciliation task force.

    Argue, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, knelt before African-American church leaders and asked for forgiveness for himself and other white evangelicals for the sins of racism.

    ``We white evangelicals have a tremendous lot of catching up to do on racial issues,'' Argue said last week after speaking at the Dallas meeting. ``The problem with the white community is that they are passive about racial reconciliation because they've never been the recipient of racism.''

    When the civil-rights movement of the 1960s was under way, Argue said, most evangelicals either were silent or were critical of the efforts of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

    But they are no longer silent, said Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action, who attended the Dallas convention on his way to a Texas speaking engagement.

    ``I think it's true to say that for the first time in this century, white evangelicals are serious about the issue of racism,'' said Sider, whose organization has long urged evangelical groups to address poverty and racism.

    Sider said that many evangelical groups are becoming involved in racial healing. He cited Promise Keepers, which is making major efforts to get blacks involved with the men's organization; the Southern Baptist Convention's apology for racism; and the Christian Coalition's moves to rebuild burned black churches and offer assistance in poor inner-city neighborhoods.

    One of the more dramatic examples of new harmony among black and white evangelicals came in 1994 in Memphis, Tenn., when the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America abolished its all-white national organization and established a new one with equal representation by African-Americans.

    Divisions between white and black evangelicals go back to 1963, when the National Black Evangelical Association held its first organizational meeting.

    African-American evangelicals then were a part of the National Association of Evangelicals, but they formed their own group after members of the mostly white organization were lukewarm about getting involved in the then-burgeoning civil-rights movement, Hamlin said.

    ``What is new about this is that after 34 years there is greater toleration and acceptance on both sides,'' Hamlin said. ``We are finally building some bridges toward each other.''

    (Jim Jones is the religion editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit the Star-Telegram's online services on the World Wide Web: www.startext.net; www.arlington.net; and www.netarrant.net)

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    IN AN AGE OF FINGER FOOD, A NEW EMILY POST

    By ENID NEMY<

    c.1997 N.Y. Times News Service<

    Who needs it? Not you! You know which fork to use when. You never crook your pinkie when holding a cup. And you're always on time for appointments. Etiquette? Get serious!

    That attitude is likely to give a high priestess of manners a hissy fit. Most people, it seems, haven't a clue what etiquette means. Etiquette, in the 1990s, is about niceties like not cutting off motorists when switching lanes, or not swatting anyone with your backpack on the subway.

    ``Etiquette is a code of behavior based on consideration and thoughtfulness, and it's a fallacy that only certain people need it,'' said Peggy Post, a great-granddaughter-in-law of Emily Post, the doyenne of the etiquette gurus who for almost eight decades has stood for what's proper in social behavior. Peggy Post has inherited the legacy: She has just updated ``Emily Post's Etiquette'' for the 75th-anniversary edition, which will be published by HarperCollins early next month.

    ``The whole thing about etiquette is to make life easier,'' Mrs. Post said, ``not to make it more formal or rigid. Everyone needs guidelines.''

    What is also needed before tackling the new volume, the 16th edition, is a session or two of strength training. The new dos and don'ts of making life easier take up 845 tightly packed pages. Is it OK to cut lettuce in a salad? Yes. (The taboo started because knives used to become corroded from salad dressing.) Brides should perk up at this one: there's no reason why the bridegroom shouldn't do his share of note writing, and many more now do. As for e-mail, bear in mind that it's not necessarily private. Chat rooms? Remember that using capital letters means you're shouting.

    On the subject of personal questions: How do you answer someone who asks your age, assuming you don't want to reveal it? Mrs. Post _ who acknowledges that some people think the question rude but says, ``I'm in the middle''—advised answering with humor and offered some alternatives: ``Old enough to know better,'' ``49 and holding.''

    Her own age? ``I'm starting this about the same age as Emily did,'' she said cagily.

    Emily Post was 51 in 1922 when her first etiquette guide, ``Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage,'' was published. A society matron with homes in New York City, Tuxedo Park, N.Y., and Bar Harbor, Maine, she held rigidly to decorum.

    In a slight updating of the book in 1936, she advised her readers that ``the bachelor girl can on occasion go out alone with any unmarried man she knows well, if the theater she goes to, or the restaurant she dines at, be of conventional character.'' (This at a time when ``bachelor girls'' dated mere acquaintances, or so said a 1937 Saturday Evening Post article on Mrs. Post.) Divorced couples were known to speak to one another, but Mrs. Post took the position that when the divorced meet, they act like total strangers. She acknowledged ``the vanishing chaperone'' but sounded wistful.

    Nevertheless, by the following year a completely revised edition faced up to the times. Mrs. Post may have been a gentlewoman who favored the old school of manners, but she was also a businesswoman.

    When she died in 1960, she had completely revised the book nine times. It is still, according to a spokesman for the 435 Barnes & Noble stores nationwide, the best-selling book in its category.

    Reflecting the changes in society, Peggy Post's style is not quite as formal as Emily Post's, but neither is it as breezy or irreverent as many of the current crop of etiquette books. ``This is a reference book,'' she said firmly.

    Margaret ``Peggy'' Post, who was born in Washington, was a manager at Chemical Bank in New York when she met Allen Post, an investment counselor, in 1977.

    ``I was taken aback when I found out who he was,'' she recalled of their first dinner date, when a reference to another Emily prompted a mention of his great-grandmother. ``But he was such a natural, down-to-earth person I didn't think about it.'' They married in 1979 and live in Fairfield County, Conn.

    It wasn't until after raising two stepsons that she began her apprenticeship with the Emily Post Institute, the umbrella organization for the Emily Post franchise, which includes 13 books, a Good Housekeeping magazine column that has run for 25 years and etiquette lectures.

    Soon she was making appearances at bridal events with Elizabeth Post, her mother-in-law and Emily's granddaughter-in-law, who revised the book five times between 1965 and 1992. On Elizabeth's retirement in 1995, Peggy Post took over the Good Housekeeping column (``How do you eat a cherry tomato? Carefully!'') and started working on the new edition of the book. Elizabeth Post's daughter and three sons were ``not inclined'' to take on their mother's work, Peggy Post said.

    ``I've tried to make it more multicultural, more relevant,'' she said. There are lists of holy days for Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses and Jews; suggestions on the legal aspects of living together and how single mothers might deal with their children's questions on parentage, and advice on public displays of affection. (``Holding hands, affectionate greetings accompanied by a kiss on the cheek, or a quick hug, are perfectly acceptable in public. Passion is not.''). And a sign of the times: the word ``servant'' is out. It's now staff member or housekeeper.

    Also new is a section on telephone etiquette—consider call waiting!—and funeral etiquette: black is no longer de rigueur, and yearlong mourning has shrunk to three months ``or what one feels best with.''

    What to do when ethnic jokes are told? There's no need to laugh or silently support such a display of poor taste, Mrs. Post writes. ``You may quietly say: `I don't support what you're saying' or `I don't like jokes that belittle people,' or simply get up and take your leave.''

    Which brings up Judith Martin's theory that although there is still a long way to go, there has been a vast improvement in etiquette in this country since Emily Post's day. What's that again? This from the etiquette maven who wrote ``Miss Manners Rescues Civilization'' (Crown Publishers) and four other Miss Manners books?

    ``Racism and sexism no longer meet with social approval,'' she explained.

    What have racism and sexism to do with etiquette?

    ``Etiquette is for respect and dignity,'' she said. ``It is human social behavior.''

    And what about the general state of manners? Serious and alarming are two of the words used, but Mrs. Post, Ms. Martin and Letitia Baldrige, who has seven etiquette books under her belt, maintain nevertheless that the pendulum is swinging.

    Ms. Martin points out that more than a generation ago society went through a phase of deploring anything artificial and asked, Why can't people just behave naturally? Then, the reaction was, ``Everyone is so rude, so disgusting.''

    ``The kids who got away with it now know better,'' Ms. Martin said, ``and they're not going to let their children get away with it. I think etiquette is on the upswing.''

    Ms. Baldrige, whose latest etiquette offering is ``More Than Manners: Raising Today's Kids to Have Kind Manners and Good Hearts'' (Rawson), is also optimistic. ``I'm convinced the changing of the millennium is going to be a force for good,'' she said. ``I feel this way because young people are feeling restless and disturbed about the nastiness in their lives.''

    Mrs. Post concurred: ``There's a lot of discussion about people being rude and uncivil. They now want some control over their lives.''

    Sounding very much like Emily Post, she added, ``They are looking for a sense of order.''<

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    (c) FINANCIAL TIMES, SYNDICATION DAILY NEWS SERVICE.

    ZEROUAL ALLY FORMS PARTY AHEAD OF POLL

    By Roula Khalaf in London

    An ally of Algerian President Liamine Zeroual yesterday announced the formation of a political party ahead of legislative elections in May or June.

    Mr Abdelkader Bensalah, who heads the government-appointed National Transitional Council (CNT), said his new party, the National Democratic Rally, would draw support from union, veteran, peasant and women's associations. These organisations supported Mr Zeroual in 1995 presidential elections.

    Mr Bensalah stepped in to head the party after the murder last month of Mr Abdelhak Benhamouda, leader of Algeria's main union. Mr Benhamouda, also a Zeroual ally, had made public his plans to start a new party.

    The emergence of a ``presidential'' party is a clear sign of the disintegration of the National Liberation Front (FLN), the former ruling party which went into opposition in 1992, when elections the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) were about to win were cancelled by the army.

    The National Democratic Rally, by drawing on pro-Zeroual associations, aims to strip the FLN of much of its support.

    The FLN is already split between the pro-government leadership and the more respected anti-government reformist wing.

    The new party is also designed as a counter-weight to Hamas, the legal Islamist party which the government assumes will attract many former FIS supporters. The FIS, banned since 1992, is excluded from the upcoming elections.

    Hamas, considered a moderate Islamist party, has maintained an often cozy relationship with the army-backed government and is expected to emerge as a leading contender in the elections. Hamas' candidate won 25 per cent of the vote in the 1995 presidential elections, on the strength of FIS support.

    Hamas and Nahda, the other legal Islamist party, have been given two months to conform to Algeria's new laws, which aim to ban the use of religion in politics. The parties will have to strip any mention of religion from their titles and political programmes.

    After November's constitutional amendments diluted the powers of the next parliament, the CNT last week adopted a more restrictive law governing political parties and backed a voting system based on proportional representation.

    The measures are aimed at preventing a repeat of the first round of legislative elections in 1991 which saw the FIS poised to control the national assembly under the majority voting system. The army's cancellation of the second round of polling plunged the country into a cycle of violence which has claimed more than 50,000 lives.

    As the elections approach, the government has stepped up its campaign to root out Islamic militants. Criticised by Algerians for failing to prevent the recent wave of massacres and blasts blamed on FIS splinter groups, the army offensive has already led to 200 militants being killed this month, according to press reports.

    FINANCIAL TIMES

    END

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