English News Archive

News between November 5, and October 28, reversely ordered by date (i.e.: the newest can be found on top). For recent news select English News.


November 5, 1998:

November 4, 1998:

November 3, 1998:

November 2, 1998:

November 1, 1998:

October 31, 1998:

October 30, 1998:

October 29, 1998:

October 28, 1998:


Bombs Found in N.H. Libraries

By David Tirrell-Wysocki
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, October 28, 1998; 6:27 p.m. EST

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Police on Wednesday urged city residents to look out for anyone acting unusual after bombs were discovered in two libraries in the heart of downtown.

The two bombs were discovered after a warning letter sent Tuesday to the Statehouse. One of the pipe bombs partially exploded, causing a fire at the Concord Public Library, and a second bomb was found nearby on steps outside the state library, across the street from the Statehouse.

``It's reasonable to conclude that there is a dangerous person out there and all of us should be on guard,'' Attorney General Philip McLaughlin said Wednesday.

``There is somebody out there who is disturbed,'' Concord police Chief William Halacy said. He asked city residents to stay calm and help find the bomber. ``We'd like to ask them to be vigilant to anything they see about them that may be unusual.''

Several government offices were closed Wednesday, and there were fewer library patrons. Extra police patrolled downtown.

``The person, as is evident from the activity last night, seems very upset with the government,'' McLaughlin said. However, he said he did not believe Gov. Jeanne Shaheen was a target.

Lauren Levin, spokeswoman for the Anti-Defamation League in Boston, a Jewish organization that tracks hate crimes and terrorism, said the letter was typical of anti-government activists.

``The anti-government rhetoric that was in the letter is classic hate group language,'' she said. ``In the 1990s bigots don't just hate blacks, Jews and gays. Now they hate the federal government, too.''

She would not say whether she had seen the letter, and authorities released little information about leads.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Suddenly, Yiddish Is in the Air

By Jerry Schwartz
AP National Writer
Thursday, October 29, 1998; 12:05 p.m. EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mandy Patinkin tells a story:

According to Jewish folklore, every baby has a teacher in the womb -- an angel who imparts all the world's knowledge. But at the moment of birth, the cherub touches the child's lip and takes it all away; we spend the rest of our lives relearning it all.

But occasionally, there is a glimmer of what was lost -- a sense of deja vu or a bolt of inspiration that seems to come from nowhere.

Maybe this is what happened to Patinkin. Maybe not. But it is as good an explanation as any of how Patinkin ended up on a Broadway stage seven times a week, singing songs in a tongue he does not know.

``Mayn Mirl!,'' he sings. ``Bakent hob ikh zikh mit mayn Mirl, ir nomen, vi gezang vi zise harfn klang ikh shever.''

This is Yiddish, the mamaloshen (mother tongue) of European Jewry, a language that was given up for dead when millions departed for the New World, and millions of others perished in the old one.

But amazingly, Yiddish music is enjoying a rebirth. And it involves more than just Patinkin's show, ``Mamaloshen,'' and its album.

There is ``Di grine katshke'' (``The Green Duck''), described as ``a menagerie of Yiddish animal songs for children.'' There is ``The Well,'' 20th-century Yiddish poetry put to music by Israeli chanteuse Chava Alberstein and the American band the Klezmatics.

And then there are scores of bands out there -- bands with names like Yid Vicious and Tennessee Schmaltz, better-known bands like the Klezmer Conservatory Band and the Andy Statman Orchestra -- that celebrate the music known as klezmer.

``I'm seeing something, all of a sudden, that's happening,'' says Itzik Becher, who represents both Ms. Alberstein and the Klezmatics.

Not that it's really ``all of a sudden.''

Yiddish was the lingua franca of European Jews. Mostly German (with contributions from Hebrew and many other languages), written with Hebrew letters, it was the language of the home, the marketplace and of celebrations. Yiddish culture reached its zenith in the 19th century, producing writers like Sholom Aleichem and Mendele Mokher Sforim.

Klezmer -- from the Hebrew ``klei zemer,'' instruments of song -- became the music of this golden age. It started with the violin, then the clarinet and the accordion and brass instruments; it lilted and frolicked, and later, it swung.

Yiddish popular music flourished in the early part of this century, in the theater and in vaudeville. Even then it was sometimes the stuff of nostalgia, sung by and to immigrants in an often harsh goldene medina, or golden land.

``Belz, my little town, Belz, my little home where I had so many dreams,'' sings Mandy Patinkin -- in Yiddish.

Patinkin, the Broadway star who won an Emmy award as Dr. Jeffrey Geiger, the heart surgeon on ``Chicago Hope,'' was raised in a home where Yiddish was a stranger -- ``I never heard any of it in my house, except maybe four or five words.'' That is not unusual at the end of the 20th century: The 1990 census found that only 213,064 Americans spoke Yiddish at home, sometimes or always.

Eight years ago, Patinkin's friend, producer Joe Papp, told him that it was his job to sing Yiddish popular music. ``So I promised Joe I would, and before I could take back the promise, Joe went to heaven and refused to let me out of the project,'' Patinkin writes in the liner notes.

The result is ``Mamaloshen.'' Most of the songs are sung entirely in Yiddish, without translation; they include standards like ``Belz,'' ``Raisins and Almonds'' and ``Rabbi Elimeylekh.''

But there are also songs written by American Jewish writers in English, translated into Yiddish: Paul Simon's ``American Tune,'' Irving Berlin's ``God Bless America'' and ``White Christmas,'' Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein's ``Maria'' (the Yiddish lyrics at the top of this story).

This is emotional, passionate stuff. ``There is a size to it, there's an over-the-topness to it that is just right,'' Patinkin says. ``I've been accused of being over the top all these years, and I finally found the right material.''

To Patinkin, you don't have to be Jewish -- or even understand Yiddish -- to love this music.

``It touches a certain nerve in us that has to do with heritage,'' he says. ``It's any people who were thrown off any ship.''

Most reviews have been rapturous, but not everyone agrees.

Wolf Krakowski, whose Yiddish-language album ``Transmigrations'' is a peculiar mix of country, blues and East European sensibility, derides Yiddish singers who ``couldn't order a sandwich in Yiddish when they walk off the stage.''

And Henry Sapoznik, who helped write the Yiddish translations for Patinkin, belittles ``Mamaloshen'' as an exercise in false nostalgia. ``Nostalgia is a funny and elusive thing because it is hard to be nostalgic for something that you didn't experience,'' he says. ``Most people trade on the sepia-toned world of Yiddish. We don't.''

By ``we'' he means the small group of musicians who, two decades ago, launched what is called the klezmer revival.

Sapoznik is a member of Kapelye, a pioneering Yiddish band that started in 1979; he also is a kind of eminence klez, running 16 KlezKamps over the years to spread the joys of Yiddish music to new generations.

When he started, klezmer was an endangered musical species. An assimilated American Jewry had turned its back on it, and the old men who played it were dying off. In Israel, Yiddish was pushed aside in favor of Hebrew, and Americans followed suit, Sapoznik says.

But a renewed interest in ethnic identity -- many credit Alex Haley's book ``Roots,'' about his own African heritage -- and the rising popularity of world music opened the way for a Yiddish comeback.

The challenge was to find a ``truth in Yiddish culture'' that was not based on nostalgia, says Loren Sklamberg, vocalist for the Klezmatics. ``I don't think you can make something live if all you're doing is remaking the past.''

To introduce children (and adults) to Yiddish, Sklamberg joined singer Paula Teitelbaum in producing ``Di grine katshke'' -- a charming collection of Yiddish songs about bees, rabbits, bears, goslings and more.

Sklamberg's other project, ``The Well,'' is a departure for the Klezmatics, a band that promises ``radical Jewish roots music for the 21st century'' (the Klezmatics include several gay members, and the group has spoken favorably of drugs and leftist causes).

For ``The Well,'' Chava Alberstein has put to music poems by Abraham Reiser, Itsik Manger, Binem Heller and others.

The tunes are diverse (everything from Latin rhythms to boisterous klez), Ms. Alberstein's voice is remarkable, the Klezmatics play with power and restraint, and the result is extraordinary: An album that is sweet and evocative, profound and sorrowful.

Ms. Alberstein was born in Poland, and she finds herself returning again and again to Yiddish, like a first love. She does not think that the small number of people who understand Yiddish is any reason not to make Yiddish music. ``I understand the good Argentinian or Greek songs without understanding every word,'' she says.

``Basically,'' says Sklamberg, ``if you do something from a culture -- if it is done well and if it's done with understanding and care -- people are going to listen no matter what language it is.''

But why sing in Yiddish?

``It was at first a spoken language, so it is very warm,'' Ms. Alberstein says. ``It has a lot of words that just by the sound of it, can touch you, can make you laugh. Hebrew is not a sentimental language.''

And there is, for her, the imperative to keep alive the language of 6 million Holocaust victims. Her favorite song on ``The Well'' is Heller's ``Mayn Shvester Khaye,'' the story of the poet's sister, Khaye, ``with her eyes of green ... burnt by a German in Treblinka.''

``It is for her that I write my poems in Yiddish,'' he writes, ``In these terrible days of our times ...''

The message, she says, is, ``Not to give up. To go on. But to do things not in an academic or nostalgic way -- to do, to go on.''

Patinkin says he is sometimes overwhelmed by thoughts of the Holocaust. ``And I tell myself, `Fight to keep them alive. Don't you dare succumb to depression. You get out there and dance, and celebrate.''

So he intends to keep performing ``Mamaloshen'' after its limited run. ``We're taking it all over the world, until I die,'' he says.

``I must do this, because I'm now standing in that line of people who are called upon to pass this on, and if I give up my place in line I may never have another opportunity.''

``Mamaloshen'' is available on Nonesuch records. ``Di grine katshke'' is on Living Traditions, and ``The Well'' is on Xenophile.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Girl Gets Titanic Bat Mitzvah

Thursday, October 29, 1998; 1:43 a.m. EST

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- It was, by all accounts, a titanic bat mitzvah.

Thirteen-year-old Lisa Niren, described by her sister as obsessed with ``Titanic,'' got the bat mitzvah of her dreams over the weekend.

A hotel ballroom was transformed into the luxury liner, with 12-foot steaming smokestacks at the buffet table, phosphorescent artificial icebergs and a ``steerage'' section for the children.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the celebration last Saturday was rumored to cost as much as $500,000. Her father, Dr. Neil Niren, would not confirm the price tag, but Bonnie Chirigos, who spent a year planning the gala, said ``it was nowhere near that.''

Noting that his own parents survived the Holocaust, Niren said: ``Anyone can go down at any time. We didn't want to wait to show how much we love one another.''

Three hundred people came from as far as Canada, Mexico and Argentina to fete Lisa, who is ``obsessed'' with the Oscar-winning movie, according to her 15-year-old sister, Leslie.

The movie played over and over again on a 12-foot screen above a balcony at the Westin William Penn, one of Pittsburgh's fanciest hotels.

The piece de resistance was a gigantic photo, 10 feet above the floor, featuring Lisa's face superimposed over actress Kate Winslet's body in a famous ``Titanic'' scene on the prow of the ocean liner. Lisa appeared to have teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio smiling over her shoulder.

``Isn't this awesome?'' Lisa said, mugging for snapshots with her family. ``I just love the movie. I got the video the day it came out, and I watch it all the time. This is just amazing!''

Reflective aqua-tinted lighting along the walls and the phosphorescent blue and green icebergs made it appear as if the ballroom was under water.

Tables featured roses, crystal candelabras and replicas of the heart-shaped blue diamond necklace from the movie.

``This is incredible,'' said Heather Levy, a friend of Lisa's mother. ``A lot of people do things for their children because they love them, but this goes beyond all that. I'm just standing here smiling.''

The bat mitzvah -- or bar mitzvah, for boys -- is a Jewish religious celebration marking a child's passage into religious adulthood.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Thursday October 29 4:33 AM EDT

War of Worlds 60th Anniversary

By WAYNE PARRY Associated Press Writer

GROVERS MILL, N.J. (AP) - Sixty years ago, when Orson Welles used this small hamlet as the basis of his radio adaptation of ``War of the Worlds,'' people fled in fear - then stewed in anger when they discovered the ``Martian attack'' was a hoax.

``They felt that they were duped,'' said Lynn Thornton, the township's director of senior services.

``They're very sensitive about it. They don't want to be thought of as stupid because they fell for this. There's a sensitivity that has existed ever since then,'' she said.

Most residents have not only gotten over it, they have come to embrace their strange place in radio history. Now, as the original broadcast nears its 60th anniversary, Grovers Mill is trying to cash in on its notoriety with posters, blankets and bumper stickers.

``We're having fun to call attention to some things we think are very important, such as media responsibility, social psychology and civil defense,'' said Doug Forrester, a former mayor of West Windsor Township, which includes Grovers Mill.

There will be a $175-per-plate dinner at a ritzy Princeton hotel Saturday night featuring indoor pyrotechnics, simulated Martian landing craft, alien doormen and delegations of Martians evaluating attendees. The ``Martians'' will decide whether Earthlings have some redeeming qualities or deserve the death ray.

``Assuming the Martians don't incinerate all of us, there should be some good reviews,'' Forrester said.

What seems lighthearted now was serious business on Oct. 30, 1938. Welles tried to punch up the ratings for his Mercury Theatre radio show by broadcasting an adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic about a Martian invasion of Earth. They supposedly landed in Grovers Mill.

Despite a disclaimer at the start of the show and several others during its hour-long duration, an estimated one million of the 12 million people who tuned in nationwide believed the panicked reports from fictional reporters.

Mabel ``Lolly'' Dey was a 16-year-old high school junior playing the piano for her church hymn sing-along in Plainsboro - a mile from Grovers Mill - when a breathless young man burst into the church basement.

``He was yelling, `The Martians have landed in Grovers Mill! The Martians have landed in Grovers Mill!' '' recalled Ms. Dey, now 76.

The church seminarian said a prayer and told everyone to go straight home and pray some more. Ms. Dey burst through her own door, screaming for her mother to turn on the radio.

``In my history class, we had been studying about Hitler trying to destroy our country,'' she said. ``I assumed Hitler had something to do with the Martians, that he had sent them here to destroy us. I thought it was going to be the end, that they were going to come and kill us.''

The broadcast was stunning in its realism, from matter-of-fact news bulletins to breathless, panicked roving ``reporters'' giving reports of black poison gas felling thousands. One character described slimy, bear-sized beasts with wet, leathery skin, venom dripping from their V-shaped jaws.

Thousands of people across the country flooded local police departments with calls, phone lines were jammed nationwide and armed posses took to the fields. A man in Pittsburgh narrowly stopped his wife from swallowing poison to escape death at the hands of the Martians.

Near the purported landing spot in Grovers Mill, a group of gun-toting men crept through the foggy night, ready to blast anything that resembled a Martian.

``They saw a water tower right by the mill, and it was dark and foggy, and they saw the tower looming over them, and they shot at it,'' said Kay Reed, a co-founder of the local historical society. ``They put holes in it, quite a few of them.''

``One fellow in town put his kids in the car and started pumping gas into it, but most of it went onto the ground, he was so panicked,'' recalled Malcolm Roszel of Grovers Mill. ``He was in such a hurry to leave that he left his mother sitting in a chair on the front porch.''

Most people learned before they went to bed that they had been had.

Today, the only green slime in Grovers Mill comes from algae on the pond next to that fictional landing spot. On Saturday night, organizers of the Martian Ball will be raking in a different kind of green.

``We're using lightheartedness to draw attention to a unique slice of Americana,'' said Forrester. ``We're the accidental curators of something we feel is very significant.''


Man Faces Deportation in Nazi Crime

By Michael J. Sniffen
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, October 29, 1998; 5:42 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department has begun deportation proceedings against a retired Indiana housing contractor on grounds he served in a Nazi-sponsored unit that murdered thousands of Jews and others during World War II.

The department announced Thursday that it had filed a removal case against Kazys Ciurinskas, 80, of Hammond, Ind., in U.S. immigration court in Chicago on Monday.

``Ciurinskas participated in horrific atrocities as part of this Nazi-backed battalion and we are seeking to have him removed from this country as expeditiously as possible,'' said Eli M. Rosenbaum, head of the department's Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations.

Earlier this year, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago unanimously affirmed a 1997 federal district court ruling that stripped Ciurinskas of his U.S. citizenship. He immigrated from Germany in 1949 and had become a citizen in 1955.

The district court found that Ciurinskas assisted in persecution of civilians while serving as an armed member of the 2nd Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft Battalion, a mobile killing unit controlled by the Nazis. The court said this battalion killed thousands of Jewish men, women and children, suspected communists and their families, and Soviet military prisoners in mass shootings in Lithuania and what was then Byelorussia.

In October 1941 alone, the 2nd Battalion murdered more than 10,000 civilians in Byelorussia, the Justice Department said.

The district court found that Ciurinskas personally took part ``in at least one, and most likely more than one'' such killing action, and was promoted for ``conscientiously fulfilling his duties'' while serving with the unit in 1941.

When he entered the United States, Ciurinskas falsely concealed his wartime activity with the battalion by claiming he was a miller from 1936 to 1944, the district and circuits courts concluded.

Ciurinskas had denied being a member of a Lithuanian paramilitary group that helped round up and kill Russian Jews.

In February 1997, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Ciurinskas had been receiving disability payments from Germany of $540 a month since 1966.

``Mobile killing units, like the one to which Ciurinskas belonged, were critical to the Nazis genocidal campaign to eliminate the Jews of Eastern Europe,'' Rosenbaum said.

In September 1977, another Chicago-area resident and former member of the 2nd battalion, Juozas Naujalis, was ordered removed from the United States by an immigration court in Chicago.

Since its founding in 1979, the special investigations office has gotten 61 Nazi persecutors stripped of U.S. citizenship and 48 such individuals expelled from the country.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


French Far-Right Leader Faces Probe

Friday, October 30, 1998; 10:29 a.m. EST

MUNICH, Germany (AP) -- Prosecutors said Friday they have opened an investigation into French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen to determine whether he broke German laws that make trivializing the Holocaust a crime.

Munich prosecutor Peter Schlicht said his office would ask authorities in France to have Le Pen testify before a magistrate there as part of the probe. No arrest warrant was being issued, he said.

Prosecutors want to charge Le Pen in connection with his calling the Holocaust a ``detail in the history of World War II'' at a 1997 Munich news conference with German far-right politician Franz Schoenhuber.

Le Pen, leader of France's anti-immigrant National Front, maintains the statement does not deny the Holocaust happened. He could face a maximum of five years in jail if convicted.

The European Parliament voted earlier this month to lift Le Pen's parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

On Monday, Le Pen criticized the Oct. 16 arrest of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, saying the former Chilean dictator who ruled from 1973-90 and is being held in Britain probably saved South America -- and the world -- from communism.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Friday October 30 8:23 AM EDT

Germany Investigates Le Pen Over Holocaust Remarks

MUNICH (Reuters) - German prosecutors said Friday they had opened formal investigations into French nationalist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen for trivializing the Holocaust in remarks made last year during a visit to Germany.

Prosecutors in Germany have said they want to investigate Le Pen's comment that the murder of six million Jews in Nazi gas chambers was a ``mere detail'' of history.

Munich prosecutor Peter Schlicht said his office had received formal notification from the European Parliament, in which the leader of France's anti-immigration National Front sits, that Le Pen's immunity had been lifted.

The parliament voted overwhelmingly to lift his immunity on October 6.

The move came at the request of Munich prosecutors to clear the way for a possible trial in Germany.

Schlicht said he expected Le Pen to be questioned by the end of the year, but that it was not clear whether this would be done by the French authorities or by German investigators.

It was also too early to say whether charges would be filed, he said.

``Now that the European Parliament has lifted his immunity we have been able to start our investigation,'' Schlicht said.

A judicial investigation is the first step towards bringing charges.

Le Pen has admitted the remark, but said that ``detail'' meant something different in French.

It is illegal in Germany to deny or trivialize the Holocaust. The offence, known as the ``Auschwitz lie'' is included in a law against incitement to racial hatred. The maximum penalty is five years in jail and a stiff fine.

Le Pen made the comments at the launch of a biography entitled: ``Le Pen the Rebel'' in Munich.


At Least 60 Killed in Sweden Fire

By Lennart Simonsson
Associated Press Writer
Friday, October 30, 1998; 5:28 a.m. EST

GOTEBORG, Sweden (AP) -- A fire turned a dance hall jammed with teen-age Halloween revelers into a deathtrap today, killing at least 60 people and injuring about 180.

The blaze broke out early today in the Macedonian Association building in the southwest coastal city of Goteborg.

The immigrant group had organized a disco dance for young people, mostly between the ages of 13 and 18, to celebrate Halloween, officials said. The dance was held on the building's second floor.

``We are still searching the building ... but so far we have found 60 dead,'' Goteborg police official Jan Edmundson said on Swedish national radio. ``What we know is that there was an explosion.''

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. But local rescue service leader Lennart Olin said there were signs that the fire was deliberately set, the Swedish news agency TT reported.

``The fact that it spread so fast indicates that it was not a normal fire,'' he said.

It was the deadliest fire in modern Swedish history. In 1978, 20 people died in a fire in the town of Boraas.

Binan Atta was walking to the Macedonian Association when he saw the fire. He said he raced in and pulled to safety several people, including a friend. ``His clothes had burned off. His skin was red and bubbly,'' Atta said.

``Lots of kids were just screaming,'' he added at Hammarkullen Lutheran Church, where several dozen family and friends of victims gathered. ``I saw about 10 people in windows who just jumped. They didn't even look down'' beforehand.

``It reminded me of the gas chambers at Auschwitz,'' Olin said, describing the sight that rescuers first saw when they entered the building.

TT also reported that 190 people were taken to hospitals with injuries from the blaze, of which about 20 were in intensive care. Seven of the most severely injured were taken by helicopter to burn clinics in other cities throughout Sweden, the report said.

The building had been inspected by the rescue service in April 1997 and ``fulfilled all possible demands as far as emergency exits and the possibility for fast evacuation,'' Olin said.

Jamal Fawz, 15, told TT that he was out on the dance floor when the blaze started.

``It looked like it started in the ceiling, and lamps and loudspeakers fell to the floor,'' he was quoted as saying.

``It was chaos. Everybody was trying to get out and people trampled on each other on the way to the exit. ... Others kicked out the windows and jumped out,'' said Fawz, who estimated there were about 400 people inside.

Ambulances were called in from several nearby communities and the Goteborg rescue services also brought city buses into service to help transport the injured.

Anna-Lisa Saar, a social worker at Oestra Hospital, where many of the victims were taken, said identifying the bodies will be difficult because many of the teen-agers weren't carrying proper identification.

``They maybe don't have their own identification, but have that of a friend who is a year older. Girls don't carry their identification on them, but in a bag and maybe that wasn't lying with the body,'' she said, according to TT.

Goteborg is Sweden's second-largest city, on the country's west coast about 300 miles southwest of Stockholm.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Study: Jefferson, Slave Had Baby

By Malcolm Ritter
AP Science Writer
Saturday, October 31, 1998; 7:01 p.m. EST

Thomas Jefferson really did father at least one child by his slave Sally Hemings, says a genetic study that a historian thinks will help Bill Clinton face an impeachment threat.

The study, organized by a retired medical professor after the idea came up over dinner, links Jefferson to the last of Hemings' children, Eston.

Jefferson, who became president in 1801, was accused publicly in 1802 of being the father of several of Hemings' children. Scholars have been divided about whether to believe it.

Eston Hemings -- who eventually took the name Eston Hemings Jefferson -- was born six years after the accusations surfaced, during Jefferson's second term. The genetic result implies a longstanding sexual relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings that probably began in the late 1780s, well after Jefferson's wife died in 1782, said Jefferson scholar Joseph J. Ellis of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass.

Ellis co-wrote a commentary on the findings, which will be reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. He and gene expert Eric S. Lander of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded that the new work, together with prior circumstantial evidence, ``seems to seal the case that Jefferson was Eston Hemings' father.''

The genetic results will be presented in Nature by Dr. Eugene Foster, a retired pathology professor in Charlottesville, Va., and seven scientists from Oxford and Leicester universities in England and Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Ellis, author of ``American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson,'' said he figures the new study is good news for a more recent president with sex-scandal troubles.

``Bill Clinton is one of the luckiest guys around, because my own view is that this news will help his cause in his own impeachment hearings,'' Ellis said.

``It suggests presidential indiscretions are a longstanding, historically based thing, and one of the great icons of American history ... who is in fact Clinton's favorite founding father, himself was engaged in an illict sexual relationship.''

Before the genetic study, the case for Jefferson's paternity rested on evidence like physical resemblances between him and several of Hemings' children, and the statement of one son, Madison, that his mother named Jefferson as the father of all her children. She had at least five.

Foster cautioned that his study doesn't prove paternity. He also said the project was ``more fun than I've had in years.''

Foster took it up after a friend wondered whether DNA could be used to solve the longstanding paternity question. Foster eventually decided to focus on the Y chromosome, which passes mostly unchanged from father to son. That makes it far easier to track through generations than DNA from other chromosomes.

It would make sense to see if the Y chromosome found in Jefferson descendants matched in its details with the Y chromosome in descendants of Sally Hemings' sons. But those descendants would have to be part of an unbroken male line of descent, and Jefferson's only son by his wife died in childhood. So, Foster turned to descendants of Field Jefferson, the president's paternal uncle, because their Y chromosomes should indicate what Thomas Jefferson's looked like.

After months of detective work, Foster also found male-line descendants of Eston Hemings and of Sally Hemings' first son, Thomas Woodson.

To get the analysis done, he got in touch with a molecular geneticist at Oxford, who lined up the other scientists. Foster drew blood of the descendants himself, driving as far south as Hilton Head, S.C., as far west as Columbus, Ohio and as far north as Pittsburgh. Then he had a lab extract the DNA, which he delivered to Oxford.

The analysis found that the Jefferson Y chromosome was highly unusual, of a kind never observed outside the family. It matched the sample from the participating descendant of Eston Hemings, but not the Woodson DNA.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


How Rhetoric Became Rights

By David A. Martin

Sunday, November 1, 1998; Page C02

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be 50 years old next month. Its 30 articles set forth an impressive and diverse catalog of rights, ranging from equality before the law through freedom from torture and the right to a fair trial to economic rights. Events around the world will celebrate its adoption by the U.N. General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948.

But the declaration was not the first document to specify rights, nor is it the most elegant. More importantly, a U.N. declaration is neither a treaty nor a true bill of rights. It lacks binding legal force. It establishes no police force to compel compliance and no courts to try cases. As a result, the declaration has provided the occasion for some of rankest hypocrisy ever heard in the halls of the U.N.; many diplomats who supported its adoption or later praised its provisions spoke for governments guilty of terrible abuses.

So why celebrate?

At the time of its adoption, many staunch supporters of human rights asked the same question. Some even saw the declaration as a setback, a retreat from the high hopes for human rights protection that flourished after World War II.

Remember the historical context. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had stirred those hopes in 1941 when he declared America's aims in supporting the victims of Hitler's aggression. Roosevelt spoke of the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear. Victory in Europe revealed the full scope of Nazi atrocities and deepened the commitment many felt to global efforts for the protection of human rights. Some smaller nations even talked of incorporating a comprehensive bill of rights into the proposed U.N. charter--firm treaty obligations to be implemented and guaranteed by the new international organization.

The charter adopted in April 1945, however, contained only general references to "human rights and fundamental freedoms." Anticipating criticism, some leaders promised that the first business of the new U.N. Commission on Human Rights would be to draft, as President Harry Truman put it, "an international bill of rights, acceptable to all the nations involved." Human rights advocates heard that promise as a pledge to develop a new treaty with binding legal obligations.

When the commission's first labors produced only a declaration, concern mounted. True, it was accepted unanimously by the General Assembly, although the Soviet bloc countries, Saudi Arabia and South Africa abstained. But that didn't ease the disappointment in some quarters. Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, renowned Cambridge professor and later judge of the International Court of Justice, remarked acidly that the declaration "has proved acceptable to all for the reason that it imposes obligations upon none."

Why, then, honor such a document?

An answer may be found in the words of one esteemed American observer, who said this about a declaration's purpose:

"They [the framers] meant simply to declare the right, so that enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life to people of all colors everywhere."

The words fit the circumstances of 1948. But the commentator was Abraham Lincoln. He was speaking in 1857 about the American Declaration of Independence, which was then just 80 years old.

That declaration's human rights provisions likewise enjoyed no direct legal force. They, too, drew accusations of hypocrisy. But throughout his career, Lincoln used those passages both as personal inspiration and as an effective political fulcrum in the struggle against slavery. He appreciated, more deeply than did the disappointed observers of 1948, the value of a "standard maxim for free society," even if it carried no immediate legal force.

Lincoln explained: "The assertion that 'all men are created equal' was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration not for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be--as, thank God, it is now proving itself--a stumbling block to all those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism."

When we celebrate either declaration, then, we celebrate the foresight of its framers. More ambitious legal requirements were not realistically achievable in 1948. Instead, the drafters of the Universal Declaration used what agreement they could muster to launch a more patient process. If governments would not accept firm obligations girded with effective enforcement, they could at least be maneuvered into subscribing to broad statements that might help future efforts.

Ironically, the lack of immediate enforcement probably fostered clearer and more demanding norms, for governments then felt no need to burden the standards with intricate exceptions and qualifications. And in succeeding decades, many powerful leaders, apparently lulled by the limited enforcement mechanisms, repeated words of devotion to human rights. Unwittingly, they enhanced the declaration's stature, until it became the chief measuring stick for judging a nation's internal policies.

By the time the declaration turned 30, governments found they could no longer get by with lip service. The Helsinki Final Act--signed in 1975 by Gerald Ford, Leonid Brezhnev and other European leaders--may provide the best example. Although the act was not a legally binding treaty, the Soviets wanted it as a recognition of the post-war division of Europe. In return, the West secured commitments on several human rights issues, including a pledge of fealty to the Universal Declaration by Soviet bloc leaders--something they had avoided by abstaining in the 1948 U.N. vote.

That pledge gave legitimacy to the human rights cause championed--often in the face of bitter persecution--by pioneers such as Andrei Sakharov. Practitioners of Realpolitik scoffed at Helsinki's human rights provisions in 1975, but by 1991 even the Soviet Union was dismantled by governments trying to become democracies.

Just as Lincoln did with the Declaration of Independence, human rights advocates have used the Declaration of Human Rights as leverage. They gradually incorporated its key principles into both domestic constitutions and international treaties.

Nothing was automatic about this success. It required political savvy and sometimes enormous sacrifice. And nothing guarantees its survival. But the story of the Universal Declaration is one of how farsighted advocates made use of hypocrisy. It is a bit of cleverness worth celebrating.

David Martin, professor of law at the University of Virginia, served in the State Department's human rights bureau from 1978 to 1980.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company


Aussie Internet Racial Laws Tested

Monday, November 2, 1998; 6:19 a.m. EST

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- In the first test of Australia's anti-discrimination laws involving the Internet, a government commission heard arguments today over a Web site that claims the Holocaust never happened.

The case was brought by the Executive Council of Australia Jewry against a group called the Adelaide Institute -- a private organization.

In addition to claiming the Holocaust was a hoax, the institute's website contains a series of anti-Semitic statements, said Peter Wertheim, the Jewish group's vice president.

The Web site contains statements about ``the Jewish religion, Jewish people, Jewish history which really amount to a stream of derogatory generalizations about the Jewish people,'' Wertheim said.

Millions of Jews died in Nazi death camps during World War II. Adelaide Institute director Frederick Toben stormed out of the proceedings before a New South Wales State commission because it wouldn't let him argue that the extermination didn't occur.

The Jewish group is seeking a public apology, removal of the website material, and an order preventing future Internet publication of similar material by the institute.

It was not clear when the commission would rule on the matter.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


'Vampires' Edges Out 'Pleasantville

By Michael Fleeman
AP Entertainment Writer
Monday, November 2, 1998; 2:39 a.m. EST

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Evil won easily at the Halloween weekend box office.

``John Carpenter's Vampires'' took first place over the still-strong ``Pleasantville'' on a weekend in which six of the top 10 films dealt with the sinister or the supernatural, industry estimate showed Sunday.

``Antz,'' meanwhile, became the highest-grossing animated feature outside the Disney studio, overtaking the $62.8 million-grossing ``Beavis & Butt-head Do America.'' DreamWorks' computer-animated tale of a tiny insect with big ideas has amassed $67.4 million after five weeks.

``Vampires,'' starring James Woods as the leader of a gang out to destroy bloodsuckers in the Southwest, overcame universally bad reviews to open with $9.2 million, the best debut for a film by director Carpenter. It topped his ``Escape from L.A.,'' which opened with $8.9 million in 1996.

``Vampires''' staying power is questionable once the Halloween decorations come down, but Sony spokesman Ed Russell said the studio picked up the movie so cheaply from Largo Entertainment that ``it will already be a profitable film for us before the week is over.''

It led a box office weekend filled with death and darkness. In third place was ``Practical Magic,'' ``Bride of Chucky'' was fifth, ``Beloved'' was seventh, ``What Dreams May Come'' was ninth and ``Apt Pupil'' was 10th. Another horror film, ``Urban Legend,'' was 11th.

``Pleasantville,'' an optimistic fantasy about bringing color to the black-and-white TV lives of a sitcom town, sold $6.6 million in tickets for second, losing only 25 percent of its opening figure in its second week.

``Practical Magic'' made $5.1 million, ``Antz'' $4.1 million for fourth, ``Bride of Chucky'' had $4 million and ``Rush Hour'' had $3.4 million to take sixth place.

``Beloved'' continued to tumble, with $2.6 million. After three weeks, the Oprah Winfrey movie has sold just $18.6 million in tickets.

Plunging further was the futuristic ``Soldier,'' which dropped 60 percent in its second week to finish eighth with $2.58 million. ``What Dreams May Come'' made $2.4 million and ``Apt Pupil'' had $1.7 million.

Among the films in limited release, ``Beloved'' scriptwriter Richard LaGravenese's directing debut, ``Living Out Loud,'' opened well, collecting $142,700 on eight screens for a $17,838-per-location average.

The neo-Nazi tale ``American History X'' didn't fare as well, bringing in $148,000 on 17 screens for a per-location average of $8,706.

The estimated grosses at North American theaters for Friday through Sunday as compiled by Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:

1. ``John Carpenter's Vampires,'' $9.2 million.

2. ``Pleasantville,'' $6.6 million.

3. ``Practical Magic,'' $5.1 million.

4. ``Antz,'' $4.1 million.

5. ``Bride of Chucky,'' $4 million.

6. ``Rush Hour,'' $3.4 million.

7. ``Beloved,'' $2.6 million.

8. ``Soldier,'' $2.58 million.

9. ``What Dreams May Come,'' $2.4 million.

10. ``Apt Pupil,'' $1.7 million.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Play About Holocaust Survivors Opens

By Mary Campbell
Associated Press Writer
Monday, November 2, 1998; 11:47 a.m. EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- ``Retribution,'' a play about Holocaust survivors, makes a strong impact at the Lamb's Theater off-Broadway, despite some holes in the production.

Set in New York in 1965, the play, which opened Thursday, centers around Judah Kramer, who is about to direct a Broadway play about a World War II concentration camp. Judah hires Carl Walkowitz, a concentration camp survivor, to help translate the play from German.

The audience almost immediately distrusts Carl. Lines from ``Othello'' are quoted. Is Carl an evil Iago, plotting to bring down a noble Othello? Or does Carl know something about the likable Judah that the audience does not? Was Judah not in the camps at all? Was he a collaborator with the Nazi captors in a camp?

At the base of both men's psyches -- and of the play -- is the survivors' feeling of guilt and unworthiness to be alive when so many died, including their parents, Judah's sister and Carl's wife.

The hollow-eyed Dennis Christopher, who appeared in the movie ``Breaking Away,'' conveyed the obsessed Carl with frightening intensity.

Carl tries to wreck Judah. He decides to seduce his wife and lies that his Broadway lighting designer is anti-Semitic so must be fired. Carl finally reveals what obsesses him about Judah. If the audience can ignore it's something he couldn't possibly know, it leads to a powerfully dramatic scene.

Jack Laufer, who plays Judah, was in the TV film ``The Man Who Captured Eichmann.'' Stuart Zagnit plays a press agent, Paul Stolarsky, an acting teacher, and Walter Hudson, a money man nervous as a first-time producer. Jenna Stern, as Judah's movie-star wife, was less convincing than other cast members.

Author Mark R. Shapiro grew up on Guam and was in Guam's delegation to the U.S. Congress before deciding to write full-time in 1994. He based his play on the book ``Who Shall Live, Who Shall Die,'' by Daniel Stern. Michael Unger directed and Narelle Sissons designed the set.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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Woman Sent to Croatia for War Trial

By Snjezana Vukic
Associated Press Writer
Monday, November 2, 1998; 3:58 p.m. EST

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- The wife of the commander of Croatia's worst Nazi-era concentration camp arrived in Croatia on Monday after being extradited from Argentina for alleged war crimes.

Nada Sakic, 76, looked frail as she got off a plane that flew her from Germany after an overnight flight from Argentina, where she and her husband had lived a low-key life for more than half a century.

Her husband, Dinko Sakic, was extradited from Argentina in June on suspicion of ordering and carrying out war crimes while he was commander of the Jasenovac concentration camp from 1942 to 1944. He is being held in a Zagreb prison.

Mrs. Sakic is accused of being a guard from 1942 to 1945 in the women's block at the Stara Gradiska camp, part of the Jasenovac complex.

Tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and antifascist Croats were killed at Jasenovac, the most notorious of more than 20 concentration camps run by Croatia's World War II Nazi puppet state.

Mrs. Sakic was extradited on a warrant accusing her of ``carrying out torture, inhuman treatment of civilians, as well as terror, intimidation and collective punishment of civilians.''

Mrs. Sakic suffers from advanced Parkinson's disease, so she will likely be moved to the prison's hospital, said her Zagreb attorney, Branko Seric. He said she was ``ready to come and clarify her wartime role.''

Mrs. Sakic disembarked slowly Monday from the back door of the plane that flew her to Croatia, supported by two men in civilian clothing. Once on the runway, two policewomen escorted her to a van that took her to Zagreb prison.

The Sakics fled Croatia at the end of World War II and had lived in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, until April, when Dinko Sakic aroused international attention after appearing on Argentine television to talk about his wartime role.

Dinko Sakic, who faces a maximum 20 years in prison, contends those who died at the camp succumbed to disease and natural causes.

Nada Sakic was arrested in July in Argentina at the request of Yugoslav officials, who accused her of genocide.

Croatia then asked for her extradition, apparently to prevent her from being tried in Serb-dominated Yugoslavia, where she would face a tougher trial. The majority of victims at the camp were Serbs.

There is concern the Sakics may get a lenient trial in Croatia, where some are unwilling to accept that their compatriots participated in Nazi-era atrocities. But Croatian authorities say the trials will be fair and open to international observers.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Former Soviets Immigrate to Israel

Tuesday, November 3, 1998; 11:36 a.m. EST

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Immigrants from the former Soviet Union have become Israel's largest ethnic group, overtaking Israelis of Moroccan descent, a new Hebrew University study has found.

Some 900,000 immigrants from the former Soviet republics live in Israel, compared to about 500,000 tracing their roots to Morocco, according to the study, ``Profile of an Immigration Wave.''

The newcomers from the Soviet Union increased the Jewish population of Israel by 15 percent. As a result of the immigration wave, there has been a jump in the overall level of education. The percentage of divorced women and single parent families has also increased, the study said.

Some 750,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union have arrived in the Jewish state since 1989. They compromise about one-seventh of the population.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Croat Denies WWII Camp Involvement

By Snjezana Vukic
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, November 3, 1998; 2:59 p.m. EST

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- A Croat woman suspected of torturing inmates in the country's most notorious World War II camp believes the charges are groundless, her attorney said Tuesday.

Nada Sakic, who was extradited from Argentina on Monday, met with an investigative judge in the first step toward determining whether she will be indicted for war crimes.

Her husband Dinko, 76, is already imprisoned here on war crimes charges.

Mrs. Sakic, 72, was extradited on a warrant accusing her of ``carrying out torture, inhuman treatment of civilians, as well as terror, intimidation and collective punishment of civilians,'' which led to the deaths of an unknown number of inmates.

As a teen-ager, Mrs. Sakic allegedly was a guard from 1942-45 in the women's block at the Stara Gradiska camp, part of the Jasenovac concentration camp complex.

Dinko Sakic, extradited from Argentina in June, is suspected of ordering, witnessing and participating in the war crimes committed in the Jasenovac camp he commanded between 1942 and 1944.

Tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and antifascist Croats were killed at Jasenovac, the most notorious of more than 20 concentration camps run by Croatia's World War II Nazi puppet state.

After hearing the charges, Mrs. Sakic said she ``doesn't even want to respond to such false accusations,'' her attorney Branko Seric said.

``She didn't want to present her defense because she thinks the charges are groundless,'' Seric said. Asked whether she believes she is innocent, he replied: ``Absolutely.''

Mrs. Sakic, who suffers from advanced Parkinson's disease, spent the night in Zagreb's main prison, where her husband also is imprisoned. The two have not been allowed to meet.

The Sakics married in late 1944, after apparently meeting each other through Maks Luburic, Mrs. Sakic's half-brother and Dinko Sakic's superior. Luburic was in charge of all World War II camps in Croatia.

Some Croatian media claimed Mrs. Sakic was put into Stara Gradiska by Luburic, who wanted the young sister, left without parents, to be taken care of by his subordinates. According to these claims, she wore a uniform but was not a camp guard.

Seric indicated that will be her defense, saying, ``That is exactly what happened.''

``She was in the camp by a combination of circumstances, not as an official in charge of doing things that she is now accused of,'' he said.

Mrs. Sakic and her husband fled Croatia in 1945 when Nazi rule was crushed. Both lived in the Argentine capital until April, when Dinko Sakic outraged Holocaust survivors by telling Argentine television that Jasenovac victims died of disease and natural causes.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


German Magazine Defends Hitler Ads

Tuesday, November 3, 1998; 9:19 a.m. EST

BERLIN (AP) -- Responding to public protest, Germany's most influential newsmagazine today defended its use of a photograph of Adolf Hitler in ads promoting its series about the 20th century.

Newspapers that ran the full-page ads this week and Der Spiegel magazine itself reported complaints from readers that the head shot of Hitler amounted to ``a glorification of a war criminal.''

The ads feature the photograph of Hitler above the words ``Look history in the face.'' On the next page, under a photo of a crying Hitler youth member meant to contrast with the Hitler image, there is a reference to the 50-part Spiegel series, which began this week.

Spiegel spokesman Matthias Schmolz said magazine editors anticipated some controversy, but felt Hitler could not be ignored.

``He stands, probably like no one else, for German history in the 20th century, certainly very disastrous and unspeakable, naturally,'' he said. ``But as far as that goes, I believe he's a good choice because it makes clear what the series is about.''

He said the editors decided to limit the Hitler ads to newspapers, though, ``to avoid just such misunderstandings.'' Other figures such as Vladimir Lenin and John F. Kennedy appear on outdoor billboards.

To complaints that neo-Nazis could use the newspaper ads as posters, Schmolz said only: ``Whoever does that, we feel sorry for them.''

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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Exhibit Honors Holocaust Survivors

By Dina Kraft
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, November 3, 1998; 1:47 a.m. EST

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Dov Levin, a white-haired history professor, eagerly pointed to a dark leather ammunition belt he wrestled from a British soldier and then wore as a scout in Israel's fledgling army in the 1948 Mideast war.

Levin was among thousands of Holocaust survivors who made up half of the Israeli fighting forces in the struggle for independence in the later stages of the war.

A new exhibit at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial documents the experiences of those who found themselves transported from the death camps and hiding places of eastern Europe to yet another battlefield.

``We didn't go with enthusiasm, but there was a war going on,'' said Litman Mor, 81, a retired chemist from Tel Aviv.

The exhibit displays fading film reels of their arrival in Israel, black and white photographs showing the rigors of basic training, snatches of diaries, sketches, weaponry and old Hebrew notebooks.

The artifacts recently brought a group of some 150 Holocaust survivors, mostly from Israel, back to a time when the past was still a fresh nightmare and the future was anything but certain.

Levin, 73, paused and briefly fell silent in front of a small glass case holding the journal he kept during the 1948 war.

On a page dated from October 1948 and following several lines describing the fighting, the young Levin had written in bold block letters that it had been six years since his parents and twin sister were killed by the Nazis.

Wearing a fishing hat, with reading glasses hung around his neck, Levin greeted Mor warmly and the two former soldiers exchanged stories animatedly.

Both fled the eastern European ghettos and made their way deep into the forests where they fought alongside partisans against Nazi Germany during World War II.

After the war, they came to Israel, which absorbed about a half million survivors who arrived as refugees from Europe.

Yurek Plonsky, 72, who fought in the Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Germans and then settled at Kibbutz Megiddo in the north of Israel, gazed at the memorabilia around him and spoke sharply as his deep blue eyes flashed with emotion.

``These are not just memories; this was life. Without the survivors, the country would not be here today. We paid with our lives. We paid with our sons' lives,'' he said.

Plonsky's son was killed in the 1973 Mideast war.

He said his motivation to fight in 1948 came from losing 100 relatives in the Nazi genocide.

``Here you now had a chance to have your own plot of land, with your own gun to protect you without being called `dirty Jew','' Plonsky said.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Israel Urges Wait in Beatification

By Victor L. Simpson
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, November 3, 1998; 8:53 p.m. EST

ROME (AP) -- Israel's ambassador to the Vatican stepped into a longtime dispute between Jews and the church Tuesday, urging the Vatican to wait 50 years before moving ahead with any plan to beatify Pius XII, the World War II-era pope.

Ambassador Aharon Lopez said the moratorium would give time for all relevant documents in the Vatican archives to be made public and allow the healing of ``wounds still open'' from the Holocaust.

Pius, pope from 1939 until his death in 1958, has been accused by Jews and others of remaining silent about the Nazi Holocaust.

In March, Pope John Paul II defended Pius against such accusations, calling him a ``great pope.''

The case for possible beatification is now under study, but the Vatican recently denied reports that it had already decided to beatify him, together with Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI, in 2000, when the Vatican marks the start of Christianity's third millennium. Beatification is the last step before possible sainthood.

Lopez acknowledged that beatifications were the church's business and said he was not passing judgment on Pius, but was speaking out because of the ``controversy'' surrounding Pius.

``A moratorium should be welcome,'' the ambassador said.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said in response that the beatification process ``would take its due course.''

Lopez made his comments on Pius during a news conference after deflecting questions about Israel's reaction to statements by the Vatican's foreign minister during a visit to Jerusalem last week.

Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran said east Jerusalem was ``illegally occupied'' by the Israelis and asked for international guarantees for sites considered holy by Christian, Jews and Muslims.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem, including the traditionally Arab east which it took over in the 1967 war, its eternal capital.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Truth of Holocaust Book Questioned

Tuesday, November 3, 1998; 1:27 p.m. EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- The author of an award-winning memoir of surviving Nazi concentration camps claims he was a Latvian Jew born in 1939, but his story is coming under increasing doubt, according to published reports.

The book by Binjamin Wilkomirski, ``Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Childhood,'' first published in 1995, was lauded by Jewish groups and won the National Jewish Book Award in the United States and the Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize in Britain. It was translated into more than a dozen languages.

While the publishers maintain they believe the author is a Latvian Jew who survived the Holocaust, his identity is being questioned.

``I read this book as a remarkable novel and was surprised when Wilkomirski said it was a memoir,'' retired Simmons College professor Lawrence Langer, an authority on the Holocaust, told The Boston Globe. ``This is now a scandal of large proportions. I'm getting e-mail from survivors now saying, `What else are they going to do to us? Now they're making up stories about us.''' The Globe published a story on Wilkomirski last month.

In the book, Wilkomirski recalls seeing his father beaten to death and being imprisoned at age 3 or 4 in a concentration camp in Poland, eventually spending time in two camps. He says the details of his early years were revealed through therapy.

But Swiss legal records identify Wilkomirski as the son of an unwed Swiss Protestant woman and say he was adopted by a middle-class Zurich couple. They indicate he was born in 1941, two years later than is stated in the original German edition of the book, ``Fragments: A Childhood 1939 to 1948.''

The book itself noted some of the contradictions in the record, with Wilkomirski telling readers in an ``afterword'' that the birth date of 1941 in the Swiss records ``has nothing to do with either the history of this century or my personal history.''

Wilkomirski claimed that a third person, who is now dead, had altered and switched legal records.

More questions were raised over the summer by Swiss author Daniel Ganzfried, who was commissioned to write a profile of Wilkomirski. He found that records show Wilkomirski attending first grade in Zurich in 1947 even though Wilkomirski says he didn't arrive in Switzerland until the following year. He also says he found a 1946 photo of Wilkomirski in the garden of his adoptive parents.

Publishers of the book still support the account given by the author, who has become a recluse. Asked for comment by The New York Times, which published a story on the controversy today, Wilkomirski wrote in an e-mail: ``My health is in rather poor condition. I am very weak and it takes me a lot of strength to answer questions, which cannot be answered in only a few sentences.''

Some historians have said the book should have been published as fiction because of doubts about the author's background.

Deborah Dwork, director of the Center for Holocaust Studies at Clark University, said she has doubts about the book because children age 3 or 4 only rarely survived the camps.

She said she had met Wilkomirski and thinks he truly believes the story he tells. But she said that until he can show that the Swiss documents are inaccurate, ``I do not accept `Fragments' as historically accurate.''

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Obituaries in the News

By The Associated Press
Nancy Van Norman Baer
Tuesday, November 3, 1998; 5:54 a.m. EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- Auschwitz survivor Norbert Wollheim, who sued Germans for compensation for his Nazi-era slave labor, died Sunday at age 85.

Wollheim was one of 25,000 Jews forced to build a synthetic-rubber plant for I.G. Farben, one of Germany's largest manufacturers. He sued the company in 1951, demanding pay for two years of work.

He won about $25 a week and paved the way for a Farben settlement establishing a $6.4 million fund to compensate other Jewish laborers.

Wollheim, whose 3-year-old son and pregnant wife were among 80 relatives killed by the Nazis, was active in the Holocaust survivor community for much of his life.

He was a founder of the movement that led to 7,000 survivors gathering in Jerusalem in 1981 to honor their dead family members and friends.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Publisher Defends Holocaust Memoirs

By Alexander G. Higgins
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, November 3, 1998; 4:42 p.m. EST

GENEVA (AP) -- A best-selling memoir of a young boy's survival in a Nazi concentration camp has come under attack, critics charging that the account is phony and its author spent the war in the relative safety of Switzerland.

Since Binjamin Wilkomirski's ``Fragments'' was published in German in 1994, the book has won awards from Jewish organizations in a number of countries. It has been translated into 12 languages.

But questions have increasingly been raised about whether the autobiography is a true personal account.

Standing behind its book, publisher Suhrkamp Verlag of Frankfurt, Germany, on Tuesday demanded that challengers provide written proof of their allegations.

The book relates the first years of Wilkomirski's life from 1939 to 1948. Wilkomirski writes that at age 3 or 4, he saw his father, a Latvian Jew, beaten to death while imprisoned in a concentration camp in Poland. He says the details of his early years were revealed through therapy.

Daniel Ganzfried, a Swiss author who has taken a leading role in questioning the authenticity, said Tuesday he felt ``the book is getting thinner and thinner.''

Several newspapers have recently raised questions about the memoir's authenticity, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche and the French daily Le Monde.

Ganzfried said the scrutiny has prompted Wilkomirski to withdraw his assertion that Swiss authorities had falsified his birth and other records.

``He's taking back all factual details that one can research,'' Ganzfried said. ``I feel I've been proved right.''

The Associated Press left a message on the author's answering machine, but the call was not immediately returned. His agent in Zurich also refused to comment.

Thomas Sparr, chief of Suhrkamp Verlag's Jewish division, said his firm had carefully checked doubts that had been raised about the book.

``Of course, in this situation we need documents, witness statements, proof, that Wilkomirski was in Switzerland between 1941 and 1946,'' Sparr told AP.

Suhrkamp said such accounts by child survivors of the Holocaust have been challenged before.

But Ganzfried says Wilkomirski has always been Swiss, living in neutral Switzerland from his birth in 1941 until the end of the war and since then, and that he never was a concentration camp inmate.

He suggested that Wilomirski wasn't Jewish and was born Bruno Grosjean in 1941 to an unmarried Swiss Protestant woman and later adopted by a couple named Doessekker. Ganzfried said the family lived in Zurich and the boy entered school in 1947.

Ganzfried, whose own father survived Auschwitz, has written a novel about the Holocaust. He said what he would like to see is for ``Fragments'' to be withdrawn and reissued as a novel.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Europeans See Election Backlash

By Susannah Patton
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, November 4, 1998; 10:33 p.m. EST

PARIS (AP) -- European officials and commentators suggested Wednesday that U.S. election results confirm what they knew all along: the private lives of politicians should remain private.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said it was a ``a good thing for democracy'' that Democrats did not suffer a backlash from the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Democrats scored surprising gains in Tuesday's midterm election, gaining seats in the House and losing nothing to Republicans in the Senate.

Some Republicans had made an issue of Clinton's admission of his relationship with the former White House intern, urging voters to punish the president by not voting for Democrats.

In an interview with RTL radio, Vedrine said Clinton's party had performed well ``despite the pressures on him, despite the attacks, which really resembled McCarthyism.''

British Prime Minister Tony Blair had been talking to Clinton late Tuesday when election results came in, said a Blair spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Blair told Clinton that ``the result would seem to show that, provided political leaders focused on the things that mattered to people .... then people would stand by them,'' the spokesman quoted Blair as saying.

London's Evening Standard said that ``in setting aside the Lewinsky affair, the world's greatest democracy seems to have understood the limits of its obsession with exposing the private lives of politicians.''

Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said the results show a ``strengthening of the Democratic Party, and therefore also of the presidency.''

For Swiss officials, however, the defeat in New York of Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato was a particularly significant result.

In his role as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, D'Amato pressured Swiss banks restore more than $1 billion in lost assets to Holocaust victims.

``The government has taken note of Mr. D'Amato's failure to win re-election, obviously with great regret,'' government spokesman Achille Casanova said in a comment laced with sarcasm.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Germany Asked to Pay Slave Labor

Wednesday, November 4, 1998; 11:53 a.m. EST

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- A private foundation demanded Wednesday that Germany pay additional compensation to Poles forced to be Nazi-era slave laborers, an appeal launched one day before German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder makes his first official visit to Poland.

The Polish-German Reconciliation Foundation says Germany discriminated against Poles when it compensated former slave laborers for imprisonment and health damage: While one-third of 9 million slave laborers were Polish, Germany gave Polish victims only $1.2 billion out of the $78 billion paid in compensations.

The foundation, devoted to protecting the rights of Nazi victims, seeks compensation comparable to that received by victims in Western Europe. It claims former slave laborers from the West received thousands of dollars each while individual Polish victims have received only $425.

Foundation chairman Jacek Turczynski urged Schroeder, sworn in as chancellor Oct. 27, to discuss slave labor reparations with Polish officials when he arrives in Warsaw on Thursday.

West European and U.S. law firms have offered to include Polish slave laborers in suits against German industrial firms that used slave labor to help stoke the Third Reich war engine. The pending suits seek back wages versus the blanket compensation paid by firms such as Siemens and Mercedes-Benz.

Poles were ineligible for compensation from the firms, which were paid before the Iron Curtain fell in 1989; communist East European nations barred victims from applying.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Wednesday November 4, 1:37 pm Eastern Time

Company Press Release

SOURCE: National Jewish Democratic Council

Jewish Democrats Help Relieve `Six-Year Itch' in Historic Night

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- ``By turning out our vote, Democrats have turned political history on its head,'' said NJDC Executive Director Ira N. Forman. ``A clear message of this election is that the GOP leadership had better get on with the people's business and get off of the inquisition of President Clinton.''

``Jewish voters can be especially proud of the role they played in Democratic victories. This election reaffirmed that the Jewish community is a multi-issue community. And, the results of exit polls, from New York to Illinois to California, demonstrate that the Jewish vote continues to be solidly Democratic.

``Chuck Schumer's win, with 77% of the Jewish vote, shatters the myth of a single issue Jewish vote. No longer can Republicans who are anti-choice, pro-school prayer and anti-gun control hide behind their support for Israel when seeking Jewish votes. NJDC mailed 45,000 voter guides to Jewish voters in New York, placed two full page voter education ads in Jewish newspapers and dispatched two NJDC field organizers who helped to turn out the Jewish vote in New York.

``In Maryland, Jewish voted overwhelmingly to re-elect Parris Glendening. NJDC's 90,000 voters guides, which hit over 80% of Jewish households in Maryland, and our field program helped educate the Jewish community about the importance of this race.

``The radical right has been dealt a serious blow. Their candidates were defeated in their own backyard, the Bible Belt and across the country. A line of moderation has been drawn by voters. Republicans who crossed that line -- candidates for Alabama and California governor, California and New York Senate to name a few -- were defeated.

``Jewish Republicans targeted Fong (CA), D'Amato (NY) and Fox (PA), and lost all three. Their cynical strategy, which encouraged Republican candidates to speak only of their strong support for Israel while hiding their conservative social views, failed. Moreover, the biannual pre-election claim that Jews are voting more Republican was, once again, refuted at the polls. With only 23% of the Jewish vote, Senator D'Amato fared as poorly as did Bush in 1992 and Dole in 1996.''

NJDC distributed over 225,000 voter guides including in the following districts or states where Democrats won:

    California 24         17,000    Incumbent Democratic Rep. Sherman wins
                                     race targeted by GOP
    California Senate     47,000    Incumbent Democratic Sen. Boxer wins with
                                     80% of the Jewish vote
    Colorado 2             5,000    Democrat Tom Udall wins a very close race
                                     for this open seat
    Kansas 3               6,000    Challenger Democrat Moore defeats
                                     incumbent Rep. Snowbarger
    Maryland              90,000    Incumbent Democratic Governor Glendening
                                     wins hotly contested race
    New York 26           14,000    Incumbent Democratic Rep. Hinchey wins
                                     race targeted by GOP
    New York Senate       40,000    Challenger Democrat Schumer defeats
                                     incumbent Sen. D'Amato
    Pennsylvania 13       24,000    Challenger Democrat Hoeffel defeats
                                     incumbent Rep. Fox
    Washington 1           4,000    Challenger Democrat Inslee defeats
                                     incumbent Rep. White
    Washington Senate      4,000    Incumbent Democratic Senator Murray wins
                                     hotly contested race
    Oregon 1               4,000    Democrat Wu leads in a very close race for
                                     this open seat

NJDC placed field organizers in California (2), New York (2), Pennsylvania and Maryland. NJDC also placed two full page voter education ads in New York Jewish newspapers. NJDC PAC, in only its second election cycle, has emerged as the top pro-Israel Jewish political action committee in the country. NJDC PAC made over $1 million in direct and bundled contributions this cycle.

SOURCE: National Jewish Democratic Council


Wednesday November 4 12:12 PM EDT

Swiss Silent on D'Amato Defeat

BERN, Switzerland (AP) - The election defeat of New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, who many Swiss accuse of unfairly targeting their country in a campaign to win compensation for Holocaust survivors, was greeted mostly with silence Wednesday.

The Swiss government ``has taken note of Mr. D'Amato's failure to win re-election, obviously with great regret,'' government spokesman Achille Casanova said, prompting laughter from reporters with the obvious irony of his statement.

D'Amato used his position as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee to pressure Swiss banks to pay compensation to Holocaust survivors, maintaining the banks kept millions of dollars deposited by Jews during the Nazi era.

Switzerland's two biggest banks agreed in August to pay Holocaust survivors $1.25 billion in compensation for wartime losses.

Swiss newspapers frequently criticized D'Amato for targeting the banks and many Swiss, including Jewish leaders, accused him of making false allegations against the country.

But few were prepared to comment on his election defeat Tuesday to Democrat Charles Schumer.

``The people of New York have voted, and that's not something for Swiss Jews to comment on,'' said Thomas Lyssy, vice president of the Swiss Confederation of Hebrew Congregations.

However, there was sympathy for D'Amato from Swiss lawmaker Jean Ziegler, himself a longstanding critic of Swiss banks.

``D'Amato didn't deserve to lose. He played an important role in a crucial phase of Swiss history,'' said Ziegler. He said the Swiss owe D'Amato recognition for his part in achieving the accord between Swiss banks and lawyers for Holocaust survivors.


Austria to Return Looted WWII Art

By Roland Prinz
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, November 5, 1998; 6:22 p.m. EST

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Sixty years after its annexation by Nazi Germany, Austria enacted a law providing for the return of Jewish artworks plundered by the Nazis or donated under coercion from postwar governments.

The law, adopted unanimously Thursday, covers art that entered state-run museums and art collections under questionable circumstances during that period.

Austria was annexed by the Nazis in March 1938, but for decades after the war it cultivated the role of the first victim of Nazi aggression. Not until 1991 did an Austrian leader, Chancellor Franz Vranitzky, publicly acknowledged that ``not a few'' Austrians participated in wartime atrocities.

Austria's first postwar government also effectively confiscated hundreds of paintings from Jewish owners and their heirs, using a 1923 law preventing the export of artworks. The government allowed some Jews to reclaim their artworks and take them out of the country, but forced them to ``donate'' many others in exchange.

Last February, Culture Minister Elisabeth Gehrer made an unprecedented government promise to shed light on how the state kept works after 1945. She decreed that museums must clarify ``beyond any doubt'' the origin of their works.

According to Gehrer, who is in charge of museums, about 500 art objects were held back after 1945 under the export ban and remained as ``donations'' in Austrian museums and galleries.

Up for restitution under the new law are also those artworks museums purchased ``in good faith'' on the postwar art market, but whose origin is in doubt. The number of these items has not yet been determined, Gehrer said.

During the debate in parliament, she said the first returns of artworks would be made before year's end.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


French Leader Stands by Statement

Thursday, November 5, 1998; 12:55 p.m. EST

PARIS (AP) -- French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen says he stands by his statement that Nazi gas chambers are a ``detail'' of history -- though he's willing to call it a ``scandalous'' detail.

The statement, made in various interviews, has gotten Le Pen into trouble.

Last month, the European Parliament voted to lift his parliamentary immunity so German prosecutors can investigate whether he broke laws that make trivializing the Holocaust a crime.

In an interview published in Thursday's France-Soir newspaper, Le Pen was asked if he stood by his statement.

``Yes,'' he answered. Asked why he never qualified the wording, to say ``scandalous'' or something similar, he replied:

``But no one ever asked me to qualify it. Yes, it is a scandalous detail. An essential detail.''

Le Pen, whose anti-immigrant National Front has the support of about 15 percent of the French electorate, maintains the statement does not deny the Holocaust happened. He could face a maximum of five years in jail if convicted.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Accused Nazi Appears in Lithuania

By Liudas Dapkus
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, November 5, 1998; 6:07 a.m. EST

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) -- Aleksandras Lileikis, charged with sending scores of Jews to their deaths during the Nazi occupation, appeared in court today in a wheelchair and proclaimed his innocence, but was rushed away in an ambulance minutes later.

Doctors said the 91-year-old Lileikis may have suffered a heart attack and the judge postponed the court proceedings until Monday.

Lileikis' trial was to have begun in September, but was delayed when his lawyers said he was too ill to come to court. The court appointed a panel of doctors to examine him, which determined he was in poor health but fit to stand trial.

Lileikis was head of the security police in Vilnius during the 1941-44 Nazi occupation. He is charged with genocide for allegedly turning over more than 70 Jews to a Nazi execution squad.

``I was working for my nation and my country for all my life and now I am old and weak. But I can still say I did nothing wrong in my lifetime,'' Lileikis told the court from his wheelchair.

Minutes later, his hands began trembling, he started reciting the Lord's Prayer and he asked for more air. His daughter rushed to his side, crying and handing pills to her father.

The judge called for a recess and asked doctors to examine Lileikis, who was taken to an adjoining room and then rushed away in an ambulance.

It is the first Nazi war-crimes trial in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Some Jewish groups have criticized Lithuania for being slow in beginning the trial, alleging that officials had hoped that Lileikis will die before the start of proceedings that would bring painful reminders of the slaughter of the occupation years.

About 90 percent of Lithuania's 240,000 pre-war Jews died during the Nazi occupation.

Lileikis emigrated to the United States in 1955, and lived in Norwood, Mass. He returned to Lithuania in 1996 after a U.S. court took steps to revoke his citizenship and deport him.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press


Thursday November 5 7:17 AM EDT

Israel Extremist Parole Reduced

JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli woman who posted fliers portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a pig has won a reduction in her sentence for good behavior and is scheduled to be released Monday.

Tatiana Suszkin was sentenced to 24 months in prison after posting drawings showing the Muslim prophet as a pig on the doors of Arab-owned shops in the West Bank town of Hebron last year. Muslims, as well as Jews, consider pigs to be unclean.

Suszkin's parole board on Wednesday reduced her sentence by a third for good behavior, her lawyer, Sean Casper, said today. She will be released Monday unless the prosecution appeals the decision.

``She's in good spirits,'' Casper said.

Israel radio reported that the Shin Bet security service opposed the reduction in Suszkin's release and was discussing the issue with the state attorney.

If Suszkin is released, she must contact the police twice a day, according to Orit Messer-Harel, spokeswoman for the Prisons Authority. Suszkin would also be prohibited from leaving the Tel Aviv area and would have to observe an 8 p.m. curfew, he said.

The posters set off clashes in Hebron, a town of 450 Jewish settlers and 130,000 Palestinians. They also triggered outrage throughout the Muslim world, including angry street protests in Bangladesh and Iran, and rulings by Muslim clerics that insulting the prophet should be punishable by death.

Israeli leaders also condemned her actions.

Suszkin, an art school dropout and a supporter of the outlawed anti-Arab Kach group, was convicted of committing a racist act, supporting a terrorist organization, attempting to create religious offense and attempted vandalism. She was also convicted of endangering life by throwing rocks at Arab drivers.


Study: Swiss Anti-Semitism Reviving

By Geir Moulson
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, November 5, 1998; 5:00 a.m. EST

GENEVA (AP) -- Latent anti-Semitism in Switzerland has come into the open in the wake of controversy over the country's role in World War II, a government panel said today.

But after 50 years in which anti-Semitism was dismissed as marginal, the Swiss are at last coming to grips with the phenomenon, the Federal Commission against Racism said in a 72-page report.

The report, commissioned by the government in March 1997, estimated that one-tenth of the population holds anti-Semitic views, but more could be influenced by propaganda.

Switzerland is no exception to its European neighbors in having a long tradition of underlying anti-Semitism, the panel said. However, it found that prejudice against Jews is unorganized and rarely has links to right-wing extremism.

Following prolonged international pressure, particularly from Jewish groups, Switzerland's two biggest banks in August agreed to pay Holocaust survivors $1.25 billion in compensation for wartime losses.

Accusations that Switzerland acted as banker to Nazi Germany and other criticism of its wartime record caused widespread resentment in Switzerland itself.

``Comments by various politicians and a few flame-fanning newspaper headlines helped to heat up the situation,'' the commission said.

In early 1997, then-President Jean-Pascal Delamuraz caused an international outcry by labeling as ``blackmail'' Jewish demands for a $250 million Holocaust compensation fund.

Delamuraz eventually apologized but his comments were supported by a large number of Swiss, the report said.

``(Last year) a wave of anti-Semitism manifested itself in letters to newspapers, in threatening letters to prominent Jewish figures and organizations, and in everyday situations in which Jews were and continue to be insulted and ostracized,'' the report said.

Jewish organizations received hundreds of letters, many of them sympathetic, it continued. But many writers of anti-Semitic letters signed their names, it noted.

Work on the study was completed shortly before the settlement. But it cautioned that the accord ``may arouse new signs of anti-Semitism in Switzerland.''

Anti-Semitism in Switzerland this century has largely been linked to its resistance to the ``encroachment of foreign elements,'' the report said.

Detailing government, church and private initiatives to fight anti-Semitism, the commission called on politicians to take a clear position against it.

A planned $5 billion foundation to aid victims of genocide, war and natural disasters should also promote projects to fight the problem, the panel said, adding that the subject must also be dealt with in schools, workplaces and the army.

Switzerland's 1995 anti-racism law outlaws the belittling of the Holocaust. About 100 cases have so far made it to court, 55 of them involving anti-Semitism charges.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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