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>PD Jan. 27, 1995, V3, #19

Israeli Officer Under Fire for Sexist Remark

United Press International reported Thursday that a senior

Israeli officer is under fire for saying women have little to offer the Israeli army, and that throughout history they have served as "whores" while men do the fighting. An IDF spokesman said Col. Gershon Cohen's remarks to high school students "is not representative of the attitude in the Israel Defense Forces."

Jordanian-Palestinian Agreement Signed

By Al Pessin (Amman)

Jordan's King Hussein and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat have reached a wide-ranging cooperation agreement, but a senior Palestinian official says a disagreement over responsibility for the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem has not been resolved.

Arafat and Jordan's Prime Minister Sharif Zeid Bin Shaker signed the cooperation agreement, with King Hussein looking on. Other senior officials signed sections covering economic, cultural and political cooperation, as well as transportation, communications and other issues.

Arafat wants Hussein's help in developing the Palestinian autonomous areas, and the two must cooperate on such issues as currency circulation, banking and trade.

Officials said earlier in the week the two sides had agreed also that Jordan would be the custodian of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, as it has arranged with Israel, and that Jordan had promised to transfer the responsibility to the Palestinians if and when they gain control of Jerusalem. Officials said King Hussein emphasized that point in his talks with Arafat.

But reports say the document signed Thursday does not include that arrangement and a top Arafat adviser says the matter "remains unsettled." Arafat had cast some doubt on the expected agreement when he arrived here on Wednesday.

As part of the new Jordanian-Palestinian relationship, officials say Jordan will become the third Arab country to open an office in Gaza, where Arafat has his headquarters.

Thursday's agreement also reportedly gives the Palestinians more economic authority over such issues as banking and other financial matters, but also provides Jordan with guarantees that the Palestinian authority will not do anything to hurt the value of the Jordanian currency. About one-third of all Jordanian dinars circulate in the West Bank, where Palestinian autonomy is due to be expanded this year if ongoing talks with Israel succeed. The top leaders did not speak publicly about their accord, but Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Karim al-Kabariti said it is designed to put Jordanian-Palestinian relations on what he called a "solid foundation."

U.S. Warns Russia About Helping Iran Build Nukes

By David Gollust (Washington)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher has again appealed for an end to international assistance to Iran and its nuclear program. Christopher told a congressional committee Thursday Iran is mounting a crash program to obtain nuclear weapons.

Reflecting growing concern about Iran's nuclear activities, Christopher said those countries providing nuclear aid to the Tehran government put the security of the entire Middle East at risk.

Appearing before the House International Relations Committee, the secretary said those providing assistance are making it easier for Iran to sponsor terrorism and undermine peace -- and must bear the consequences of their actions:

Christopher's comments were aimed at Russia, which is pursuing a contract to complete work on two large nuclear reactors in Iran, and China, which is negotiating its own reactor sale. US officials believe Iran is still years away from a nuclear weapons capability, but say the timetable could be advanced if Iran is able to buy or otherwise acquire critical technology.

The secretary termed Iran a rogue state, leading rejectionist efforts to kill chances for Middle East peace by supporting Hizbullah, Hamas and other radical Islamic factions involved in terrorism.

Under questioning, the secretary said the US draws a distinction between fundamentalist Islam -- and acts of violence committed in its name: "We have no quarrel with Islam -- indeed we have great respect for the religion of Islam. But when it turns to terrorism, when it turns to radicalism, when it turns to extremism, then it undercuts the democratic trends around the world."

Christopher said Islamic radicalism feeds on what he called a seedbed of economic unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere -- and said countries in the Islamic world should be concerned about addressing unemployment and other chronic economic problems that lead to political and religious upheaval.

Jews and Gentiles Hold Separate Auschwitz Ceremonies; Walesa:

'Genocide Could be Repeated'

By Wayne Corey (Krakow, Poland)

Two days of commemorations are underway in Poland on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. In a ceremony to honor the 1.5 million people who died there, Polish President Lech Walesa said Auschwitz represents everything about man that is loathsome. The president spoke to heads of state and other representatives of many countries and to international Jewish leaders at a gathering at Wawel Castle, the former residence of Polish kings.

Walesa said the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz symbolizes the darkest corners of the human soul. He said it is a symbol of the desire to kill. Echoing the Jewish slogan, "Never Again," Walesa warned that the genocide carried out by the Nazis could be repeated.

Earlier, the head of the International Auschwitz Committee, Auschwitz survivor Maurice Goldstein, said the former Nazi death camp should be preserved as a permanent scar on the face of Europe.

The head of the American delegation to the Auschwitz liberation commemoration, Elie Wiesel, attended a Jewish religious observance at the Birkenau sub-camp. The gas chambers that killed as many as 8,000 mainly jewish men, women and children each day, and the crematoria that burned the bodies, were located in the Birkenau section.

Jewish leaders insisted on a separate observance. As one of them said at the Jewish religious ceremony, "Only we can shed our own tears; only we can chant our lamentations for our people."

Today, foreign and Polish dignitaries will hold a solemn, official ceremony at Auschwitz. It will begin with the sound of sirens. There will be more speeches and an appeal for peace and tolerance.

Floral wreaths will be laid at the Wall of Death, where thousands of people were brutally shot. Candles will be lit along a ramp where trains unloaded new prisoners, ignorant of their impending fate.

Jewish Souls Celebrate Death and Life

By Wayne Corey (Krakow, Poland)

A visitor to Auschwitz, near the town of Krakow in southern Poland, can quickly feel, as well as understand, what happened here during the Second World War.

There may be no other single place on earth that radiates so much blind hatred, so much monstrous evil, as Auschwitz.

The passage of 50 years since the Soviet army liberated thousands of remaining prisoners from the Nazi death camp has not cleansed the atmosphere.

The Auschwitz death camp was established by Nazi occupation forces in Poland in 1940 to hold members of the Polish resistance. A secondary camp at Birkenau was added two years later, to exterminate European Jews.

An estimated 1.5 million people, mainly Jews, from more than 20 countries died in the gas chambers here. Their bodies were burned in crematoria, some of which still exist.

Prisoners who arrived in good condition were forced to engage in slave labor. When they were no longer useful, the Nazis killed them, too.

One survivor, Menachem Yoskovich, recalls that the German guards simply laughed when they shot at women with children in their arms.

If someone managed to escape, 10 other prisoners were deliberately starved to death in retaliation.

Auschwitz was the most notorious Nazi death camp. Others like Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald were simply not as brutally efficient.

Shortly before Auschwitz was liberated, exactly 50 years ago today, the Nazis forced about 60,000 cold, hungry and sick inmates to begin a long march to Germany. Thousands died along the way.

Until the very end, the Nazis showed no mercy to people they regarded as sub-human. This is why Auschwitz is such an important symbol of terror, humiliation and degradation for Jews everywhere.

People elsewhere probably better understand the meaning of Auschwitz than many Poles do. During the communist rule of Poland, the extermination of the Jews was almost ignored.

Anti-Semitism has hardly been unknown in Poland. Even the Polish Catholic church acknowledges that its own attitudes toward the Holocaust in Poland have not completely matured.

The Jews will never forget Auschwitz because it has become part of the Jewish soul. For non-Jews, Auschwitz should continue to stand as a shocking, almost unbelievable reminder of human barbarianIsm.

The Auschwitz Liberator

By John Pitman (Washington)

Thursday and today mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by Soviet troops. The Soviets' arrival had been expected for weeks -- and nine days before, the Germans had evacuated the camp, taking more than 60,000 prisoners with them. But 7,000 prisoners remained at Auschwitz, as did much of the grisly evidence of more than 1 million mostly Jewish prisoners who had already been killed there. We spoke to a former Soviet soldier, who was one of the first liberators to discover Auschwitz.

The liberation of Auschwitz was not dramatic. The German troops who had run the camp had been gone for more than a week when the first Soviet units arrived. One survivor recalls walking through the deserted camp and coming across what he thought was a pack of furry little dogs sleeping near the open gate.

Then the "dogs" moved, and several Soviet soldiers wearing white camouflage uniforms and large fur hats stood up. The liberation had begun.

Fifty years ago, Naum Reznik was a young officer in the 11th Ukrainian artillery brigade. His unit had one task -- push the Germans all the way back to Berlin. In January 1945 -- as the brigade closed in on Krakow, in Poland -- Reznik was already a four year veteran of the war.

But, he says nothing he had seen in battle could have prepared him for Auschwitz.
"Though I had come through four years of war, and seen and taken part in many fierce battles -- still, I was horrified to see the traces of the crimes committed in Auschwitz: women's hair, bones and demolished crematoria -- it shook us. When I saw those who survived, the sight was just horrifying. And not a single battle of the war could be compared to it."

Reznik remembers feeling uncomfortable looking at the ghost-like figures he encountered in the camp. He says he had expected to find Soviet prisoners-of-war, not civilians -- and certainly not the starving, nearly dead survivors he found at Auschwitz.

But the war did not end with the liberation of Auschwitz. Reznik's unit only had a few hours to rest before pushing west again. Before leaving, Reznik says he and a group of soldiers gathered up a small package of food and medicine, and took it to the camp.

Along with the food, Reznik also carried a message of hope for the Jewish prisoners. "I spoke to them and I told them I was Jewish. They were surprised and happy to hear that. It encouraged them."

Naum Reznik would eventually lead his brigade all the way into Berlin. Now in his 70s, Reznik says he still remembers the rage he felt on leaving the camp, and returning to the war.

Having seen all the traces of the crimes committed in the camps, I was so full of anger. We couldn't even imagine how the Germans -- who we believed were such an educated nation -- could do such things. After that, we fought harder, with more anger, until Germany was defeated."

Reznik was demobilized after the German surrender. He was allowed to emigrate to the US in the 1980s, and has lived in California since then.

A German Jew Speaks Out

By Evans Hays (Bonn)

The Auschwitz death camp in Poland is a symbol of tyranny and horror, a reminder of the dark and not-too-distant past when millions of Jews and others were systematically murdered by the Nazis during World War 2. The leader of Germany's Jewish community, Ignatz Bubis, says he hopes that commemorations this week marking the liberation of Auschwitz will serve as a reminder for those who might all too easily forget the past. Ignatz Bubis is a large, almost bear-like man with a comfortable smile that puts listeners at ease as he discusses what for many Germans is a painful topic -- the Nazi years.

As chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Bubis is a roving ambassador within the country, carrying a message of tolerance and remembrance. He has spoken to tens of thousands of people about the Holocaust and is among the dignitaries attending the commemoration in Auschwitz.

Before leaving for Poland, Bubis spoke about the significance of the Auschwitz events for Germany today and about the awareness young Germans may have concerning their past. Bubis said young people know about the Holocaust, but he is not sure they fully understand its significance.

"They know about the Holocaust. I am not sure if they understand the Holocaust. This has to do, I don't know, if the system of education is done by the right way. I don't know. In my discussions, and I discussed the last two years with more than 200,000 young people in schools, universities and other young organizations, and my feeling is that a part of them, only a part, would like not to listen any more about the time of the Holocaust."

Bubis said his goal is to explain that understanding past events does not mean feeling guilty about them personally. "I am trying to explain (to) them that speaking on the Holocaust, to do everything not to forget what's happened, that this doesn't mean that they are feeling guilt...to feel guilty. If you today

start speaking of the Holocaust with young people, their first
reaction is:  I don't feel guilty.  I said I am  not  making you
feel guilty, but I want you to know what's happened, that in your
generation or in the generation of your kids nothing similar will happen and this is why you should know about this time."

Bubis said the Nazi era is part of more than 1,000 years of German history. He said he tries to explain to young people that their nation's history is not 1,000 years plus or minus the 12 Nazi years.

Asked what he expects to result from the Auschwitz commemoration in Poland, Bubis said some people hope it will symbolize an end to a painful era. But this view, he said, is wrong. "And for some people it will be something like a final act. They would like to make a big commemoration as a final act and then it's finished. There will be a next act on May 8, end of the war, and that's it."

Bubis said he is trying to explain that the commemoration in Auschwitz is not a final act in one chapter of German history. It must, he believes, remain a symbol for the future.

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