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>Israel Faxx
>JN Oct. 9. 1997, Vol. 5, No. 184

Socialite Who Helped Jews is Mourned

American socialite Mary Jayne Gold died Sunday, after an exemplary career just prior to World War 2, in helping many intellectual Jews escape Hitler's solution to the "Jewish problem." The committee she founded rescued 1,000 artists, writers and others. The list reads like a Who's Who -- painters Marc Chagall and Max Ernst, sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, authors Hannah Arendt, Hans Habe and Franz Werfel and Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Otto Meyerhof. Gold's passing at the age of 88 is mourned as much as her selfless, glorious life is celebrated.

Papon Nazi Trial Gets Under Way

By Julian Nundy (VOA-Bordeaux)

The trial of 87-year-old Maurice Papon, a former French government budget minister accused of active involvement in the deportation of Jews from France to Nazi death-camps during World War 2, has opened in Bordeaux. But it quickly adjourned to examine a defense request to allow Papon to remain at liberty during the case.

The first day of the trial was adjourned after only two hours when Jean-Marc Varaut, Papon's lawyer, asked for his client to be allowed to remain at liberty during the trial. Normally, defendants facing serious charges in France are always held in prison during their trials. Varaut argued that his client is too old and weak and might not survive several weeks in jail.

Varaut said, Papon suffered the beginnings of suffocation during his first night in a cell. In addition, he was disturbed by warders turning on his cell light as he slept and by insults shouted by other prisoners.

Papon is accused of organizing the rail convoys that took some 1,600 Jews from Bordeaux to death camps. As a senior civil servant, he signed documents but never actually saw the victims.

The basis of Papon's defense is clear. He says that he only knew that the convoys were going to Drancy in the Paris suburbs. From there, the Jews were later taken east to concentration camps. Papon says he knew nothing of the death camps and that he tried to improve the Jews' conditions of transport.

The prosecution and lawyers for families of those who were deported will try to prove that Papon was aware of what was happening and knowingly participated in genocide.

The trial was adjourned until today to allow the court to seek medical advice. Lawyers for victims' families and the prosecutor said they will oppose any concessions for Papon.

Already he was allowed to enter the court without handcuffs and was driven from his prison in a police limousine, rather than in the usual prison van. The trial is expected to last about two-and-a-half months.

Arafat and Netanyahu Meet at Midnight

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat have held a midnight summit, which the chief US mediator called a new beginning for the peace process. It was their first meeting in eight months, and while they did not announce any progress on key disputes, they did agree to hold regular summits and to expand the lower-level talks on various issues which resumed Monday.

The two leaders did not speak to reporters after the meeting, but the senior US mediator, Dennis Ross, did. "It was a very good meeting. It was a meeting in which both of them re-affirmed their commitment to work together to overcome all problems, all differences. They re-affirmed their commitment to achieve peace and security. I think, at one point, they also emphasized that they saw this as a new beginning between the leaders, and indeed a new beginning for the process."

At the midnight summit, the leaders also decided to postpone until the end of the month meetings which were to have been held in Washington next week. Those talks are to discuss the suggestion for a time-out made by Secretary of State Nadeleine Albright. She says both sides need to suspend policies the other side finds objectionable to improve the atmosphere for talks on the tough issues which lie ahead, including Palestinian statehood and the future of Jerusalem.

Some analysts say there may be a new incentive for progress. On Monday, the Hamas spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, returned to Gaza after nearly 10 years in an Israeli prison. Some experts believe the militant and charismatic Sheikh's return gives Arafat and Netanyahu a new and compelling reason to demonstrate that their peace process is working.

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