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Argentina prexy skips ‘List’

BUENOS AIRES — President Carlos Menem’s office Wednesday shrugged off charges that he snubbed Jewish groups when he failed to attend the Argentine opening of Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust epic, “Schindler’s List.”

“The president doesn’t have to give excuses if he doesn’t feel like going to the movies.

He scratched because he was tired, and that’s that,” an aide said. “If the president wants to see a film, he has it shown at Olivos (the official residence).”

Jewish leaders expressed disappointment that Menem wasn’t present at the Tuesday night opening in Buenos Aires, at which Emilie Schindler, widow of the movie’s hero, was the star guest.

Emilie, whose husband Oskar saved 1,200 Jews from the Holocaust, had already seen the movie at the world premiere in the United States, attended by President Clinton.

Menem, who was born of Syrian Muslim parents, Tuesday attended an Intl. Women’s Day celebration, which ended half an hour before the movie screening was scheduled to begin, but had no other official engagement.

Local analysts believe Menem refused to sit in the same hall as representatives of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights group, who were guests.

The group, made up of women whose sons and daughters were killed in Argentina’s so-called Dirty War against leftist guerrillas in the 1970s, has been critical of Menem for his pardon of military leaders convicted of ordering Dirty War killings.

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