BUENOS AIRES (Jul. 14)
A high official of the People’s Radical Party, the Government party in Argentina, declared yesterday that the party would “do everything in its power” to fight the country’s rising anti-Semitism.
He made the statement in connection with indications that the party was organizing efforts to block a proposal by a Peronist deputy for a Congressional investigation of Jewish organizations and their ties with Israel. The proposal was made by Juan Carlos Cornejo Linares in terms which Jewish spokesmen called openly anti-Semitic.
“There is no room for racial discrimination on the political scene,” the official said. “It is not proper and the Government party will do everything in its power to fight it.” His assurance was supported by Miguel Ortiz, the Foreign Minister, who said that the People’s party had a history of battling for civil rights and religious equality. He stressed this was recognized by leaders of the Argentine Jewish community.
The Foreign Minister cited as an example of that policy the fact that President Arturo Illia set a precedent when he invited a rabbi and a Protestant minister to be present on the reviewing stand with Catholic clergy for the July 9 Independence Day celebration. Dr. Guillermo Schlesinger, Chief Rabbi of Congregation Israelite, was the official Jewish representative.
Government spokesmen have insisted that the anti-Jewish campaign was restricted to small though financially strong groups of nationalist extremists. More recently, both Government and opposition party leaders appeared to have decided that the time had come to challenge the repeated statements of such propaganda. Previously, former President Arturo Frondizi said his followers in Congress would strongly oppose the Peronist proposal.
Argentine Jews are concerned about the gap between such official reassurances and the record of police in carrying out orders to arrest persons involved in anti-Jewish incidents. Herzl Gesang, acting chairman of the DAIA, the central body of Argentine Jews, said that after months of investigation, police announced the arrest of two youths, 15 and 17 years old, who confessed they were guilty of 148 such incidents. He added that the police had indicated they were satisfied that the arrests and confessions ended the case. “But we are certain that these youths are part of a well-organized group that seems to be immune to prosecution,” he declared.