Argentine President Pledges Severe Punishment for Racial Bias
Menu JTA Search

Argentine President Pledges Severe Punishment for Racial Bias

Download PDF for this date

Dr. Arturo Illia, President of Argentina, today promised to “severely punish” cases of racial discrimination in this country. This assurance was voiced by the President when he met with the members of the American Jewish Committee delegation currently on a human relations mission to South America. Morris B. Abram, president of the AJC and leader of the delegation, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that President Illia had also stressed his conviction of the necessity of preserving human rights and opposing all forms of discrimination.

Earlier the delegation called on the Argentine Foreign Minister, Dr. Miguel Angel Zavala Ortiz, and told him that the AJC “had absolutely no objection to Arab cultural activities, “adding that the Arab and Jewish communities in Argentina have been “mutually friendly for a long time.”

Dr. Zavala Ortiz, who three weeks ago, in an exclusive interview with the JTA, minimized the extent of anti-Semitism in Argentina, said that he felt United States press reports had been unfair to him and had “overemphasized” certain facts.


Mr. Abram, in his reply to the Foreign Minister, explained that, while in the United States, Dr. Zavala Ortiz had equated the Arab League’s agitation against the Jews here as “a mere political quarrel” and this gave rise to a misunderstanding, because, Mr. Abram asserted, “you cannot compare Argentine Jews with full citizenship and the right to protection by the government to a group of foreign agents carrying out a campaign of anti-Semitic agitation,”

The AJC delegation also told Dr. Zavala Ortiz that the Jewish people do not have a counterpart of the Arab League which creates antagonism against Arab communities. “Wherever government and church actively oppose anti-Semitism and fight it with concrete deeds,” the AJC delegation declared, “anti-Semitism cannot assume serious proportions.”

Dr. Zavala Ortiz then altered his statement concerning the recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents in Argentina, and echoed Mr. Abram’s views by saying that these incidents had been caused by “foreign agitators, “and that he regretted their occurrence. He took the opportunity to once again emphasize his friendship with many outstanding Jews, and cited his pro-Israel record.


This morning the AJC delegation was received by the Argentine Jewish community, including leaders of DAIA, the central representative body of Argentine Jewry. The acting president of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community, David Klimovsky, stressed the importance of Jewish unity, and suggested that the American Jewish Committee make it its duty to find a common forum for all Jewish international bodies. Mr. Abram warned of the danger of anti-Semitism in the world, and said that its existence anywhere is a menace to all Jews.

In replying to a question asked by Dr. Isaac Goldenberg, president of DAIA, as to whether the AJC is ready to participate in an overall world Jewish organization, Mr. Abram replied that the AJC is ready to join in consultations with other Jewish bodies, but is not willing to enter into “a legislative type process in which minority viewpoint is submerged in the majority.”

The AJC president said that such an over-all Jewish organization could create a “false impression” of Jewish unanimity on ideas where no unanimity exists and that, secondly, the “genius” of the Jewish people lies in its respect for the dissenting view.

Mr. Abram maintained that “it would be a dreadful mistake to create an impression of a supranational world Jewish organzation legislating for the Jewish people. The Jewish people concept is not recognized in international law, and the creation of the impression that such a political concept exists furnishes fuel to fires of anti-Semitism, “Mr. Abram declared.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund