President of Argentina Says His Regime is Free of Anti-semitism

Gen. Juan Carlos Ongania, President of Argentina, asserted vigorously today, in an interview with an Israel journalist, that imputations of anti-Semitism against his military regime were without foundation. The President discussed the issue and Argentine-Israeli relations at length during a meeting with Moshe Ron, general secretary of the Israeli Press Association.

He told the Israeli that he found himself in a dilemma about answering such questions. He said about charges of anti-Semitism “please excuse me for speaking frankly, Such a question is a barbarity and to ask it is to hurt this Government.” He had previously spoken with favor about proposals for establishment in Israel of an Argentine House. He told the Israeli that “it is not possible that we should speak of an Argentine House in Israel” and speak “at the same time about anti-Semitism in Argentina.”

He indicated he regarded such questions as insulting, even if they posed specific points, such as what activities constituted anti-Semitism and if there was such a manifestation in his government, what was its degree. But, he said, questions on the issue often were, in his opinion, motivated by the “wish to hurt and damage” in an expression of attitudes “that we sometimes reject openly, even with a certain degree of pronounced displeasure.”

EXPRESSES BELIEF THAT ARGENTINA HAD NEVER BEEN ANTI-SEMITIC

He challenged such questioners to produce evidence that his government practiced anti-Semitism and expressed the belief that Argentina had never been anti-Semitic because “if sometimes there were such activities, they were a completely isolated fact which was openly divorced from Argentine feelings. ” He said that even in moments of greatest “convulsion” in Argentine politics “there did not exist a real anti-Semitic pronouncement in this country but only some isolated manifestation, outside of any Argentine feeling.”

Gen. Ongania expressed regret over the postponement by President Shazar of Israel of his scheduled trip to Argentina last summer during Mr. Shazar’s tour of Latin America. Reiterating that he considered the matter a postponement and not a cancelation, President Ongania said he anticipated that the visit, when rescheduled, would be “an event which will reaffirm once more the good relations and good feelings between the Israeli and Argentine peoples.”

Gen. Ongania hailed Israeli technical cooperation with Argentina in the fields of agriculture and irrigation and added he favored such cooperation not only in those two areas but also in industry. He noted that Israel was “actively engaged in intensive development plans with highly advanced technical methods “and said that such methods could well serve “plans for our own development.”

He described the proposed Argentine House in Israel as “a synthesis of the fullest understanding of any kind now existing between the Israeli and Argentine peoples,” not only from the standpoint of his Government but also in response “to the feelings of the entire Argentine people.”

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