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Special Interview the Situation in Argentina

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Although the growth of anti-Semitism and spread of anti-Jewish literature in Argentina have caused a great deal of concern to the Argentinian Jewish community, they nonetheless have confidence in the future and believe that the situation will change.

This assessment was made by Jacobo Kovadloff, the director of the South American office of the American Jewish Committee and for along time active in Jewish affairs in Argentina. Interviewed this week by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Kovadloff, who came to New York for consultations with American Jewish leaders, said the optimism of Argentine Jewry is the result mainly of the strong public statements made by the nation’s leaders denouncing the anti-Jewish propaganda and forbidding the publication of Nazi and anti-Semitic hate literature.

The most publicized action taken by the government was the closing of the Editorial Milicia publishing house in Buenos Aires, the key organization spreading the writings of Nazis and local anti-Semites. But, according to Kovadloff, the notorious activities of Milicia will probably be resumed in the near future under a new name, Ediciones Odal, since the government ban was directed specifically against Milicia.

Kovadloff also explained that Argentinian Jewry believes that the present situation will change because “the majority of the population in Argentina is not anti-Semitic” He pointed out that the general press and the Catholic establishment denounced anti-Semitism in Argentina. Behind the outbursts of anti-Semitism, Kovadloff said, are “small minority groups, right-wingers, who exploit the delicate and unstable political situation to spread hate literature and to attack Jewish institutions.” The most recent attacks were the bombings of the Hebraica center in Buenos Aires and synagogues in Rosario and Cordoba.

RESPONSE BY JEWISH LEADERSHIP

In Kovadloff’s assessment, the Argentinian government, realizing the negative reactions abroad to the wave of anti-Semitism, is in a very sensitive position since the right-wing is an “ally” of the government in its fight against the left-wing. Being aware of the situation, the extreme right-wing found it an ideal time to strike against Argentinian Jewry.

In the face of the growing anti-Semitism, manifested mainly in the spread of books such as the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion and books by Hitler, Goering and other Nazis, the Jewish leadership of Argentina reacted promptly and strongly, Kovadloff said. The Jewish leaders, represented by DAIA, the umbrella organization of Argentine Jewry, issued strong statements, met with top government officials to discuss the situation and decided to continue this activity on a permanent basis, as long as the threat of anti-Semitism prevails.

Describing the more than 400,000 Jews in Argentina as a “middle class community.” Kovadloff noted that the outburst of anti-Semitism did not result in mass emigration to Israel or other countries. He said that emigration is a complicated issue which should be examined on a psychological and sociological level that involves adjusting to a new life and language in another land. He added, however, that the recent events in that country have brought many Jews “closer to Israel.”

“I hope,” he continued, “that in the next month a concrete definition of the situation will emerge and by then we will see if they (the Argentinian authorities) live up to their statements on changing the situation.”

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