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Argentine Leaders Say There is No Discrimination Against Jews

Argentine President Jorge Rafael Videla and Foreign Minister Oscar Montes, responding to questions on persistent manifestations of vicious anti-Semitism in Argentina, insisted here that Argentina does not discriminate against Jews.

The two leaders were in Washington last week for ceremonies attendant to the signing of the Panama Canal treaties. Videla met with two small groups of especially selected media representatives and Montes granted an interview to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last Thursday. The meetings were held at the Argentine delegation’s suite in the Madison Hotel.

Coincidentally, their meetings with the media followed publication earlier in the day of reports from Buenos Aires quoting an Argentine army communique that five members of a Jewish family were in detention for alleged connections with leftist elements.

JEWISH FAMILY DETAINED

The communique, issued by the army high command in Buenos Aires, said: “The army wishes to inform the population that the five persons are under detention in the Cordoba region because of an investigation into presumed connections to subversives.”

Previously, the authorities refused to comment on the disappearance of Alejandro Deutsch, 57, his wife, Elena, 56, and their three daughters, Elizabeth, 27, Susana, 23, and Liliana, 17. Sources in Cordoba, where Deutsch was engaged in the sale of air conditioners, said the family members were dragged from their home at one o’clock in the morning on Aug. 27 by 12 armed men and have not been heard about, except for the army communique. A sister of Deutsch was said to be the wife of an American, Jerry Alberts of Los Angeles.

The Deutsch affair has aroused feelings here that this is another case of anti-Semitism that includes kidnappings. The Argentine representative of the American Jewish Committee, Jacobo Kovadloff, fled to the United States with his family last July after threats against his life. The AJCommittee has closed that office after 29 years of operating in Buenos Aires.

ASSERTS ARGENTINA IS NOT A NAZI STATE

Responding to a question from a non-Jewish European reporter, Videla said that Argentina is not a Nazi state. He expressed himself as “very grateful” for the cultural contributions of the “great” Jewish community. Lately, he said, Jewish names have appeared in activities inimical to the state and the image of Argentina has become deformed by apprehensions that there may be discrimination against Jews.

Montes told the JTA that “military justice” is invoked against the Deutsch family “because it is related to terrorism and not because they may be Jews.” He emphasized Argentina has no discrimination on the basis of race or creed. “There is no anti-Semitic cult in my country,” he said. “That can be checked with the normal life in the Jewish community. There is no interference with its cult or creed.”

In this connection, he recalled that an anti-Jewish publication, “Cabildo,” was suspended by the government “to avoid problems with the Jewish community.” He added: “I can guarantee in the name of the Argentine government there is no kind of religious discrimination in my country.”

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