Anti-semitism in Argentina

“Isolated acts” of anti-Semitism do not reflect the feelings the government or people of Argentina and are ‘contrary to the country’s notional tradition,” Interior Minister General Atbono Harguindeguy told leading Jewish community representatives in Buenos Aires last week.

The meeting between the minister and top officials of the DAIA, the umbrella agency of the Argentine Jewish community headed by Dr. Mario Gorenstein, is port of a permanent, on going dialogue Jewish leadership conducts with government officials on matters of Jewish concern, according to Jacob Kovadloff Director of the American Jewish Committee’s Latin American Department. Kovadloff has just returned from a swing through South American Jewish communities on behalf of the AJCommittee.

Some weeks ago, Gen. Jorge Videla, in on interview with on Israeli newspaper, tended to minimize anti-Semitic incidents brought to his attention, Kovadloff said. “Our meetings hove not given us full satisfaction,” Gorenstein declared before the DAIA just a few days ago in discussing the rise in anti-Semitism in Argentina over the post several months.

Observers in Argentina are hopeful for significant improvement both in official Argentine reaction to anti-Semitism and on human rights issues, Kovadloff said, when Gen. Roberto Viola takes over as the notions president next March 20. The DAIA leadership had the opportunity to meet with Viola some time ago, Kovadloff reported.

In their encounters with Vola and Harguindeguy, DAIA leaders complained sharply about the airing of a virulently anti-Jewish program on the “Video show” television series and the desecration of a Jewish cemetery as illustrations of the recent spurt in anti-Semitic activity that had to be combatted.

It is encouraging to note, Kovadloff said, that leading Argentine newspapers such as “Clorin,” “Lo Prensa” and “Lo Nocion,” major Catholic groups and the Argentine Bar Association hove shown spontaneous solidarity and support for Jewish communal denunciations of anti-Semitism. The community is disappointed, however, Kovadloff reported, that Argentine trade unions and leading political figures hove failed to express such support.

The all of Jewish communal leadership for active prosecution and punishment of anti-Semitic acts followed an upsurge of anti-Semitic publications in Argentina Last July too there were bomb attacks on several Jewish schools, fortunately without casualties.

One of the most vicious anti-Semitic publications is the neo-Nazi magazine “Papeles,” issued by the Aryan Nationalist Integral Party. This was supposed to be banned by the government following an earlier meeting between DAIA leadership and the Minister of Interior but the ban never was announced and Papeles continues to appear.

While Argentinian Jewish leaders can and do speak out force fully in the name of the community on issues directly affecting Jews, Kovadloff declared, they feel they con intervene only as individuals when it comes to political and other matters that divide the entire country. Misunderstanding of this position, he said, is probably at the root of charges of inaction sometimes leveled against Argentine Jewish community leaders from abroad.

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