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Argentine Political Figures Repudiate Anti-semitism

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Leaders of the main political parties of Argentina, including the Peronists and the opposition Radical Civic Union, have signed a manifesto categorically repudiating anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, a leadership delegation of the country’s Jewish community held a private meeting with President Renaldo Bignone, during which they expressed concern at the recent outbreak of anti-Semitism in the country, it was reported by the Latin American branch of the World Jewish Congress here.

The manifesto, which was signed by distinguished politicians and intellectuals and published in the press, appealed “to the citizens to repudiate every anti-Semitic attempt against basic tenets of the Argentine Constitution, the basis of national coexistence.” The signers noted a renewal of anti-Semitism and racism “expressed through various publications, violence against Jewish schools, and attacks on cultural institutions and synagogues.”

The manifesto stressed that “public opinion should be aware of the fact that anti-Semitism, which is deplorable in itself, is a means of destabilizing democratic regimes and puts in motion authoritarian mechanisms.” It further warned that “in times of crisis anti-Semitism and other forms of racist discrimination are used by elements who oppose pluralism as a form of life and democratic tolerance.”

Among the political party leaders who signed the statement were Deolindo Felipe Bittel (Peronists), Raul Alfonsin (Radical Civic Union), and Oscar Alende (Intransigent Party).

PRESIDENT MEETS WITH JEWISH LEADERS

The meeting between Bignone and representatives of the Delegacion de Asociaciones de Israelitas Argentinas (DAIA), the central representative body of Argentine Jewry, was approved by the President five months after the Jewish leaders requested it. At the meeting, the DAIA representatives, led by the organization’s president, Dr. Sion Cohen Imach, expressed the concern of the community “at the anti-Semitic outbreak lately noticed in the country.”

They spoke of the proposed Article 213 of the Penal Code which outlaws any form of racial or religious persecution. This item was dropped from legislation during the government of Gen. Juan Carlos Ongania and the DAIA leaders stressed that it would enhance the prestige of the present government to have it reinstated.

The issue of anti-Semitism in Argentina was also the subject of a meeting early last month between DAIA leaders and Undersecretary of the Interior Guillermo Lascano Quintana. At that time, Cohen Imach detailed numerous anti-Semitic incidents that had taken place in the previous three months, including anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of synagogues, threats against Jewish schools, and the proliferation of anti-Jewish publications and periodicals, Lascano Quintana promised the Jewish leaders that the government will investigate the situation and take measures to prevent their recurrence.

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