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New Argentine Interior Minister Vows Fight Against Anti-semitism

Dr. Antonio Troccoli, chosen by President-elect Raul Alfonsin to be the Minister of Interior in the new constitutional government of Argentina, described anti-Semitism as “a barbarian attitude” which “ought to be definitely and forever eliminated from the country,” the World Jewish Congress reported today.

Troccoli’s comments were contained in a lengthy interview published here by the Jewish weekly, “Mundo Israelita” As reported by the Latin American branch of the WJC, he spoke of the determination to protect the freedom and rights of all citizens stressing that “we are adversaries of discrimination of whatever origin — political, racial, or religious — so that we will faithfully respect the freedoms related to persons, faiths and political issues.”

JEWISH COMMUNITY HELD IN HIGH REGARD

Troccoli specifically confronted the issue of anti-Semitism: Anti-Semitism is a barbarian attitude which is marginal in Argentinian society. Fortunately it does not have important dimensions in our country. It is the product of a small group of marginal people, who nurture this xenophobia. The Argentine man in the street, the free citizen, considers the Jewish community as one of the communities which most contributed to the cultural economic and social development of the republic.”

He also spoke positively about the State of Israel: “The State of Israel deserves all our respect. We maintain good international relations. We shall surely improve and deepen them, because we have a deep devotion and respect for the effort which that State made to be created and to defend itself against external attacks.”

The Latin American Branch of the WJC reported that the unexpected avalanche of votes for the Radical Party headed by Alfonsin resulted in the election to Parliament of four Jewish Deputies for the lower chamber (out of a total of 244) and of one Senator (out of a total of 46). Those figures may yet increase with the final count of votes.

In his latest assessment, Prof. Manuel Tenenbaum, executive director of the Latin American branch, said that within the Jewish community the climate of relief and relaxation of tension continues along with optimism concerning the new political era emerging in the country. But some ambivalence is being observed.

ALIYA DROPS SHARPLY

The unexpected presence of Jewish ministers, high level administrators and members of Parliament, is greeted by the community with mixed feelings. On the one hand, there is pride and satisfaction; on the other, the fear that, when difficulties occur, “the Jew” may become the scapegoat.

The number of those interested in aliya has dropped sharply, and it is expected that younger Jews will lose interest in community issues and will, instead, become active in the general field.

Another development that has clouded the picture concerns foreign policy. The future Foreign Minister, Dante Caputo, stated to the Kuwait News Agency that the constitutional government of Argentina would recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the “legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” adding, however, that it would not be granted diplomatic status.

The return to democracy will give Argentina a much more significant role in Latin America, Tenenbaum noted. It is likely that Argentina will exert a greater influence on the continent, and the attitudes which the Alfonsin government takes in international politics will have great repercussions. Israeli diplomats and the Jewish community are waiting — not without some concern — for the formulation of Argentina’s new government’s position on the issues of the Middle East.

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