Nobel Prize Winner Decries Anti-semitism in Argentina

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, winner of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for his struggles on behalf of human rights, stated that there is "systematic anti-Semitic activity" in Argentina which "must be overcome" in an article in Argumento, the news organ of President Raul Alfonsin’s Radical Party.

The World Jewish Congress-Latin American Branch reported that this article is one of a number of such pieces included in an unprecedented feature section in the newspaper on Argentinian anti-Semitism. The other pieces were written by prominent members of the Jewish community: Herman Schiller and Marshall Meyer, of the Jewish Movement for Human Rights; and Dr. Nehemias Resnizky, former president of the DAIA, the central representative body of Argentine Jewry and the WJC affiliate here.

Perez Esquivel described the long history of anti-Semitic persecution around the world, noting that "till today humanity is moved by the massacre of millions of Jews in concentration camps, the Warsaw Ghetto and the moving witness of Anne Frank."

SAYS THERE IS SYSTEMATIC ANTI-SEMITIC ACTIVITY

He expressed the view that there is an absence of knowledge among Argentines in general about the Jewish community and stressed the need to "admit the existence of racial discrimination" in the country. "In a country which proclaims the non-existence of racial or religious problems, there is discrimination and there is systematic anti-Semitic activity, of which recent attacks against Jewish children in a school and those against a synagogue are a demonstration."

Perez Esquivel observed that the situation became especially acute under the 10 years of military rule and related the story of the arrest during one of his human rights marches in Argentina of a Jewish boy among those who were detained. "He was the most punished and insulted for the simple fact of being Jewish. He was threatened and his captors lamented that there were no crematoria here."

He concluded: "Racial, cultural and religious discrimination of the Jewish community must be overcome by education and by the contribution of the Jewish community itself, to develop fraternal co-existence, so that we may all recognize each other, in our mutual respect and identity, as members of the great family of man."

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