Argentine Jews Concerned over Anti-semitism and Weakening of Argentine-israeli Relations

A year-and-a-half after the democratic change in regime in Argentina, the recurrence of anti-Semitism and the weakening of Argentine-Israeli relations have come to be major concerns of Jewish communal leadership here, the World Jewish Congress reported today.

According to the Latin American branch of the WJC, the Jewish community remains one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Alfonsin government but its enthusiasm has been tempered by its concern with not only rising anti-Semitism in the country but a perceptible shift away from Israel by Argentina in its Middle East policy.

These Jewish fears were expressed during a meeting between the Minister of Interior, Antonio Troccoli, and representatives of the DAIA, the representative body of Argentine Jewry and the WJC affiliate here. Following the meeting, the President of the DAIA, David Goldberg, told reporters:

“There is an anti-Semitic escalation in the country, with a clear anti-democratic connotation, which finds expression in attacks against synagogues, Jewish schools and cultural centers, graffiti in central streets, and anonymous telephone and written threats against leaders and other members of the community.”

Goldberg noted that during a recent soccer game a Nazi banner with a swastika was raised. “All this does not just happen. It is a well-orchestrated campaign undertaken by anti-democratic sectors and this is why society as a whole must forcefully react to such incidents.” He added: “We know that anti-Semitic organizations are active in Argentina.”

ISSUE OF ALFONSIN’S VISIT TO ISRAEL

The Jewish community has also been shaken by the non-fulfillment of the planned visit of President Raul Alfonsin to Israel, the WJC further reported. Since the beginning of the year it had been understood that the head of the Argentine government would visit the Jewish State in June either before or after his presence in Geneva to address the International Labor Organization.

However, hardly had Alfonsin ended his American tour when the Foreign Ministry announced that “it had never been foreseen that the President would make an official visit to Israel,” which in turn led to a statement by the Israeli Ambassador that “the invitation (to visit Israel) had been accepted” but no definite date had been set.

Third World expectations about Argentine diplomacy evidently prevailed in this matter, and in particular, considerations concerning United Nations votes and the role which Argentina believes it can play among the non-aligned countries. Since the inauguration of the democratic government, on 74 UN issues concerning Israel, Argentina voted negatively on 71 cases and abstained on three.

“The DAIA faces the dilemma of maintaining its firm policy of support for the democratic regime of Argentina while necessarily finding the means to oppose those increasingly worrisome developments which are harmful to the community’s well-being,” Manuel Tenenbaum, director of the WJC Latin American branch, said.

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