Menu JTA Search

Jews in Argentina Demonstrate to Protest Rising Anti-semitism

Tens of thousands of Jewish demonstrators massed in downtown Buenos Aires last week to protest what they see as a rising tide of anti-Semitism in Argentina.

The Jewish community of 250,000 here, by far the largest of any country in Latin America, has been badly shaken by a series of anti-Semitic attacks, including a synagogue bombing and the desecration of cemeteries.

The incidents followed on the heels of the arrest Nov. 13 of fugitive Nazi war criminal Josef Schwammberger, wanted for the mass murder of Jews in Poland during World War II. He was tracked down by Argentine authorities to a hideout in the northern province of Cordoba.

Adding to the alarm and anguish felt by the Jewish community was the recent discovery of the remains of two Jewish businessmen lying side-by-side in a grove outside Buenos Aires. The victims were Osvaldo Sivak and Benjamin Neuman, kidnapped in 1982. A former police inspector has admitted murdering Neuman.

The discovery was a grim reminder of the atrocities committed against Jews and others during the reign of the military junta in Argentina. Now, more recent outrages indicate that anti-Semitism lives on in Argentina, even though the country is now governed by a democratic regime friendly to Jews.

PROTEST DRAWS 30,000

The demonstration against the recent upsurge of anti-Semitism drew some 30,000 Jewish demonstrators to the Plaza Houssay in downtown Buenos Aires last Thursday.

The protestors, some waving Israeli flags, carried signs reading “Violence is the voice of ignorance” and “Let’s get rid of anti-Semitism.” The demonstration was the largest by Jews here in 25 years.

“The Jewish community is meeting here to put a stop to the anti-Semitic violence which has given all Argentines a quotient of disquiet and anguish,” declared David Goldberg, president of the DAIA, the representative body of Argentine Jewry.

He referred to the bombing of a synagogue in the Once neighborhood on Nov. 14, a Saturday, the day after Schwammberger was apprehended. No one was injured in the blast, which damaged the synagogue entrance and shattered windows in the area.

Several days later, gravestones were overturned and defiled in a Jewish cemetery.

NEXT STORY