BUENOS AIRES, Sept. 21 (JTA) – Jewish leaders in Argentina are warning that recent vandalism at a Jewish cemetery near Buenos Aires should not be used as a tool in the country’s presidential campaign. The comments came after vandals desecrated 63 tombs at the Cemetery of La Tablada, which has been the target of similar attacks in the past, the most recent in December 1997. Carlos Menem, Argentina’s president, called the attack “an act to be condemned in every sense.” This latest act of vandalism comes almost a month before the presidential elections and intensifies the scrutiny on local police. The governor of the province, Eduardo Duhalde, one of the two leading presidential candidates, has already been damaged by a botched hostage rescue, and four officers have been accused of participating in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center that killed 86 people. Both Duhalde and Fernando de la Rua, the leading presidential candidate, expressed solidarity with the Jewish community. The cemetery was vandalized despite assurances by the country’s security secretary that Jewish institutions would receive additional protection during the High Holidays. Other Jewish cemeteries were also vandalized in the provinces of Entre Rios, Salta and Cordoba. No anti-Semitic writings were found in the latest attack, however, and it has not been labeled a hate crime.
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