Menu JTA Search

Panel on Jewish ‘disappeared’ Has News for One Argentine Family

The Israeli commission investigating the fate of Argentine Jews who disappeared under Argentina’s military government may have information on the fate of one Jew who disappeared in 1976.

The Parliamentary Commission for the Missing Jews in Argentina announced the potential breakthrough Wednesday morning at a news conference in the Israeli Embassy here.

According to Jewish tradition, “he who saves a person saves the whole world,” said Pinchas Avivi, the Foreign Ministry official heading the commission. If the commission can bring peace to at least one family it has accomplished part of its objective, Avivi said.

The relatives of the missing person — whose name was not revealed — gave details to the commission in Israel.

Israel keeps a file on Argentine Jews who were among an estimated 30,000 Argentines who went missing under the military dictatorship, which lasted from 1976 to 1983. At least four people who are searching for “disappeared” family members have testified before the commission in Israel.

The commission was formed in June 2000 on the recommendation of the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee.

The commission recently spent six days in Buenos Aires going over details of cases with the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, a nongovernmental organization that since 1984 has been applying the techniques of forensic anthropology to human rights cases in Argentina.

Cross-checking the information allowed investigators to conclude that the person in question — commission members would not give details or say if it was a man or a woman — is buried under his own name.

“After 25 years, a family will have peace,” Avivi said.

During their six days in Argentina, commission members listened to about 60 testimonies from families who lost loved ones under the military government.

Around 1,300 Jews are listed on a document — that has a total of 15,000 people missing — that recently was updated by the Argentine Justice Ministry.

One of the final testimonies came from Rosa Rosemblit, vice president of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, an organization that searches for disappeared people. She spoke about her granddaughter, whose parents were kidnapped and who was then illegally given to another family to be raised, and who recently was found.

“In addition to searching for the bodies of the missing people, something that seems correct for me, demand justice from the Argentine authorities,” Rosemblit said. “In Argentina, there are brave judges investigating, and we will cooperate with them from the commission,” Avivi said. He also said justice has to be done within Argentina because the country has no extradition agreement with Israel.

After Tuesday’s terror attacks in the United States, the Israeli Embassy — located in Buenos Aires’ busy downtown area — was mostly closed Wednesday.

However, officials decided not to cancel the commission’s news conference “in honor of the missing people and out of respect to their relatives,” Avivi said. But security checks to enter the building were exhaustive.

The commission’s reports will be published in a book in mid-2002.

NEXT STORY