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Argentine Jews reel from attack

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Swastikas and references to Auschwitz scrawled on the Israeli Center of Ramos Mejia in Buenos Aires, from a Jan. 29 attack. (DAIA)

Swastikas and references to Auschwitz scrawled on the Israeli Center of Ramos Mejia in Buenos Aires, from a Jan. 29 attack. (DAIA)

BUENOS AIRES, Feb. 4 (JTA) — Argentine Jews have been shocked by one of the worst instances of anti-Semitic vandalism they have seen in some time, and by the authorities’ allegedly lackadaisical reaction to it. On Jan. 29, swastikas and references to Auschwitz were daubed on the Israeli Center of Ramos Mejia, in the western outskirts of Buenos Aires, and pamphlets were left denying the Holocaust. Police caught two people in the act of writing on the walls, but they were quickly released. They were described as members of the middle class from Buenos Aires. The Jewish community’s DAIA political umbrella organization issued a statement calling authorities’ conduct in the case “beyond bearing.” They denounced the authorities’ conduct as a violation of Argentine laws against discrimination and asked that the two alleged perpetrators be punished harshly. “We will fight against this. We are shocked; it’s the biggest anti-Semitic event that ever happened here, but we will not stop until we sort this out,” Eduardo Baliner, president of the Ramos Mejia center, told JTA. “We even decided not to clean the walls immediately so neighbors can see and react.” The center has 70 members, and 250 people attend its weekly activities. The center has been supportive of Israeli-Arab peace, even inviting Palestinian officials to speak. In recent years, the center has created a theater group named for Anne Frank. “Argentines seem to be forgetful,” Baliner said. “We had 30,000 missing people” during the military government in power from 1976 to 1983, “we had bombings of the Israeli embassy and the AMIA Jewish central institution. How can we learn form our dramatic history?”

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