Argentinian priest repudiated for alleged anti-Semitic slur


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — An Argentinian priest is being repudiated for allegedly making an anti-Semitic slur during a sermon.

The Rev. Oscar Belli, a priest in the province of Entre Rios, said during his sermon at the Sept. 25 Mass at the Itatí Church that “Jews are such liars that they have their souls rotten to the bones,” according to Rita Beatriz Arcusin, a Jewish woman who had accompanied an ill friend to the Mass. Arcusin reported the incident to the Human Rights Provincial Secretary.

The chairman of the local Jewish Association, Fernando Kohon, speaking on the Argentinian Jewish radio station Radio Jai, said he would meet with the bishop of the diocese to talk about the case. Kohon said Belli “is a well-known priest” and “we did not have any kind of problems with him before.”

DAIA, the Jewish umbrella organization, in a statement said that Belli’s words have “a clear Judeophobic tone."

“This kind of discriminatory speech does nothing but generate prejudice and calls for intolerance and hatred among Argentinians, preventing the development of full citizenship, respectful of pluralism and diversity," the DAIA statement said. 

Entre Rios, which borders on the south to the province of Buenos Aires, was home to the first Jewish agricultural colony in Argentina, called Moises Ville, which was founded in 1889 and was the birthplace of the Jewish gauchos.

According to a recent opinion poll commissioned by DAIA and the Anti-Defamation League, 45 percent of respondents would never marry a Jew” and 30 percent "would not live in a neighborhood with a large presence of Jews." The survey also showed that four out of 10 respondents have a negative opinion of “Jews being involved in politics” and five out of 10 think that “Jews talk too much about the Holocaust.”

The University of Buenos Aires conducted the survey, which interviewed more than 1,500 people from across the country.

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