Argentine Jewish leader resigns post after accusations of improper sexual conduct


BUENOS AIRES (JTA) – Argentina’s Jewish political umbrella asked for the resignation of its president over accusations by an Argentine actress of improper sexual conduct.

The Delegation of Argentine Israelites Associations, or DAIA, on Saturday night asked Ariel Cohen Sabban for his resignation, following the public accusation by actress Esmeralda Mitre.

Social media networks in Argentina over Saturday carried several versions of the DAIA president’s private meeting with the actress and his improper sexual conduct, as well as his requests to her for money to help his organization.

The Board of Directors of the DAIA said after a special meeting on Saturday night that it would clarify exactly what happened, but requested Sabban’s resignation due to the public airing of the incident.

Some reports say that Sabban pressured Mitre for money for the umbrella group following an incident last month in which she downplayed the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The actress said in a statement Saturday night that: “I have experienced an unpleasant situation as a woman and as a victim of a request for unlawful money, so that events do not happen again with another person I have made known to those who corresponded so that the necessary measures have already been taken, and since I am not looking for public noise or revenge, I am not going to initiate legal actions, make statements or provide details about the facts, I defend my privacy and my artistic career.”

Three weeks ago, during an interview with the Infobae news website, Mitre relativized the number of victims of the Holocaust. “They said there were 6 million, but maybe there were not that many,” she said. After a meeting at the DAIA headquarters, she apologized publicly and clarified that it was not her intention to “insult the Jewish community. I apologize for having offended the greatest tragedy of humanity.”

The inappropriate sexual advances allegedly occurred at a different time at the actress’ apartment.

Since November 2015 Cohen Sabban was the first representative of the Orthodox Jewish community that was elected to lead DAIA. His three-year term was set to conclude in November and he had already launched a campaign for reelection.

DAIA vice president Alberto Indij, an attorney, will become the new head of DAIA on Monday.

DAIA is made up of 125 Jewish institutions in Argentina and has 25 local branches. It is also the liaison between Argentine Jewry and the national government.

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