Argentina’s former president under fire for ‘consuming oranges from Israel’ comment


(JTA) — Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the former president of Argentina who was indicted while in office for allegedly covering up Iran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center, is under fire from a Jewish group in her country.

The Argentine Zionist Organization took aim at Kirchner, now a candidate for vice president, for using the import of Israeli oranges into the country to target the free trade practices of the current president.

“[President Mauricio] Macri allowed the free import of anything you can think of,” Kirchner said. “With Macri we ended up consuming oranges from Israel, apples from Chile, wines from I don’t know where,” adding that Macri “agreed to everything that the economic sectors demanded.”

The group saw the comment as ironic since Kirchner as president signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran in 2013 to jointly investigate the alleged involvement of senior Iranian officials in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center. In March 2018, she was indicted for covering up Iranian officials’ involvement in the attack.

“It is a paradox of fate that Mrs. Fernandez, promoter of the cover-up Memorandum with Iran, used the example of Israeli oranges,” the Argentine Zionist Organization said in a statement released Tuesday.

The statement suggested that Kirchner not make her political comeback with misleading statistics, “as if buying Israeli oranges were the root of all the ills of our country.”

Kirchner currently serves as a senator representing Buenos Aires. As long as she remains a sitting senator, she has immunity from prosecution in the Iran cover-up case.

The decision to put Kirchner and the former government officials on trial dates back to the accusation made in 2015 by the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who claimed that Kirchner had set up a “parallel communication channel” with Iran in order to avoid incriminating senior Iranian government officials in the bombing. Nisman, who was Jewish, was shot to death just before he was to present his evidence to lawmakers.

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