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Jews In Argentina

.. on the Russian front and with killing Jews while commanding an extermination group. In 1992, a reporter from the local Clarin newspaper photographed the Dutchman at his home in suburban Buenos Aires. Anti-Semitic Activities Neo-Nazi individuals and groups continued to operate openly in Argentina, supported by a wide circle of sympathizers. The well-known neo-Nazi Alejandro Biondini, who has been active since the 1980s, leads one of the two main nationalistic right-wing parties, Partido Nuevo Triunfo (New Triumph Party — PNT).

He served a jail term in 1996, under Anti-Discrimination Law No. 25.592, for displaying a swastika on the cover of his publication Libertad de Opinin. In 1998 Biondini put this publication on the Internet, becoming one of the first neo-Nazis in Argentina to disseminate his ideas via this medium. Alejandro Ivan Franze, leader of the Partido Nuevo Orden Social Patritico (New Order Social Patriotic Party — PNOSP), formed in 1996, has succeeded in attracting nationalistic right-wing figures from smaller groups to his organization. The party, which is basically a skinhead group, aspires to participate in national elections.

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At present, it organizes military-style parades and gatherings, for example, on so-called Sovereignty Day, commemorating the Falklands-Malvinas war, when marchers sport neo-Nazi uniforms and symbols and perform the fascist salute. The police have not, so far, intervened. Despite Menem’s sympathetic policies and a democratic regime, the Jews of Argentina were targets of two major terrorist attacks. The Israeli Embassy was bombed in April 1992, killing 32 people. In 1994, the Jewish community headquarters in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing more than 100 people and wounding at least 200 others.

The community’s archives were destroyed in the bombing and the event left many emotionally scarred. Though Iran was suspected of involvement with the help of Argentine police, the culprits have never been found. On another occasion, spectators at a soccer game in Buenos Aires jeered at the members of a visiting Jewish team, hurled neo-Nazi epithets at them and threw bars of soap on the playing field-in direct reference to the myth that the Nazis produced soap made from the bodies of their Jewish victims. The year 1999 was marked by a decrease in anti-Semitic incidents compared with previous years. Nevertheless, several serious incidents were recorded, including the planting of two explosive charges at the entrance of the homes of two Jewish families in Paran in August 1999. The charges were discovered after anonymous calls to the homes of the families and the police.

In addition, there were two major desecrations of Jewish cemeteries, one on 19-20 September, when 63 graves were desecrated in the main Jewish cemetery La Tablada, and another on 30 September when 12 graves were vandalized in the old Jewish cemetery of Ciudadela. In both cases, the DAIA claimed that, once again, police of the Province of Buenos Aires were targeting the Jewish community as part of their resistance to reforms in the police force. Five other desecrations of Jewish cemeteries took place during 1999, including in the city of Mendoza, where 20 gravestones were Four Jewish institutions in the Jewish neighborhood of Once in Buenos Aires received anti-Semitic leaflets in April 1999. The text, printed on colored paper, with a large swastika in the middle, contained veiled anti-Semitic references. Several anonymous false bomb threats were received, the most alarming at the AMIA community building in December, which had to be evacuated. Others were reported at the Keren Hayesod building in July and at the Yavneh school in Buenos Aires in October. A telephone threat to “blow up the cursed Jews” resulted in the cancellation of the premiere of Fiddler on the Roof in October in the city of Tucumn. vi Legal Activity In June 1999 the judicial authorities, acting on information they had received from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, began investigating the activities of Walhalla SRL, a publishing house in San Luis province, which is accused of selling and distributing videos and books containing Nazi ideology.

Much of the material in question, such as the Nazi movie The Eternal Jew, is prohibited under the anti-discrimination law. In another case involving the Verdad y Justicia (Truth and Justice) movement, which was allegedly linked to previous desecrations of the La Tablada cemetery, Miguel Angel Russo was given a jail term in October under the anti-discrimination law, for publishing and disseminating anti-Semitic propaganda. Russo is the only Argentinean citizen currently in prison for anti-Semitic activities. In May 1999 the DAIA demanded the dismissal of the three judges who nullified the verdict of a lower court judge in the 1995 case of a skinhead attack, accompanied by anti-Semitic insults, against a non-Jewish youth. The judge had sentenced the three skinheads to prison terms. Judges Bisordi, Basavilbaso and Catuchi, who overturned the sentence argued that the term “dirty Jews” was a general war cry used by such youths, with no anti-Semitic intention. The DAIA’s call was supported by the Permanent Assembly for Human Overly anti-Semitic attacks are only one type of problem currently facing South America’s largest Jewish community.

A more existential crisis has been the recent financial troubles facing the community’s institutions. During the 1990s the government’s privatization reforms had a sharply negative impact on the economic status of the urban middle class. Many Jewish business owners have lost their shops and are unable to pay membership or tuition fees to local Jewish institutions and synagogues. These communal institutions now faced declining membership and budgets to maintain their activities and services. In addition, several well-known private banks, which were under Jewish ownership until recently and which were strong financial supporters of Jewish institutions, have been dissolved or sold. The well-developed Jewish day school system is seen as being especially vulnerable to these financial problems.vii Jews are active in all sectors of Argentine society and many are prominent figures in the arts, film, music and journalism.

Some influential Argentine Jews include: writer Jacobo Timmerman, owner of a local newspaper who campaigned for human rights; Rene Epelbaum, who founded a protest group for mothers of political prisoners; pianist Daniel Barenboim and conductor Ceszar Milstein.i The future of the Jewish community in Argentina is hard to predict. Outward migration, assimilation and intermarriage have all had their negative effects on the community, as have the recent financial crises and various anti-Semitic attacks. On the other hand, Jewish involvement in Jewish life-both religious and organizational-has continued and in some ways intensified. Bibliography Bibliography 1. Geller, Doron. The Capture of Adolf Eichmann. Jewish Virtual Library. 2.

Institute of the World Jewish Congress. Community of the Month:Argentina. 3. Kiernan, Sergio. Speculaion grows about Peron giving Nazis refuge. Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. December 1996 4. Kiernan, Sergio. Nazis of all nations enjpying life in Argentina, report says. Jewish Bulletin of Northern California.

June 1996 5. Kiernan, Sergio. Report shows 180 Nazis found refuge in Argentina after WWII. Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. December 1999 6.

The Simon Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism. Anti-Semitism Worldwide 1999-2000: Argentina. tm 7. Weiner, Rebecca. Argentina. Jewish Virtual Library. History Essays.


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