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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Argentina's President rips local Jewish community leaders

Two weeks ago, I reported that Israel had expressed shock at an agreement reached between Iran and Argentina to form a 'truth commission' to investigate Iran's and Hezbullah's roles in the 1994 truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Three days later, Argentinian foreign minister Hector Timmerman summoned and dressed down Israeli ambassador Dorit Shavit, claiming that the entire affair was none of Israel's business.
According to Foreign Ministry sources who saw Shavit's account of the meeting, Timerman was "upset and really angry" that Israel had demanded explanations of the Argentine ambassador. He apparently launched into a long monologue in which he assailed Israel for intervening in Argentina's internal affairs and even charged that such behavior encourages anti-Semitism. Shavit was barely able to utter a word in response, as he cut her off repeatedly, according to sources.
"Israel has no right to demand explanations; we're a sovereign state," Timerman reportedly told her. "Israel doesn't speak in the name of the Jewish people and doesn't represent it. Jews who wanted or want to live in Israel moved there, and they are its citizens; those who live in Argentina are Argentine citizens. The attack was against Argentina, and Israel's desire to be involved in the issue only gives ammunition to anti-Semites who accuse Jews of dual loyalty."
Summoning the Argentine ambassador and then leaking the fact to the media was unacceptable behavior, he apparently continued. "Argentina doesn't summon the Israeli ambassador for explanations. If we wanted to, we could summon you here twice a month to demand explanations about a military operation in Gaza or construction in the settlements. But we don't do that, because we don't want to intervene in your sovereign decisions."
Shavit responded angrily, according to sources. "As the Jewish state, Israel views itself as responsible to some degree for the welfare of [all] Jews and tracks anti-Semitism worldwide," she reportedly told Timerman. "Therefore, it helped Jews leave the Soviet Union, brought Jews from Ethiopia and, at times, also helped Jews in Argentina. You surely know what I'm talking about," she apparently added, referring to Timerman's own family history.
In the 1980s, Timerman's father, himself a Jew, was arrested by the right-wing military junta then running the country because he was a journalist who supported the left. He was held in prison in solitary confinement, but was finally released due to the intervention of the Israeli ambassador to Argentina and his staff - some of whom are today senior Foreign Ministry officials. They reached a secret deal with the junta under which Timerman's father would be allowed to leave the country. He moved to Israel for a few years, but returned to Argentina once the junta fell.
Shavit reportedly stressed that Israel wasn't trying to intervene in Argentina's decisions, but it did want explanations, due to the similarity between the AMIA bombing and an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires two years earlier. The Argentine police and security agencies believe that Iran and Hezbollah were behind both bombings. Nevertheless, Timerman decided to play dumb, according to sources.
"I don't know if there's any connection between the two attacks," he apparently said. "If Israel has any such information, I ask that you give it to us as a soon as possible."
On Sunday, Isi Leibler wrote about the AMIA bombing in the Jerusalem Post, accusing the Argentinian government of collaborating with the murderers of their own citizens.
THAT THE Argentinian leaders could collaborate with such a cynical whitewashing of the murder of their own citizens and create a “truth commission” with a wretched, despotic, Holocaust denying regime should lead to the condemnation of the Argentinian government by the civilized world. It should be viewed as even worse than the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez, known to be one of Argentina’s principal allies and funders.

Underlying this move are the economic problems Argentina is facing in relation to its debts to the World Bank and other global institutions. As far back as March 2011, there were media reports alleging that Argentinian Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman had offered to freeze the AMIA inquiry in return for an upgrade in economic relations with Iran. It was also alleged that Timmerman had proposed that Syrian President Bashar Assad could act as an intermediary to facilitate such a deal. A purportedly leaked cable from Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Salehi was quoted stating, “Argentina is no longer interested in solving those two attacks, but in exchange prefers improving its economic relations with Iran.”

The current Argentinian Jewish communal leaders are a far cry from their courageous predecessors who led the community until the 1980s. Yet, despite being intimidated by Timmerman, they still conveyed muted distress concerning their government’s shameful whitewash of the Iranians responsible for the cold-blooded murder of their kinsmen.
Leibler notes Hector Timmerman's cynical and gratuitous role in this affair:
However, a few years later in 1983 [Hector Timmerman's father Jacobo] published a second book brutally attacking Israel’s policies in relation to the Lebanon war and accusing prime minister Menachem Begin of destroying the moral integrity of the Jewish people and transforming Israelis into “efficient criminals.” He compared Israel to the fascist government of Argentina which had incarcerated and tortured him and called for a tribunal of Diaspora Jews to pass moral judgment on Israel’s leaders and the IDF. Shortly after publishing his tirade, he left Israel and died in Buenos Aires in 1999.

His hatred and lack of appreciation to Israel for saving his life was bequeathed to his son, Hector. Prior to becoming foreign minister, Hector’s Jewish background is alleged to have been a major factor contributing to his appointment as Argentina’s consul-general in New York, where he developed relations with influential members of the Jewish community.

As foreign minister, Timmerman presents himself as a devoted supporter of human rights. Yet he played a central role on behalf of the Argentinian regime in sanitizing the Iranian murderer of his own people. Orchestrating such a pact with one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights makes a mockery of his moral pretensions.

He also clearly relishes attacking Israel, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the Jewish state was responsible for saving his father’s life. Only last month, he compared the UK’s control of the Falkland Islands, which Argentina claims, to Israel’s “colonial” control of the West Bank.

But Leibler may have gotten one thing wrong: At least one of Argentina's Jewish leaders is more courageous than Leibler gave him credit for being. And as a result, on Saturday, Argentina's President, Cristina Kirchner, lashed out against that leader.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner publicly attacked the head of Buenos Aires' Jewish community, hinting he was in contact with a "foreign espionage agency that knows of a new terror attack planned against Argentina."
Guillermo Borger, president of the AMIA Buenos Aires Jewish center, said the Argentina-Iran agreement to set up a committee to investigate the 1994 bombing of the center "will allow a third bombing in Argentina." In 1992 the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed.
"This pact is viewed by some people as a step forward. This may be a step to the precipice. It will allow a very unfortunate third attack," warned Borger.
The confrontation between Borger and Fernandez came to a head on Saturday as the president took to the national television airwaves and Twitter to defend the agreement.
"I read with concern the statements made by Guillermo Borger, president of AMIA,on the deal with Iran. What do you know to make a statement so terrible?" Fernandez asked on Twitter. "If there was an attack planned related to the agreement with Iran, who is the mastermind and the material author?"
Argentina is another Jewish community that ought to be thinking about making aliya (many of them did in the 1970's during the Peron era). This is only likely to get worse whether in terms of Kirchner's relationship with the community, her cuddling up to Iran, or the exoneration of mass murderers of Jews. In any event, the message to the Jewish community of Argentina is clear: You're not wanted.

This is actually typical behavior from Kirchner, who has been known to - literally - cuddle with some of the worst dictators the 'international community' has to offer (see the photos at the link). The open disdain for the lives of her own citizens is just a little more brazen.

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At 5:06 PM, Blogger MUSHI said...

Carl I'm glad to tell you: i'm making aliyah this year (i'm from argentina).
It wasn't a very hard decision to make.

At 9:50 PM, Blogger mordechai said...


==""Israel doesn't speak in the name of the Jewish people and doesn't represent it. Jews who wanted or want to live in Israel moved there, and they are its citizens; those who live in Argentina are Argentine citizens."==

Timerman may have been the first to say it, but he may not be the last. Are my/our brothers in hutz la'aretz listening?
mordechai-beer sheva

At 12:44 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Yay, MUSHI! Way to go! After you get there, we need a memoir of your journey.

And mordechai, one step could be for your govt Chief Rabbi to stop delegitimizing the diaspora. He may not approve of the choices Jews make in the diaspora, but a friendly in-drawing could go a long way to reducing the quote you noticed. Need to not create insecurity out in the diaspora, when the Chief Rabbi has drawn a line against a huge swath of people. Israelis may not pay too much attention to it, but many others outside Israel do.


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