29 November 2009

The Murder of 3,000 Argentina Jews and the silence of Israel's leaders

This is an excerpt from a pamphlet written nearly 20 years ago by me, ‘Anti-Semitism and Its Zionist Shadow’. It relates to the despicable silence, and indeed connivance, of the Israeli State in the murder of socialist and left-wing Jews by the Hitler-loving Generals and their Secret Police.

Tony Greenstein

Argentina has the highest Jewish population in South America, some 400,000. In Herzl’s booklet, ‘Der Judenstaat’, two areas are mentioned as possible sites for Jewish settlement, one of which was Argentina. Baron M Hirsch, the railroad millionaire who Herzl negotiated with in vain, spent large sums of money via his Jewish Colonisation Agency establishing Jewish settlements in Argentina, then a relatively undeveloped country open to colonisation, except in the immediate area around Buenos Aires. Although it achieved nominal independence from first Spain then Britain, it has always been economically dominated by imperialism. It is in this context that Peronism which sought rapid industrialisation at the expense of the agricultural sector, took off, building a political base in the unions that it helped create and sustain against the old vested interests.

Until the latter stages of the 2nd World War, Argentina had been neutral though its neutrality was of the pro-Nazi variety and only when German defeat was imminent, did Argentina formally come out in favour of the Allies. Peronism, which helped create unions rather than smash them, could not be described as fascist, though the regime he presided over -with reforms from the top- had a decidedly corporatist and militarist approach. In the mid-fifties Peron was overthrown and in his place there was a rapid succession of Generals and coups. Peronism, having existed in an era of a world boom, presided over rapid economic expansion, hence his room for reform with the result that Peronism gained a mass base, which split into a left and right in the sixties and early seventies.

In 1973 Peron resumed power in vastly different political and economic circumstances, with the Montoneros - a powerful guerrilla group - conducting a war against military and business leaders. When Peron died, his second wife took over in March 1976 and before long the Army formally took over under General Videla. Argentina had since the end of the 2nd World War been a refuge for escaping Nazi criminals and with the Junta there came ‘an all-embracing arsenal of Nazi ideology as part of its structure. [‘Prisoner Without A Name, Cell Without A Number’ Jacobo Timmerman, 1980,Weidenfeld].

The ‘dirty war’ had arrived, and with it some 30 000 Argentinians were to die under army detention and torture and then to ‘disappear, dumped during the reign of terror of the generals. Between 1 500 and 3 000 of these were Jews. At the same time as there was a high profile campaign over Soviet Jewry, and not even the most ardent anti-communist Zionist would claim that Soviet Jews were being tortured to death in their hundreds, hardly a word was issued by the Zionist movement or the Israeli state.

The person who helped bring many of these issues to the attention of the world was Jacobo Timmerman, a liberal Zionist and editor of the equally liberal ‘La Opinion’. Arrested and tortured, he was expelled and went to live in Israel in October 1979. Although a large Jewish community, the communal organisation, Daia, was supported by very few and dominated by the Zionist parties (Labour Alignment/Mapam).

The trials recently of the Generals of the Junta demonstrate what kind of creatures they were. In particular General Viola was held to be the ideological formulator of the Junta’s actions - its most articulate exponent. Yet in its efforts to maintain that nothing was happening, the American Jewish Congress sent a delegation to him just before his inaug-uration as President:
Delegation members appeared impressed with General Viola’s knowledge of Jewish affairs, which he said, came from his contacts with Daia, the representative organisation of Argentinian Jews, as well as from Israeli diplomats in his country and family and personal ties.
And he went on to make the ritual promise of an end to the distribution of neo-Nazi literature. [Jewish Chronicle. 27. 3. 1981. ‘Viola Gives Pledge of Anti Hate Action.’]

We should bear in mind that at the time, anti-Semitic papers such as ‘Papeles’ were proclaiming Buenos Aires to be the “capital of the Aryan world” and adorning their covers with pic-tures of Hitler and Mussolini, Tributes to the ‘martyrs’ of the Nurem-burg Trials filled their pages. As Hugh 0’Shaughnessy noted from Buenos Aires, the appearance of this magazine - alongside the older and equally virulent anti-Semitic monthly, Cabildo, is seen here as an indication that the military Government of General Viola is stepping up its campaign against Argentina’s 300,000 Jews. Both Papeles and Cabildo link the Jews with communism and blame both for the international outcry over human rights violations in Argentina.

At a time when no newspaper seller would risk trying to sell any magazine of the outlawed left or the combative wing of the Peronist movement, the continuing circulation of Fascist and anti-Semitic magazines, with the connivance of the authorities is regarded as underlining the growth of extreme tendencies in the Videla Government...

Earlier this year bombs exploded in various Argentine synagogues and Jewish schools and there were threats of violence against Jews generally. No culprits have been found...

The Daia, a confederation of Jewish organisations is generally unwilling to make public statements though its leaders have had private meetings with the authorities to discuss the problems of the Jews. Public protests, Jewish leaders argue, would just make a bad situation worse. [Observer 30.1.1980.]

The Daia adopted the policy, so beloved of the Judenrat and the Kehillot before them, of silent pleading at best and craven support. Timmerman who, when he went to Israel was to denounce, in no uncertain terms the War unleashed against the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples, [The Longest War, Pelican, 1982, Timmerman] was unremitting in his denunciation of the timidity if not outright collaboration of the Daia:
'I would forget my torturers, I declared, but never the Jewish leaders who acquiesced calmly in the torturing of Jews.' [Prisoner Without A Name, JC 31. 7. 81 (extracts).]
In his commentary on extracts from his book in the Jewish Chronicle, the editor Geoffrey D Paul, writes regarding an apparent dilemma:

But how are we to explain the Jewish attacks on Timmerman in the United States? Some of them, undoubtedly have been inspired from conservative circles in the Jewish community, which have been convince by a campaign of rumour and innuendo that Timmerman was in league with Left-wing terrorist groups opposed to the Argentine military and that he ‘asked for what he got.’ [Ibid.]

Paul quite adequately demolishes this particular lie and dismisses the other apologia that “Timmerman only discovered his Jewishness in prison”. What he doesn’t do is to explain the antagonism that he aroused. The answer quite simply was that Argentina, especially under the new Reagan regime, was an ally par-excellence - with a devoted fan in Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who openly disagreed with the United State’s reluctant support for Britain in the Malvinas/Falklands War. Couple this with the close military ties to Israel and the answer is fairly obvious. And whatever excuses can be found, as will be seen later, for the behaviour of the Daia, what excuse can there be for the American Jewish Congress giving a clean bill of health to Gen. Viola when they and other Zionist bodies don’t hesitate to use ‘anti-Semitism’ as a weapon against the Sandanistas? Only that anti-Semitism is used as another weapon to be brandished in the war against the Left.

In a visit to Argentina just before Timmerman was expelled, Paul writes that:
'Most of those Argentine Jews with whom I talked preferred that I avoid the topic of Jacobo Timmerman. In fact they would rather that I did not talk at all about anti-Semitism in Argentina, about the 500 or so. young Jews who were among the ‘disappeared’ or about the military: coup attempted the day after Timmerman’s departure, by the most Right wing of Argentine’s generals, in protest against his release.'
Despite all this, we are told in ‘Letter from Buenos Aires’ by Jose Smilg that “intermarriage and assimilation remain the greatest threat to Jewish survival in Latin America.”. [Jewish Chronicle, 9.10.1981.] Of the 250 000 Jews in Buenos Aires, Amia is estimated to represent only 40,000 and even this “according to cynics, however, includes everyone in the Tablada, the biggest Jewish cemetery in the city.” The Zionists are an even rarer species in a community where Yiddish is still widely spoken and: “Contributors to the United Israel Appeal are reported to be much fewer and there are never more than 7 000 voters in the Argentine Zionist Organisation elections.” (i.e.. about 3% of the adult Jewish population). In its own way, the situation of Argentina’s Jews resembled that of war-time Hungary - a large Jewish community, not particularly religious, with an unrepresentative Zionist dominated communal organisation. And in the elections called after the restoration of democracy, of the 28,000 eligible only 7,000 voted in the elections for Amia: “The well-organised Avodah and Mapam Labour Alignment list obtained nearly 50% of the votes cast.” [Jose Smilg, Buenos Aires, 1. 6. 1984 JC.]

Amongst Timmerman’s charges were that: the Argentine Jewish community served the regime as a ‘Judenrat’, silently acquiescing in the violence against thousands of citizens, Jews and non-Jews to which a ‘Jewish personality’ replied that Timmerman, like so many before him, was obviously unaware of the efforts made to release him. After all, “representations were made at least once a month to the Argentine leaders”. [Ibid. 5. 6. 1981.]

Jose Smilg, the Jewish Chronicle’s resident journalist and a committed Zionist, for whom assimilation and inter-marriage were the ‘greatest threat’ to Argentine Jewry, was able to report in the midst of the regime’s carnage that ‘A small but healthy movement of young and older Jews to Israel has developed.’ [Ibid. 9. 10. 1981.]

Smilg exceeded even his own standards of Zionist timidity, in a report: ‘Timmerman award angers journalists’. Apparently:
Most Argentinians are united in protesting against the award of the Maria Moors Cabots prize for journalism by Columbia University in New York to Jacobo Timmerman... He has aroused anger in Argentina by his criticism of the country’s human rights record and by the publication of his book ‘Prisoner Without A Name, Cell Without A Number’.
and we are told that former prize winners asked for their names to be deleted from the plaque and that two. of the most prominent were Maximo Gainzo, editor of the conservative ‘La Prensa’, who “has always been friendly to Judaism and Israel.” and Raul Kraiselbird of the misnamed ‘American Press Association’s Freedom of Press Commission’ and editor of La Plata. [Ibid. 6. 11. 1981. ‘Timmerman Award Angers Journalists’.]

This piece of yellow journalism is amazing even by the standards of the Jewish Chronicle. But then an unknown correspondent from Buenos Aires, had previously written that “Timmerman supported the Left wing of the Zionist movement in his early days” and that “The newspaper supported the Left wing of the Peronist Party during the return of Peron.” And repeating what has always been a standard Zionist line when it comes to fighting anti-Semitism (as opposed to anti-Zionism), it was Timmerman’s fight from abroad for human rights which “is considered one of the main factors inspiring a rash of anti-Semitic articles in the Argentine press.” [Ibid. 14. 8. 1981 ‘Timmerman Stirs Jewish Discord’]. Note how anti-Semitism is being blamed on Jews, though today Zionist propagandists deny that Jews have any responsibility for anti-Semitism.

As the Observer article makes clear, neo-Nazi papers were circulating almost from the start of the Generals’ rule. And another unknown correspondent, this time from New York, reports “Bitter Criticism” by Nehemias Resnizky, past President of Daia, who had apparently been “defamed”. But the “solidarity of other Jewish communities” said Resnizky, was a powerful weapon, which must be used “cautiously and responsibly.” [Ibid. 8. 1. 1982.]

As the regime reached its end and protests became more open, the Daia never wavered in its previous attitudes. In a report ‘Argentine Protest’, we are told of a protest by 7,000 people in Buenos Aires to protest at the latest wave of anti-Semitic incidents in Argentina. The meeting was organised by the Argentine Jewish Movement for Human Rights. Among those taking part was Mr Adolfo Perez Esquirel, the Argentine 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Daia, Argentine Jewry’s so-called political representatives, boycotted the event, which it said was dangerous in view of the lack of security. [Ibid. 28. 10. 1983. “Argentine Protest’ J Smilg.]

Presumably the Junta refused to give such assurances. Right up to the regime’s dying days, these bourgeois ‘leaders’ of Argentine’s Jews, ably supported by the silence of the leaders of world Zionism and the ‘Jewish’ state - so vociferous on nearly every aspect of Soviet Jewry and ‘anti-Semitism’ which involves criticism of the Israeli state - refused to give any support to actions against the Junta. It wasn’t mere cowardice but the logical outcome of the politics of accommodation to the rulers of society and the bourgeois attitudes they held.

After the fall of the Junta, Amia held its 90th anniversary celebration but not without incident:

A group of women whose children disappeared during the Argentine military regimes crackdown on Left-wing opponents shouted ‘Nazi-Nazi’ at those attending the Congress here of Amia, the central Ashkenazi community of Buenos Aires.
The protestors claimed that Israel, Amia and Daia - the political representative body of Argentine Jewry- had done nothing to help the ‘desaparecidos’ (disappeared ones)...

The guest of honour was Mr Itzhak Navon, formerly President of Israel. The mothers attempted to prevent his entrance to the Conference as well as that of the Israeli Ambassador to Argentina.
We are also told that calls were made for Argentina not to range itself “with those countries within the non-aligned movement which had taken up a firmly anti-Israeli position.” i.e.. Nicaragua. The estimate of the size of Argentine’s Jewish community is restored from 200,000 (JC 1.6.84) to 350,000. [Ibid. 23. 3. 1984. ‘Bitter Protest By Grieving Mothers’.]

Finally, after the rule of the Junta had finished, the Jewish Chronicle publishes an editorial referring to a publication by Daia ‘proving’ that that body wasn’t totally inactive during the rule of the Junta.

The ‘White Book’ stresses that its principle throughout was “The Defence of the integrity and the dignity of the Jews and the continuing fight against anti-Semitism.” Indeed it goes further:
“When thousands of Argentinians among them hundreds of Jews were imprisoned and tortured, if they were lucky, or more likely murdered in cold blood... shot in the head or hacked to pieces” these are the Jewish Chronicle’s words not mine, the Daia Report, ‘The White Book’ “refers with pride to how, during a period of violence and repression in Argentina, Zionist activity continued (including Congress elections the schools carried on normally, Argentine Jewry was represented at international Jewish gatherings - in short, they succeeded in their determination to maintain and protect a ‘full life’.”
The above stands on its own as a commentary on the quisling role of the Daia, which took pride that Zionist activity and other routine functions took place in the midst of a carnage which claimed some 3,000 young Jewish lives. And we are told, five years later, that the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, was urged not to make an issue of the disappeared, because of the dangers of a negative impact on the wider community. On the same visit, a senior American diplomat denounced to him ‘this spineless Jewish community...

One can also legitimately ask why the Editor of the JC chose to take this advice. But the editorial is, for once, particularly perceptive. It envisages a scenario of a government coming to power in Britain where
politically active Jews who have been their main opponents are the main target... Does the, the central representative body, or some of the elements which compose it, speak out vigorously, publicly to the world in condemnation of what is happening to an activist minority, which has always been an embarrassment to it... Or does it keep its silence for the greater good, the ability of the majority to lead, in the words of Daia, a ‘full Jewish life’? [‘A White Book’, Ibid. 25. 5. 1984.]

The ‘JC’ hesitated to answer the question it had raised, but any left-wing Jew with even a cursory familiarity with history would have no difficulty answering this question. Not a squeak of protest could be expected from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and those so voluble in speaking out for Israel. Spinelessness is an essential characteristic of the Jewish Establishment.

But if the editor of the ‘JC’ hesitated to answer his own question, C. C. Aaronsfield of the Institute of Jewish Affairs has no such qualms. After all: 'while individuals had the right to sacrifice themselves for their ideals, an organisation had not.' Which is Mr Aaronsfield's strange way of describing anti-fascist Argentinian Jews - they were exercising a ‘right’, whereas “the Daia chose to be circumspect and even today they counsel discretion.” Quoting the Chairperson of the Argentine Zionist Organisation, Jacob Fiterman, “The coup of 1976 drew strength from a nationwide sympathy.”

Of course the same could have been said for Hitler. And as we shall see later Aaronsfield is no slouch when it comes to defending collabor-ation with the Hitlerites. We are also told that while:
the Israeli Embassy had secretly managed to save many Jews. Israel officially did not act until December 1982. “Up to that time, Israel had deferred to Argentine Jewish requests ‘not to interfere’ in the affairs of those who regarded themselves as hostages.”

Not that anybody asked the torture victims and the Jewish dead if they so regarded themselves. And this was the same excuse given for silence between 1933 and 1939. Even assuming that the official bodies of Argentine Jewry couldn’t act, and many like the mothers of the disappeared ones did act, to use that as an excuse for the Zionist movement’s inactivity and that of the Israeli state, is particularly dishonest. But Aaronsfield doesn’t intend to “take sides” because Argentina is “vastly different from that of any western country.” What is not different is the relationship of Daia, the Zionist body that ‘led’ Argentinian Jewry, to the Executive from other historical examples.

The hapless Aaronsfield cannot but help dragging in the example of German Jewry:

During the early period of the Nazi regime, and not always under pressure, the German Jews discouraged intervention and protests which they felt would aggravate their position. At that time, too, the British Board of Deputies opposed public demonstrations under Jewish auspices while in the USA the ‘establishment’ of the American Jewish Committee frowned upon the agitation of the dissident American Jewish Congress.

Finding a true Zionist moral to sum up this abject defence of political cowardice and servility, we are told that ‘it seems to me the Daia is just another milestone on the trail of the Galut.’ [Ibid. 8. 6. 1984. ‘Inaction in Argentine’.]

So it was all the fault of being in ‘exile’ - Galut. It does strange things to people, making cowards of them, unlike those brave Israelis Aaronsfield so admires who don’t hesitate to shoot defenceless civilians in the back or bomb them from the air. Such is the conjuring trick the likes of Aaronsfield try to perform. Stranger still then that Israel, that vibrant centre of world Jewry, didn’t officially act until December 1982, in the dying days of General Galtiera. But more is to come. M Rigal and Rita Eker of the ‘Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry’ take the argument one ludicrous step further:

'we don’t think that Anglo Jewry has earned the right to judge any Jewish community for its lack of activism (because) British Jews are not visiting their beleaguered brethren in the Soviet Union.

In fact what was actually being criticised was the small Zionist organisation Daia. And more importantly, the main criticism came from those such as the Mothers of the Disappeared. There are always a myriad of reasons to justify collaboration with anti-Semitic regimes. Fear of the communities under attack is always prime amongst them. But there is never any explanation of how the ‘Jewish State’ came to be so silent.

Such is the twisted thinking of the Zionist ‘leaders’ who suggest one must forget about real anti-Semitism and the murder and torture of thousands of Jews by a Nazi-style regime in another country, because Israel is not able to fulfil its role of ‘ingathering the exiles’ from Russia. But the question still remains, why did Israel hold back until six years into the rule of the Junta?


  1. Hi Tony,

    I've been plugging away on this stuff for a good decade. And there is of course l'éminence grise Henry Kissinger ... nowadays lauded by rightwing Zionists (Likudists) but one of the worst murderers of Jews since the Third Reich.

    If you read Spanish it is not hard to find horrific stories about "special treatment" meeted out to Jewish prisoners of the Junta... Including teenaged pupils. Nazi scenarios. Vicious racism.

    I would like to know if this is available in Spanish or if you can include Spanish reference. This for two friends of mine: one fled the dictatorship to Israel (and has been a pro-Palestinian activist since his return) and the other who managed to survive somehow under the dictatorship, "disappearing" sometimes to the terror of his Survivor parents. They don't read English and while I read Spanish with no problem and can speak it if I try to translate into it it comes out as Italian!

    Jacobo Timerman wasn't particularly "left-wing", he was a liberal democrat and moderate Zionist (a position unbeloved of leftist Argentines of Jewish origin). But he was a Zionist who was capable of criticising Israel and in particular the 1982 aggression against Lebanon, as Italian Jewish intellectuals and survivors Primo Levi and Natalia Ginzburg did in a famous letter (the echo of the letter by German-Jewish intellectuals Einstein and Arendt?)

    My two friends, in their 50s now as I am, are proud Argentines, and would be horrified to see the remains of their comrades spirited off to Israel for Likudist propaganda purposes. This is deeply shameful, and contemptuous of the feelings of people who may not seem "foreign" but who are on the outs of the imperialist hierarchy as South Americans.

    By the way, the late General's name was Galtieri. Lots of Italians in Argentina, on both sides. Viola and Galtieri but also de Bonafini.

  2. Congratulations on an informative article about a subject I was almost completely unfamiliar with.

  3. This is a very well researched piece and a shocking story.

    It makes one wonder how Israel would react if for some reason anti-Zionist European Jews would become persecuted because of their anti-Zionism. With the new European working definition of anti-Zionism becoming at least prosecuted for such views isn't even such a remote possibility anymore...

  4. Thank you for posting this. It's important that we remember this dreadful period in Argentine Jewish history. Similarly it's important that we remember the Soviet Jewry campaigns that fortunately brought about the largest exodus in Jewish history.

    [This comment has been redacted to remove the ad. for a Zionist site and book]

  5. Unfortunately I don't speak Spanish. But I agree with you that the treatment of Jews in Argentina was particularly Nazi-like. And yet the Israeli state, and both Labour and Likud, had no difficulty trading arms and giving support to the Argentinian Junta.

    To those who doubt that Zionism could collaborate with the Nazis, here is your evidence that Zionism's preoccupation is with a Jewish 'race' not Jews as people. Hence why the honest Zionists equate Hitler's extermination of the Jews with the 'losses' to Jewry from 'assimilation' or marrying-out. This is so clearly a racial concept that it is not worth arguing.

    Unfortunately I can't provide any links to a Spanish translation.

    Yes I remember the last General Galtieri. 'Twas he who launched the Malvinas/Falklands War without any preparation at all.

    To Gert, how would Israel/Zionism react to the persecution of anti-Zionist Jews in Europe? The same as it behaved in relation to left-wing anti-imperialist Jews in Argentina. They would welcome it. Jewish Socialists should not expect that Israel would live up to being a Jewish State. It is a reactionary racist state that uses the term Jewish to cloak its activities.

    I'm glad Hugh that this is new to you. It is to most people as of course it's not something Israeli propagandists like to advertise!

    Phil's comparison with Soviet Jewry is way off beam. Soviet Jews weren't particularly oppressed or at all because they were Jewish. Jews were overrepresented at all levels of the Soviet hierarchy. Certainly aspects of Jewish culture and practice were no doubt persecuted but you cannot compare the torturing to death of 1% of Argentinian Jewry with the treatment of Soviet Jews, who as far as I'm aware didn't suffer equivalent losses of about 50,000.

  6. Tony, I hope you got my private message - that it didn't go into your spam file.

    I sent you possible contacts with prominent progressive Argentine (notably Jewish Argentine) spokespersons and media (the spokesperson is Jewish, the news media is of course not "Jewish" but many of its staff members are). They should be able to understand you in English. It is essential to describe this and the Israeli attempt to "repatriate" the remains of desaparecidos/desaparecidas of Jewish origin to Israel, though they were proud Argentines, not Israelis, to progressive people in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America.

    The idea of equivalence between "intermarriage" and eventual children and racism and genocide of racialised groups such as Jews and Roma is utterly appalling. Love and hate are the same thing? Twisted.

  7. Apologies for beinging slightly off-topic but,
    I thought people would be interested in news about the football game tonight, (Glasgow Celtic FC v Hapoel Tel Aviv) where the Scottish TUV plans to hand out 10,000 Palestinian flags.

    For more info see -

    SPSC - 10,000 Palestinian Flags To Be Handed out at Celtic v Hapoel
    30 Nov 2009

    BBC etc - Celtic 'concerned' by STUC Palestinian flag call
    02 Nov 2009

    all the best


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