Argentine Military Battles Antisemitism

By Marc Perelman

Published April 18, 2003, issue of April 18, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In another sign of change in South America, the Argentine military signed an agreement earlier this month incorporating the Anti-Defamation League’s educational materials on racism and antisemitism into the curriculum of the country’s military schools.

The agreement between the army and the Rioplatense foundation, an Argentine human rights group, was supposed to have been celebrated last week in New York with a meeting between the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, and Fernando Maurette, Argentina’s vice-minister of defense and the person responsible for the project. The event was canceled because of the snowstorm that engulfed New York last Tuesday.

Maurette explained in an interview with the Forward that the agreement was intended to ingrain human rights values in an institution that is still associated by many with the military junta of the 1970s, and in Jewish minds with Nazi sympathies.

“There is a prejudice against the Argentine military even though the army has remained on the sidelines of politics over the past 20 years, and this even though there has been a lot of chaos recently and many opportunities for them to interfere,” said Maurette, who is an anthropologist with no military background. “So we need to improve not only the image, but also make sure this teaching is thorough.”

Besides his ministerial position and his Peronist loyalties, Maurette heads the international studies center at the Rioplatense foundation. The foundation was started with the support of the Buenos Aires regional government but is now sustained exclusively by private donors.

Through some Jewish friends, Maurette contacted the ADL for assistance in tackling the issues of antisemitism and racism in the military schools. He reached an agreement with the American Jewish group in April of last year, which entailed bringing seven officials from the Buenos Aires regional government, including police officials, to the ADL’s headquarters in New York for training. In the meantime, the foundation and the ADL worked together to translate and adapt the ADL’s “A World of Difference” manual.

Teach-ins and seminars on tolerance were organized last year at police and magistrates’ schools. But the main project was to formally incorporate the manual into the curricula of several educational institutions, starting with the military schools. Through his position in government, Maurette had access to the top military officials and pushed the idea.

He said he did not meet any resistance from an institution eager to clean its slate. A formal agreement was signed with the chief of the army on April 4.

Maurette expects the program will start in a couple of months and hopes to convince Foxman to jump on a plane to Argentina to give a presentation to the military pupils.

“Abe talking to them, that would be something,” he said with a smile.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.