domingo, diciembre 09, 2007

Good news from Argentina

Daniel is a friend of mine.

This article appeared in this blog. Una versión en castellano se puede encontrar aquí.

Good news from Argentina.

Posted by James Eaves-Johnson

on December 8, 2007, at 6:22 PM.

An Argentinian friend of mine has done good work on behalf of the Jewish people and other minorities in his city. My friend Daniel was confronted with rampant graffiti and other vandalism earlier this year in his home town of Rosario in Argentina. The graffiti was ostensibly anti-Zionist, but the prevalence of swastikas and other anti-Jewish symbolism pushed it well over the edge into anti-Semitism. The most common template used was a Star of David with "USA" in its center followed by an equal sign and a swastika. Although it often appeared on city property, the graffiti would remain for months without being cleaned up. Much of the graffiti appeared in areas near the communities' Jewish institutions.

In response, Daniel teamed up with some other minority communities that had been targeted by hate crime and vandalism to propose and pass a municipal law to quickly respond to such vandalism. It created an anti-discrimination program responsible for preventing such vandalism and quickly cleaning it up when it occurred.

Daniel's experience is a fortunate one. The leaders of his community responded amicably to his concerns and are working with him to address this anti-Jewish hatred. Is is stories like his that compel me to challenge anti-Semitism so aggressively here. Argentina does not have a Jewish community of comparable size to the US. Argentina does not the strong supporter of Israel. Even so, Argentinian Jews experience leftist anti-Semitism that is as aggressive and persistent as anything heard here in the US.

This problem is not likely helped by the fact that prominent people here push the myth of Jewish control of American government. Jew-haters world-wide hear prominent American academics, politicians, and their legions of supporters decry the Jewish control of US foreign policy. These haters then parrot it in increasingly anti-Semitic ways. People in Iowa City need to realize this. When an American (whether a celebrity in the mass media or a private citizen on a blog) pushes one-sided Israel-hatred and the myth of Jewish control, it has repercussions in other areas of the world. With this, the small minority of Jews in foreign countries are made into the scapegoat for the world's ills.

Very few Jewish communities in the world are able to function without significant investments in security. Even here in Iowa City, our high holiday services are protected by uniformed police officers. That level of security is small compared to what is required in Europe and South America. In Iowa City, our level of security is probably explainable by a mere heightened level of caution. In other places around the world, it is essential. Even as nearby as Canada, such security measures did not stop a crude bomb attack on a Jewish Community Center in Montreal earlier this year during Passover. Three years ago, a Jewish school there had its library destroyed by arson. Identification is generally required for entry to Montreal synagogues.

Daniel's achievement is a rare victory in the worldwide fight against anti-Semitism. But, his victory is an important one. Even here in Iowa City, we can help by making sure that the incitement that leads to hate crimes around the world is challenged.