This should come as good news to anyone interested in the eradication of Holocaust denial. Not to the JPost, however, as the daily manages to turn this interesting development into a story of how Argentina is a land of endless antisemitism. The very first paragraph sets the bellicose tone:
Argentina's expulsion last month of Bishop Richard Williamson because his Holocaust denial "profoundly insults Argentine society, the Jewish community and all of humanity by denying a historic truth" smacks of a certain cynicism given its long history of denial concerning it own shameful role with regard to the Nazis. For 60 years it conducted a campaign to conceal its enthusiastic pursuit of an anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi policy before, during and after World War II. Only the tenacity of a handful of historical researchers, most notably the journalist Uki Goñi, finally forced Buenos Aires to begin admitting the truth.
Congratulations to Uki Goñi, who has told truths that are very uncomfortable to us Argentinians. The good news is that he can do it and be respected; he's never been called, er, a self-hating Argentinian.
The article goes on to describe Uki's findings:
The story of Directive 11 is a case in point. Secretly issued by the Foreign Ministry in July 1938 as Argentina sat at the Evian Conference table pledging to aid refugees, it instructed Argentine embassies to "refuse visas, even tourist and transit visas, to all persons that could be considered to be abandoning or to have abandoned their country of origin as undesirables or expulsees, whatever the motive for their expulsion" - in other words, Jews.
Good. Argentina refused to admit Jewish refugees while ostensibly committing itself to helping them. This helps the neutral observer to begin to understand why the country is a piece of crap.
But there's more still:
Of course, Argentina was not alone in officially refusing sanctuary to Europe's Jews. But it was the only country that refused to assist even its own Jewish nationals stranded in Nazi-occupied territory. And astonishingly, this refusal was, as Haim Avni documented in his 1991 study, Argentina and the Jews, effected in the face of repeated German requests that they be repatriated.
In January 1943, for example, the Argentine ambassador to Vichy ignored the authorities' request to evacuate 15 Argentine Jews from France, while in Berlin, the first secretary at the Argentine embassy, Luis H. Irigoyen, refused to issue visas despite being informed that Ribbentrop "would consider it an act of special courtesy if the Argentine embassy would cause all Argentine Jews to return to their homeland." Ribbentrop's officials even drew up lists of Argentine Jews living in Poland, Greece and Holland to expedite their repatriation, but Irigoyen still refused to comply. When, under intense Allied pressure, Buenos Aires finally broke with Berlin in January 1944, about 100 of these Jews, now stripped of diplomatic protection, were immediately transported to Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz, where most are believed to have perished.
Enough to be tempted to throw one's passport in the trash can. Are there any redeeming factors? Possibly:
Buenos Aires continues to insist that its embassies did all they could to save Jewish lives, arguing that more Jews (about 40,000) entered Argentina during the Nazi period than any other Latin American country.
40,000 Jews admitted looks like an interesting figure; of course it does not offset the 100 Argentinian Jews who were shamefully allowed to be killed in the gas chambers when they could have been saved, but it's something. Only that:
What it carefully omits to mention, however, is that half of these were smuggled in illegally, while the others gained admission only by posing as Catholics or paying hefty bribes.
And, to top it all:
Bishop Williamson's expulsion order stated that "anti-Semitism is an ideological aberration which has cost millions of lives throughout history." But this rings hollow coming from a country that, amid accusations of studied incompetence and cover-ups, has yet to bring to justice any of those responsible for what The New York Times called "the deadliest single act of anti-Semitic terrorism since World War II" - the bombing of Buenos Aires's Jewish cultural center in 1994. Not to mention the fact that as recently as February 19, Argentina's Jewish community demonstrated against what it described as the government's silence and inaction regarding a resurgence in anti-Semitic agitation and attacks.
Which leads to the final indictment:
Indeed Williamson's expulsion, ordered the same day, looks very much like an attempt to counter this charge.
While Buenos Aires continues in its refusal to fully acknowledge it own anti-Semitic sins during the Holocaust and after, it lacks the moral authority to punish Richard Williamson for his. Until it puts its own (glass) house in order, it should stop throwing stones.
I like having a piece of shit of a nationality. It pushes you to do various things to give meaning to your life. If I were, say, Jewish, or American, I could brag about the Nobel prizes and the cultural influence, and would have less motivation to seek achievements of my own. I probably would have never wound up writing music for the piano or poetry for kids if I had a more prestigious nationality than Argentinian.
Also, when you have a piece of shit of a nationality and you still love your country, you know it's love, not pride. They're not the same. And I love Argentina.
That said, and precisely becouse I love the country, I'm prepared to take criticism of it, so long as it's reasonable. The JPost piece quoted above, however, goes far beyond the boundaries of reasonability.
Argentina has no moral authority to kick out a Holocaust denier. What the hell are we supposed to do, then? Not to expell him? In that case we would be decried as the country that allows a Holocaust denier to live within its borders. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
Also, every step the country has taken, however positive, seems to be part of a conspiracy against the Jews, historical truth, decency or a combination thereof. The entry of 40,000 Jewish refugees only serves to highlight the country's corruption and sloppy policing of its borders. No mention whatsoever that a truly antisemitic regime would have quickly spotted the illegal Jewish immigrants and deported them. The expulsion of a Holocaust denier only shows how deceitful we are; we only kick him in the ass so that people won't realize we ourselves are antisemites with a horrible record back in the forties.
That was then and this is now. We have come a long way since the forties; we have acknowledged the existence of a shameful secret law, something few countries in the world have done (not because they don't have secrets, mind you). We have come a shorter, but no less significant, way from the year of the Jewish Community Center bombing in Buenos Aires; an Iranian ex-president has been indicted, even if it harms our relations with a key importer of our grain; no mention of this is made in the article.
The bottom line is, as always, that no matter what the world does, they're all a bunch of antisemites. If a country is not antisemitic now, the focus is on its antisemitic past. If a country is not antisemitic now and has never been so, then we focus on how it will hate the Jews in the future.
But they're all antisemites: that's the scare tactic Zionism uses to try and draw more Jewish immigration at a moment when no objective antisemitism exists in the major Jewish centers. But fewer and fewer people are buying into it. This includes the very Jewish community of Argentina, which, while toeing the official line that the country is a hotbed of antisemitism, votes with their feet -- or their failure to use them to emigrate to Israel.