World Jewish Congress calls for probe of brutal attack against head of Jewish school in Argentina

11 May 2011

The World Jewish Congress has strongly condemned a vicious anti-Semitic attack against the director of an Orthodox Jewish school in Buenos Aires, which happened on Monday night. Rabbi Moshe Cohen, head of the Heichal Hatora school, was accosted by a man who yelled “Dirty Jew” and other insults against him and hit him on the head with a nunchaku, an oriental martial-arts weapon. Cohen had to be treated in hospital with serious head injury. Police have detained the suspected aggressor.

The WJC called for a probe of the incident. “Clearly, this brutal attack is an anti-Semitic hate crime. Its background needs to be investigated urgently and thoroughly by the Argentine authorities. The fact that this happened on the eve of Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day – is quite disturbing,” WJC Secretary General Designate Dan Diker declared. He added: “Argentina has always provided a good and tolerant climate for Jews, and thankfully, anti-Semitic incidents such as this are rare. However, the authorities in Buenos Aires should not ignore the writing on the wall. They need to do everything they can to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.”

Angel Schindel, vice president of DAIA , the country's Jewish umbrella organization, told JTA that organization leaders are analyzing the situation in order to file a lawsuit with the Justice Department on Wednesday. According to the Jewish community of Buenos Aires, this is not the first attack registered against the Jewish-Argentine community during Israel’s Independence Day celebrations. In 2009, an anti-Semite group approached the celebrations taking place on the Avenida de Mayo, near the Israeli Embassy, and attacked the crowd. Around 250,000 Jews live in Argentina, the largest Jewish community in Latin America.

Argentina’s anti-discrimination law provides for prison terms for attacks that are based on religious or racial hatred. A bomb blast detonated at the Argentina Israelite Mutual Association killed 85 people in 1994. Two years earlier, a suicide bombing attack against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires killed 29 people and wounded more than 240.

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