The Tablet carries a long analysis of Jacobo Timerman and the people of La Opinion, a Buenos Aires newpaper of my times, the early nineteen seventies. It was Argentina's most intelligent paper, supportive of the military dictatorship that was decimating the middle class.
Timerman published a statement in September 1976, in which he had told (American Ambassador) Hill that if the Americans would just stop overreacting, stop being so loud and concerned about anti-Semitism, the issue would disappear. Timerman’s position was in line with the public stance of Jewish communal organizations like the Delegation of Argentine-Israeli Association. In June 1977, several months after Timerman’s arrest, the president of DAIA, Nehemias Resnizky, whose own son would later be kidnapped, told the Argentine Jewish community that though Argentina was not an anti-Semitic country nor was there any official anti-Semitism, there were “powerful economic groups who always make the ritual offerings of the Jewish minorities as a scapegoat” for other national problems.Then, La Opinion's director Jacobo Timerman "disappeared" and the paper was closed (Illustration: Timerman's police master file. It refers to several other large files they had on him).
When I arrived to Israel, we Argentinian Olim were received as refugees just saved from the SS jails. That was 1976 and there was serious pondering in Israel if Argentine Jewish community should be "evacuated" to safety in Israel. I was indignant. I shared La Opinion's opinion that the military regime was a necessity to put order in Argentina, and that it was not antisemitic, just most Jews happened to be middle class leftist and naturally suspect of "subversion". I was totally brainwashed yet didnt know it. I read (with help) an article in then powerful DAVAR paper about Argentina by Aharon Megged, a famous writer, that said that Argentine Jews were in danger and no time should be lost in evacuating them to Israel.
I am a lifelong Zionist yet I wrote a long and indignant letter to Megged saying that he is wrong, Argentine Jews are not in danger, there is no antisemitism, and explained (ie defended) "El Proceso". DAVAR published the letter and Megged came to interview me. He was a skinny Polish survivor, and he was convinced that ARgentine military were exact copies of East European fascist regimes. I opposed this perception with conviction.
If interviewed today, I would not be so sure. The military intelligence schools had elaborated a comprehensive picture of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy to occupy the Patagonia. That bizarre story maintained that the Zionist movement had decided in Basel (seventy years before) to establish a second Jewish State (for "insurance"?) and Patagonia was selected. The story had a name: El Plan Andinia. From the school I was aware of this fabrication but it was so absurd and deranged that I never gave it any importance.
Yet The Tablet says that the only cause of the persecution of Jacobo Timerman was the belief by the military intelligence that he was an agent of the Plan Andinia conspiracy. In a way, this very belief saved his life, because the military feared the consequences of "disappearing" an important figure of the "Elders of Zions" (I am not imagining it). In retrospective, Argentine Jewry WAS in danger, and the situation could easily slip to widespread arrests and disappearances. I mean, some 30,000 young people WERE "disappeared", many of them Jews, and there were voices within the military to extend the operation to whole sectors of the population, as it was "better to kill 9 innocents than let one subversivo escape". While I was hotly maintaining that Argentine Jews were in no danger, in total denial of reality, I left Argentina as fast as I could. My survival instinct was more alert than my conscient mental world. A few months later, my apartment in calle Cespedes in Belgrano neighborhood was raided and the inquilinos (renters) disappeared. In the end, nothing serious happened to Argentine Jewry during the Proceso, there were no mass disappearances, yet we were then in a dangerous, uncontrollable situation. I should say "Sorry" to the late Aharon Megged, who had been closer to reality than I was in 1976.