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This is what we talk about: anti-Semitism in Argentine culture

Through literature and culture, anti-Semitism can be tracked in texts and actions not to forget.

Art and Literature
De esto sí se habla: el antisemitismo en la cultura argentina

Argentine xenophobic ideas were also born with the liberalism of the 80s generation. Even with his critics. In  José Hernández  's  “Martín Fierro”  he asks, “I don't know why he government/ He sends us here to the border/ Gringa who doesn't even know/ You know how to dock a pingo/ If you believe in sending the gringo/ They send us a beast” A contemporary  JosÉ Manuel Estrada  also fustites “a new barbarism that comes from ships” even though he had not become the cause of anti-liberal Catholicism. In 1881,  Sarmiento himself,  who had been a fervent promoter of “governing is popular”, pointed out the dangers of “these immigrants who had only an economic horizon” and who dared “to found their own schools where Castilian, a civilized language does not enter.” In that same decade, the patrician son of stancers Eugenio Cambaceres , the first modern Argentine novelist, published “En la sangre” (1887) and described Italians as bearers of hereditary stigma.

Three years later, Julian Martel's “The Stock Exchange” appears and stands as the first openly anti-Semitic book in national literature despite being a plagiarism of “Jewish France” by the French writer Eduard Drumont. We are in the climate of the burning European villages in Russia and Germany while Jews escape to the United States, and Argentina itself. Not only did we import fashions and customs, in exchange for grain and meat, but also racist theories.

The subject of Jews is nothing new in those writers since   Sarmiento   himself had done an in-depth study of Spanish Jews in “Conflict and harmony”.iacute; ace of races in America” (1883), his last contribution to Latin American thought with claims that Indians were unable to think. In this vision of the elder procer, the ruin of the Hispanic culture was due to the expulsion of the people of Abraham. At the same time,   Sarmiento   continues to hold the classic medieval image of the Jew as synonymous with usury, “the expulsion of Jews, at the same time that Spain conquered America, it has prevented Cadiz, the ancient and arrogant Gades of Phoenicians and Carthaginians, from having been the London of our time... as is the case with England which is the savings deposit bank of all the wealthy in the world, seeking to collect the least usury possible” He then acknowledges that all the great cultural and political achievements of 19th century Europe were conquests of some Jew and dispatched with a long list, which lists the bankers Rothschild together with actress Sarah Bernhardt.

 The Snake Egg: From the Bag to Gold  

With the shooting of the revolution of 1890 silenced, and with the dismissal of  President Juárez Celman , liberal conservatism became granitic. And it also melted the myth of the crucible of races, in schools and the press, for a native population that was sometimes surpassed three to one by foreigners, especially in the countryside. Almost 5 million people arrived from different parts of the world. And the Jews were numbered, eight Jewish families arrive in 1888, and 136 a year later, and they don't settle in Buenos Aires but in Santa Fe and Entre Ríos. However, in Martel's book, pseudonym Jose María Miró, a hit of criticism and sales, the main responsible for the Argentine crisis of the previous year, and the perversion of the Buenos Aires city, is the Jewish Baron de Mackser. In the only novel of this stock chronicler of “La Nación” you can read, “he symbolizes the conqueror of America, the Jewish president of the Argentine Committee of the Universal Israelite Alliance, the golden elevator, the king of the silver finance, the secret envoy of the Rothschilds, the hidden cause of so much crack and disaster whose responsibility has unfairly fallen on others,” exculpating corruption and economic fraud from the ruling Rockism between 1880 and 1902. This literary anti-Semitism had its correlate in another with positivist bases in the voice of  José María Ramos Mejía , one of the initiators of Argentine psychology, who in “La madura en la historia” (1895) had no idea that “Judaism possessed a degenerative virus that has been circulating in their heads since ancient times and that has disabled the race” (sic). Therefore, following  David Viñas , Argentine anti-Semitism matters French reactionary thinking and was also the offspring of the same contradictions of the prevailing liberalism.

Twenty years later with the appearance in the canonical daily of Mitre of the chronicles of  Albert Gerchunoff and his Jewish gauchos, it seemed that these manifestations remained in the past. In 1910 Manuel Gálvez  published “El diario de Gabriel Quiroga” which was one of the first texts of historical revisionism. He strongly criticizes Alberdi's thoughts, especially phrases like “in the confusion of races and languages will one day shine out of American nationalities.” The nationalist writer opposes the inspiring Tucuman of the 1853 Constitution, “a man with a European spirit who had lost the soul of his own land,” the desolating picture that “Jews and Russian anarchists came. And Buenos Aires became a human meat market. Creole squares have been replaced... now everyone can read spending just 30 cents on Marx, Kropotkin and Bakunin. In that same book by the author of “Nacha Regules”, another praises of xenophabia, regrets the disappearance in his native Entre Ríos of the border villages by Jewish agricultural colonies. One dreamed of the pampa gringa, another demanded a return to when “we were Argentineans and not Europeans”, while sharing a coffee in the Tortoni. The damage was already done.

Between the twenties and forties, the position of the Jew in Argentine literature undergoes a change, argues  Josefina Ludmer . Jews continue to be foreign, avarous and feminine usurers, but now they are also killed. And their murderers cover up their crimes with lies, with better or worse luck, to avoid justice. Two examples of this fictional maneuver can be read in “Emma Zunz” by  Jorge Luis Borges Borges , published in “El Aleph” (1948) although located two decades ago, and in “The Flamethrowers -or in the original “The Monsters” -” (1931) by  Roberto Arlt.  The twenths really started badly in the Tragic Week of 1919, which had a Jewish socialist dead without guilt, Leon Futaievsky, and the accusation of Peter Wald, editor of a newspaper in Yiddish, of wanting to become the “president of the nation” (sic) Between 9 and 14 January, while the workers continue to strike in Pedro Vasena's workshops in Almagro, a violent pogrom developed in the neighborhoods of Balvanera and Villa Crespo, leaving 150 serious injuries and heavy material losses. This attack was not the first of the “good children” of the Patriotic League, who had already set fire to Jewish libraries, located at 359 Ecuador Street (Avangard) and 645 Ecuador Street (Poelei Zion), during the same Centenary that celebrated Jewish gauchos. In those days, in the corner of Lavalle and Andes, current Uriburu, they looted a Jewish warehouse and raped women, quoted by Juan José Sebrelli. These young “patriots” were part of the Argentine Sportiva Society presided over by Baron Demarchi.

In the middle we have the supposed literature of Gustavo Martínez Zuviria, the popular Hugo Wast of the Infamous Decade, and who edited “El Kahal” and “Oro” in 1936. In the first novel it reads, “at this moment the best properties of this great city, the richest estancia in the Republic, are falling by four reais in the possession of Jewish mortgages.” In its continuation, “Gold” appears the sinister shadow of “The Protocols of the Sages of Zion” (1902), one of the most dire anti-Semitic libels in universal history, and Martinez Zuviría states that “Judaism is as indelible as skin color. It is not a religion but a race”, dangerously approaching Nazi-style biological racism. Racial discrimination was in vogue, even in politics, and Yrigoyenist enemies were contemptuously nicknamed “black” or “redskinned”. There was just one step to the “black head”. Immediately “La Vanguardia” socialist publicly denounced by “fascist” who was then director of the National Library. He found no echo in the coup military authorities and Martínez Zuviría continued until 1955, using Peronism, occupying the armchair of Groussac and then Borges.

 Years of pain and recognition 

This black stain on national culture spilled until the breakout in the 1960s, ignited by the arrest and abduction in the country of Nazi criminal Eichmann for Israeli services. An anti-Semitic campaign that in 1964 counted 303 attacks on temples, cemetery and community schools. From the University of Buenos Aires, concentrated in the Faculty of Law, the anti-Semitic and nationalist Tacuara group denounced the Jews as leftists who did not respond to any country, in a single echo far from the words of the last  Sarmiento . They also accused them of consolidating “a financial synarchy that was going to manage the country and, also, academic culture” and unique responsible for the economic crisis, now echoed by  Martel .

That same year, Raúl Barón Biza's anti-Semitic novel “Everything was dirty” appeared and was amazed, “Hitler would justify himself before history, despite his military errors, simply because he tried to free his homeland from what the Jews were marking in London and New York.” contact of the life drive, appears simultaneously by  Germán Rozenmacher  the theatrical piece “Requiem for a Friday Night”, perhaps one of the best dramas of the dialogues and silences between Jewish culture and another already different, that of his Argentinian children. Among several painful phrases, son David, a young intellectual living in a troubled world, yells to an Orthodox Sholem, “I'm tired of being a foreigner!”

The following decade turns out to be a terrible accumulation from the articles of the right Peronism of the magazine “Las Bases”, which, with the signature of López Rega, the astrologer, a worthy but dire Arltian character, denounces a Jewish plot while two synagogues are exploiting. And finally the military regime of lead established in 1976 where the Jewish term directly becomes “extremist” and “communist”. The end of the century finds us twinned in tears for the Argentine victims of the Israeli Embassy and AMIA.

A final clarification: these lines are not intended to assert that  Sarmiento, Borges or Arlt  are anti-Semitic, but to give clues as to how the myths of the Jewish-foreign-greedy offender are rooted in the national language and culture. It is a simple but concrete draw attention. And follow the path of  Arlt's master,   Juan José de Soiza Reilly,  a pioneer of radio talks, who was spreading in 1938, “a gaucha curse says, “I hope you fall into the hands of a creole who lends you money at interest”, “when a creole gets into usurer”... Wanting Argentines to persecute Jews as some European countries do is not only an attitude that repudiates our Argentinism, but also dangerous and counterproductive... Let the homeland remain as until now with the effort of all races that honor the earth. Only in this way will we conquer, as the preamble says, “General welfare “Only then will hatred be able to shout from beyond: my quarter of an hour passed”, closed the writer, journalist and beloved history teacher at the “Antonio Bermejo” Women's School

Let us make reality that national preamble quoted  , inspired by the best of the Moreno, Echeverria, Alberdi, Sarmiento and Urquiza, “The best of the Moreno, Echeverría  , Alberdi, Sarmiento and Urquiza, “The best of the Moreno, the על אדמת ארגנטינה - ensure the benefits of freedom for us, for our posterity and for all the men of the world who want to dwell on the Argentine soil -” 

Sources: Ludmer, J.  The body of crime. A manual . Buenos Aires: Eterna Cadencia. 2011; Rock, D.  Authoritarian Argentina. Nationalists, their history and their influence on public life.  Buenos Aires: Ariel. 1993; Viñas, D.  Argentine literature and political reality Volume 1.  Buenos Aires: CEAL. 1994.

Publication Date: 23/09/2020

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Hélène Gutkowski Hélène Gutkowski: “The children were the target because the Nazis wanted to end the Jewish race”
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