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  • Argentina, Israel and the Jews:Perón, the Eichmann Capture and After
  • Idit Gil (bio)
Argentina, Israel and the Jews: Perón, the Eichmann Capture and After by Raanan Rein University Press of Maryland, 2003 275pp.

The book deals with the intricate relationships between Argentina, Israel, and the Jewish community in Argentina in the years from 1947 to 1962. The book's distinctive contribution lies in connecting the three spheres.

Among Latin American countries, Argentina is the focus of most Israeli publications, however, there is no comprehensive research on Argentine-Israel relations. Rein's book fills this void by exploring the fluctuations of these relations for the two and a half decades following the partition of Palestine in 1947. It looks into Argentina's decision to abstain in the United Nations vote on independent state of Israel) and finally, the crisis between the two countries following the Eichmann capture.

Raanan Rein carefully examines Israeli-Argentinian relations with an impressive set of considerations such as the formulation of foreign policies in Argentina and Israel, internal and external goals, personal rivalries, and individual backgrounds and preferences. He emphasizes the ideological conflicts in the foreign ministry and the dominance of Ben-Gurion in determining Israel's foreign policy. Rein depicts a rich and fascinating picture; exploring the various considerations that determined Argentina's decision to abstain in the United Nations vote on Palestine is a case in point. Rein reveals the complex factors that played a role in this policy: internal considerations, the Zionist and the Arab lobbies, and the personal rivalry in the foreign ministry.

As regards Perón's foreign policy, the book points to several considerations: the relations with the United States, Perón's "Third Position" (the attempt at conducting an independent foreign policy), the importance of Britain (the old economic partner), the support of the Arab countries in [End Page 216] the attempts to participate in the UN institutions, and the importance of Palestine to Argentine foreign relations.

As to Argentina's internal considerations, the fact that, as a country of immigrants, the makers of foreign policy had to take into account the large populations of Jews and Arabs. Rein describes in detail the activities and meetings of both the Zionist and the Arab lobbies, emphasizing the apparent Zionist success in gaining the assurance of the Argentine foreign minister to support the Partition Plan. He contributes to an understanding of the power relations between Juan Atilio Bramuglia, the foreign minister, and his protégé in the Argentine delegation to the UN, Enrique Corominas, who both backed the Zionist cause, and the Argentine ambassador to the UN, Jose Arce, who opposed Zionism. According to Rein, the final decision to abstain in the UN vote was made by the UN ambassador, not the charismatic Peron or the foreign minister.

A major contribution of the book is its innovative manner of dealing with the prominent Argentine Jewish community, the largest Jewish community in Latin America (there are about a quarter of a million Jews in Argentina today). This is the main topic of both Israeli publications about Argentina and academic research about Latin American Jewish communities. Those publications focus mainly on the community's institutional development and social interactions. They deal with its organizations, settlements, religious practice, and education and welfare systems. This book, however, does not concentrate on the community's internal life, but looks at the Jewish community in the context of Argentine-Israeli relations.

The book reveals how the two main Jewish organizations—the DAIA (Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas [delegation of Argentine Jewish Association]) and the OIA (Organización Israelita Argentina [Argentine Jewish Organization]) tried to demonstrate their faithfulness to Argentina while, at the same time, lobby for the state of Israel. The two rival organizations supported Argentine political institutions even though they did not always agree with their policies. Correspondingly, they tried to influence the Argentine vote in the UN to support the partition, they encouraged Argentina to recognize the new Jewish state, and they promoted diplomatic relations between the two states. In fact, Rein interestingly points out that the Zionist ideology gave the Argentine Jewish community its fundamental identity. The heterogeneous immigrant community was...