The Fall of Cristina Kirchner and the Limits of Argentine Anti-Semitism

December 16, 2015 | Eamonn MacDonagh
About the author:

The outgoing Argentinian president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, deliberately impeded the investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center—in part, argues Eamonn MacDonagh, out of anti-Semitism. But while this may have helped bolster her popularity, it wasn’t enough to keep her party in control of the government:

The death of [her husband and predecessor] Nestor Kirchner in October 2010 precipitated the beginning of a shift toward Iran in Argentina’s foreign policy and a radicalization of Cristina Kirchner’s rhetoric. This was based on a conspiratorial worldview that saw Argentina as the victim of plots by mysterious global forces, many of them led by Jews. This shift eventually led to the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement with Iran in January 2013, supposedly to investigate the AMIA massacre but in fact designed to guarantee impunity for the wanted Iranians. This was accompanied, on the part of Fernández de Kirchner, by frequent mentions of her determination to find out who those really responsible for the massacre were—and the sotto voce implication that the official representative bodies of Argentina’s Jewish community might have had some role in it. The likely murder of [Alberto] Nisman in January this year only exacerbated this rhetoric.

So far this fits well with the classical mold of anti-Semitism, though this isn’t the anti-Semitism of old. . . . With the new anti-Semitism, Jews are welcome to participate as long as they have the right opinions. Fernández de Kirchner appointed Jews to senior cabinet positions, and one of them, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, was a key negotiator of the pact with Iran. . . .

[But] capitalism, whatever else it is, is not a conspiracy, and it’s not a conspiracy run by Jews, either. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner departs from office against a background of roaring inflation, stagnant growth, and central bank reserves at historic lows. So while the emotional satisfaction derived from anti-Semitism is very great, even for some Jews, it’s a poor way of explaining how the world works. The economic catastrophe of the latter years of Kirchnerismo explain the defeat of its candidate, Daniel Scioli, and the triumph of [the newly elected] Mauricio Macri.

Read more on Tower: