Why I cry for Argentina


Though I may pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, I did not wear red white and blue during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In fact, I was not even in North America for most of the tournament. I was in a crowded hotel lobby surrounding a TV in Mar Del Plata; I was screaming at a television with my cousin and his friends in his apartment in Buenos Aires; I was parading through the streets of Bariloche in a sea of arbiceleste; I was in the land where my father, my mother, my sisters, and the rest of my family were born: I was in Argentina.

I had not been there since I was ten years old, and since then I had been eager to return, but coming back there as an eighteen year old was very different. Since then I had improved my Spanish and I was now old enough to drink, but I was more aware of my surroundings than I was as a youngster. My memories of Argentina consisted of Kosher McDonald's and the amusement park at Abasto Mall, falling off a horse in Miramar, and playing dominoes with my grandfather. However, I was looking at this country now through the eyes of not only an adult, but of an observant Jew who just came back from Poland and Israel on the March of the Living. Though I had a lot of fun (mostly centered around the festivities previously mentioned), I witnessed poverty, police corruption, the casual racism and anti-Semitism among civilians and the media. It was shocking; I could not believe I never knew about any of these dark truths behind the country that I had always loved so much.
With the knowledge and experience I gained on this trip, I began to pay closer attention to world news. After going to Israel in May, I sought to keep up with Middle Eastern news and politics as much as possible, so I tried to do the same with Argentina and South America, believing to see stories relating to the issues I saw in the country while I was there, but I unfortunately did not see anything. When searching “Argentina” in Google News, I usually find scores for important soccer games or related to food, but seldom did I ever find anything about political scandals, social issues, or foreign/domestic policy of the Kirchner administration. I was dissatisfied, so I fell out of touch, only keeping up with sports and my family there.
That all changed last Sunday, when a different kind of news story came up; a story about a man who had enough courage to seek justice over an issue that the press and the government kept quiet for over two decades: Alberto Nisman, a man who was not afraid to speak out against hypocrisy, treachery, and anti-Semitism, but was tragically silenced. Then, in a manner eerily similar to the events in France, an ten Israeli tourists at a hostel in the province of Chubut were wounded by a group of anti-Semites throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails while yelling obscenities. For once, the rest of the world has decided to investigate this political murder mystery and violent attack, realizing that there are a fair share amount of issues in South America, just like there are in Europe and the Middle East.
I am relieved with the new found concern that the world is finally showing toward the issues of anti-Semitism and radical Islam, but that does not put my worries to rest. Though 2014 was indeed a bloody year for the international Jewish community, I fear that this year has the potential to be just as bad if not worse, with multiple violent anti-Semitic attacks occurring in France, Argentina, and Israel in just the first month (which has yet to be over). I sincerely hope that these stories will not be forgotten like Buenos Aires in 1994; I hope we can learn from them so that I don’t have to pray for the safety of my family and so that Jewish children don’t need to be escorted by armed guards to their schools in Paris. Evita Peron may have said “Don’t cry for me, Argentina”, to which I say that Argentina is the one that we should be crying for.