Chief Rabbi of Argentina Rabbi Gabriel Davidovich was attacked and severely beaten during an early morning break-in at his Buenos Aires home on Monday. He suffered nine fractured ribs and a punctured lung, along with other injuries.
Officials at the AMIA [the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, one of the country’s most prominent Jewish groups] stated the 62-year-old rabbi was “beaten and savagely attacked by a group of strangers who entered his house.”
The rav’s wife was tied up as the attackers stole money and valuables from their home. It is also reported that as they ran through the home, they told the rabbi “we know who you are, you are the rabbi of the AMIA.”
The attack came just a day after seven Jewish graves were defaced with Nazi symbols in San Luis in western Argentina. The country is home to nearly 200,000 Jews – one of the world’s largest Jewish populations outside Israel. Rabbi Davidovich has been chief rabbi since 2013.
In 1994, the AMIA building was targeted in a bomb attack that killed 85 people and remains the country’s deadliest terrorist incident. Much of the evidence was subsequently lost or contaminated and no-one has been convicted in connection with the bombing.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri sent a tweet repudiating the attack and vowing aid to find the attackers. His human rights secretary, Claudio Avruj, said that Argentina needs to build a society “where there are no signs of anti-Semitism, and we cannot be indifferent.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlen phoned Davidovich “to find out how you are and to express my concern about the safety of the large Jewish community you lead,” according to a statement from his office.
“The State of Israel will do everything necessary to protect Jews wherever they choose to live and will take any steps to protect us from danger. We will not allow those who seek our harm us to pursue us,” he added.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded, “I send wishes for a quick recovery to Argentina Chief Rabbi Gabriel Davidovich and his wife who were viciously assaulted.
“We must not let anti-Semitism rear its head. I strongly condemn the recent acts of anti-Semitism and call on the international community to take action against it.”
Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Yitzchak Herzog stated, “Wishing Rabbi Davidovich a full recovery from the brutal attack he and his wife endured in their Buenos Aires home. We must relentlessly fight this disgusting hatred.
“The Jewish Agency together with the Government of Israel and other Jewish organizations will embark on a battle against the alarming rise of anti-Semitism across the globe.”
Minister of Diaspora Affairs (New Right) Naftali Bennet added, “This terrible attack on the chief rabbi in Argentina must be condemned by everyone. All our thoughts and prayers are with Rabbi Davidovich for his full and speedy recovery – but thoughts and prayers are not enough. Enough is enough – it is time for action.
“Today the leaders of the world in Europe, in South America, all over are failing in their responsibility to learn the lessons of the past. But unlike the past, today we have Israel, and every Jew around the world must know they have a home here; we are waiting.
“But for Jews who want to live in Argentina, or France, or England, or the US or anywhere, we are also here. We will stand up against Antisemitism. A strong Israel is the only answer – our enemies should know; Jewish blood is not cheap.
“I call on Argentina’s government to make a very clear stand in words and actions – the criminals who did this must be found and brought to justice.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)