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From Argentina to Israel: Escape, Evacuation and Exile

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2005

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Truman Institute of Research for the Advancement of Peace.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem Wake Forest University


During the last military dictatorship in Argentina, between 350 and 400 citizens who feared for their life managed to find shelter in Israel. This article traces the evolving procedures, institutional mechanisms and routes of escape operated by the Israeli diplomats and representatives stationed in Argentina and the neighbouring countries, against the contradictory background of lack of clear-cut official policies in Israel, the latter's cordial relationships with the military government, and an ethos of helping persecuted Jews evinced by some of those Israelis stationed in Argentina. In parallel, the article presents the social and political background of those who chose to appeal for Israeli help and finds – on the basis of a specially designed database covering between fifty-seven and sixty-five per cent of the fleeing individuals – that many were not associated with Israel or Zionism and a minority were not Jews, as defined by religious criteria or even by broader criteria. The broader significance of these contradictory trends is discussed.

Research Article
© 2005 Cambridge University Press

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This article is part of a larger research project on political exile in Latin America, sponsored by the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace in Jerusalem and the Eshkol Center for Social Research.