What Can Argentinian Jews Learn from Samaria?

Rabbi David Algaze analyzes the Jewish world, from travails of Argentina to the strength of Israel seen in Eli, Samaria.

Gedalyah Reback ,

Binyamin Netanyahu in Eli
Binyamin Netanyahu in Eli
Public Relations

Rabbi David Algaze is a seasoned veteran of Jewish history, having been at the forefront of a number of initiatives in Israel and the Diaspora. Born in Argentina, he helped found the community of Eli in central Samaria before founding his congregation Havurat Yisrael in Queens, NY. 

Today, he frequently speaks on a number of topics and keeps his eyes on events all over the globe, and agreed to share his expertise with Arutz Sheva in an exclusive interview.

Rabbi David Algaze, second from the right, at last year's Israel Day Concert in NYC Arutz Sheva

"I believe that people like (Labor head) Yitzhak Herzog and his supporters want to do the best for Israel and I do not consider them my enemy," said Rabbi Algaze. "But I'm glad he lost."

Rabbi Algaze told Arutz Sheva he feels that the Knesset elections this week were an important statement by Israelis as a community and Israel as a country to reject international pressure on initiatives that they do not actually feel make them safe.

"They (the Zionist Union of Labor and Hatnua) were more willing to abide by the pressure of the international community and go to another accord similar to the Oslo Accords that have been a disaster for Israel," he warned.

The rabbi added that Prime Minister Binyamin "Netanyahu is a much better leader and the later declarations he made in the campaign about the Land of Israel were very significant. It's something we have not heard from him in a very long time."

Eli lives

Rabbi Algaze also made note of the extra attention his old project Eli got during the campaign in Israel and abroad. Netanyahu made the town one his campaign stumps, something that was unexpected and at first received with a cautious optimism by some in the communities of Judea and Samaria.

After that trip, the New York Times listed it among one of the most significant Jewish communities in the area, on par with Efrat and Modi'in Illit.

Netanyahu visits Eli in February PR

"Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), let them think Eli is so big! Perhaps it's a prophecy that it will grow in the future," the rabbi said. "It should definitively be on the agenda of the world that the thought of removing Jews from there must be erased from its own thinking. The longer they are there, the more they will realize that this is our land."

"Perhaps it is a subliminal message that we are strong, which I feel is a very positive development. The fact that Netanyahu went to Eli also says a lot about the yishuvim (communities) there being key to maintaining sovereignty, with the other imperative of preventing the establishment of a terrorist state," he noted.

Again emphasizing that he feels left-wing Israelis mean well, the rabbi emphasized he felt they were naive to the intentions of groups living there who would subvert independence of a state there.

Connecting to the Jews of Argentina

Rabbi Algaze, speaking with Argentinian-accented English, still keeps up with events in his birth country, and had much to say about the crisis there with the assassination of Jewish prosecutor Alberto Nisman. 

Nisman was found dead the morning he intended to testify about an Argentinian cover-up of Iranian involvement in the 1992 and 1994 attacks against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and the Jewish community center respectively.

The Jewish community has been supported by a large outpouring of public rage against the government, which senses a cover-up. Despite that, there are dark forces in lurking in Buenos Aires according to Rabbi Algaze.

Protest in Argentina by families of the victims of the attack Reuters

"For the first time in Argentinian history, we had a young man who was making progress in an investigation; then he was murdered," said the rabbi. "No one believes he committed suicide."

Rabbi Algaze described a sense of trepidation, perhaps disillusionment, with many of the Jews living there.

"The current government is a sort of sequel to the government which was in office during the attacks. The corruption that precipitated that tragedy, the knowledge that there must have been some aid from either the government or the police or the army, reflects the legacy of anti-Semitism there," he noted.

Argentina was infamous for its sheltering of Nazi German war criminals after World War II, also being the site of the famous Mossad capture of Adolf Eichmann in 1960.

Rabbi Algaze characterized the frustrations quaking through the Jewish community in Argentina, as little to no progress is being made investigating Nisman's murder, let alone the original terrorist attacks.

"If I can't investigate a real murder, how can I protect against the next one?" he posed. "Until serious investigations are undertaken by a truly serious government, I feel there is a real danger of another attack (against the Jewish community - ed.)."

While clearly weighed down and angry with the events going on in Buenos Aires, Rabbi Algaze anticipated the members of the community may decide to move on from Argentina.

"There is a great sense of despair, which will influence decisions people in the community make like whether or not to make aliyah," predicting immigration to Israel by the Jewish community.