What is Israel’s Project in Argentina?

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The Argentinian authorities are wondering about the massive purchase of land in Patagonia by a British billionaire, and the “holidays” that tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers are enjoying on his property.

In the 19th century, the British government were undecided as to where they should settle Israel – either in what is now Uganda, in Argentina or in Palestine. In fact, Argentina was at that time controlled by the United Kingdom and, on the initiative of French baron Maurice de Hirsch, had become a land of refuge for Jews who were fleeing the pogroms in central Europe.

In the 20th century, after the military coup d’Etat against democratically elected President General Juan Perón, a current of antisemitism developed within the armed forces. A brochure was distributed accusing the new State of Israël of preparing an invasion of Patagonia, the “Andinia Plan”.

It has become apparent today that even though the Argentinian extreme right had exaggerated the facts in the 1970’s, there was indeed a project for implantation (and not invasion) in Patagonia.

Everything changed with the Falklands War in 1982. At that time, the Argentinian military junta attempted to recuperate the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which from their point of view had been occupied by the British for a century and a half. The UNO recognised the legitimacy of the Argentinian claim, but the Security Council condemned the use of force to recover these territories. The stakes are considerable, since the territorial waters of these archipelagos offer access to all the riches of the Antarctic continent.

At the end of this war, which cost more than a thousand lives (official British figures are largely understated), London imposed a particularly severe Peace Treaty on Buenos Aires – Argentinian armed forces are limited to their most simple expression. Above all, the control of their Southern and Antarctic air space is confiscated for the profit of the Royal Air Force, and they are obliged to inform the United Kingdom about all their operations.

In 1992 and 1994, two particularly devastating, murderous and mysterious attacks successively destroyed the Israëli embassy and the headquarters of the Israëli association AMIA. The first attack took place when the station chiefs of Israëli Intelligence had just left the building. The second occurred in the context of joint Egypt-Argentinian research for the development of Condor ballistic missiles. In the same period, the main Condor factory exploded, and the sons of Presidents Carlos Menem and Hafez el-Assad died accidentally. The various enquiries gave rise to a succession of manipulations.

After having blamed Syria, prosecutor Alberto Nisman turned on Iran, whom he accused of having ordered the two attacks, and Hezbollah, who he claimed had carried them out. The ex- Peronist President Cristina Kirchner was accused of having negotiated the end of the legal proceedings against Iran in exchange for advantageous oil prices. Prosecutor Nisman was found dead at his home, and President Kirchner was found guilty of high treason. However, last week, a coup de theâtre destroyed everything we though we knew – the United States FBI handed over DNA analyses which attest to the absence of the presumed terrorist among the victims, and the presence of a body which has never been identified. 25 years later, we know nothing more about these attacks.

In the 21st century, benefiting from the advantages offered them by the Falklands War Treaty, the United Kingdom and Israël are now setting up a new project Patagonia.