Poverty to Blame for Synagogue Attack, Jewish Argentinian Group Says

After homeless couple attacks Buenos Aires synagogue, umbrella organization says social deterioration invoked old prejudices

Chief Rabbi of Argentina, Gabriel Davidovich, holds a menorah at the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Dec. 05, 2018.
AP

The Jewish umbrella organization of Argentinian Jewry said that the social deterioration of the country’s society triggered an attack by a homeless couple on a Buenos Aires synagogue.

The attack took place on Friday night at the Mikdash Yosef Orthodox synagogue in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

“The impoverished situation of our Republic provokes, in some sectors of society in a situation of marginality, the invocation of old prejudices installed in society,” the Delegation of Argentine Israelites Associations, or DAIA, said Monday in a statement. The statement designated the attack as anti-Semitic.

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On Friday evening a woman entered the synagogue building during Shabbat evening services and was told by worshippers that she could not remain. After the service, as some members of the Jewish community stood talking on the sidewalk in front of the synagogue, a homeless man identified as a friend of the woman, broke a bottle and threatened the community members, shouted insults and threw stones. The synagogue’s rabbi, Uriel Husni, grappled with the man and was injured in his arms. The aggressor was eventually held by community members until the police came, according to reports.

In Argentina the Catholic University, or UCA, created a poverty index used by sociologists and experts. According the latest UCA´s Social Debt Observatory report, poverty rose from 26.6 percent to 31.3 percent, with 12.7 million people living below the poverty line.

The Social Debt report was made public at the end of March and analyzes society not only by income, as the national state statistics institution does, but also through measurements such as access to food, health care, housing, education, employment, and social security systems.

The DAIA statement also recommends that education will allow Argentina to cross “this difficult moment in peace” with the objective of “taking care of our community, together with the government agencies responsible for that area.”