Saturday, July 7, 2012

In Bed With Argentina's Generals

I see that one of Argentina's imprisoned 'Dirty War' (1976-84) generals, Jorge Videla, has just been sentenced to a further 50 years in prison for stealing the babies of female prisoners who were then tortured and executed. A charming gent, the old Jorge.

And quite talented too. Did you know, for example, that he speaks fluent Israeli?


Well here's the proof:

"The women giving birth, who I respect as mothers, were militants who were active in the machinery of terror,' the former dictator said in his closing remarks. 'Many used their unborn children as human shields.'" (Robbery of infants: Videla sentenced to 50 years in prison, Buenos Aires Herald, 5/7/12)

So where did Videla learn to throw around such quintessentially Israeli words as terrorists and human shields?

Why, from the masters of course:

"President Isabel Peron was overthrown by the Argentine military in March 1976. Thus began 8 years of military rule, during which the relations between Israel and Argentina were cordial and intimate. The first junta, in control to 1981, was headed by General Jorge Rafael Videla, and included also Admiral Emilio Massera and Brigadier General Orlando Agosti. Lieutenant General Roberto Eduardo Viola succeeded Videla in April 1981 as Argentina's president, and ruled with the help of Admiral Armando Lambruschini and General Omar Graffigna. The third and last junta was made up of General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri, Admiral Jorge Isaac Anaya, and Brigadier General Basilio Lami Dozo. The last junta had to relinquish power after a long series of economic and military fiascos, and Argentina was returned to civilian rule.

"Generals Viola, Videla, Valin, and Galtieri became gracious hosts to Israeli military and civilian leaders, and their names grew familiar to their Israeli counterparts during the years of military rule. Israeli generals Peled and Lahav and Reshef and Rahav, names as interchangeable and forgettable as their Latin American colleagues', had many good meetings with the Argentines. They were liked and admired; they enjoyed the friendly times. There were 'three countries that enjoyed a special sympathy in Argentine military circles: the United States, South Africa, and Israel' (Yediot Aharanot, 1983a, p. 7).

"Argentina has been one of Israel's major arms customers, especially since President Carter suspended US military aid in 1977 (a move partly reversed by by President Reagan in July 1981). The script is familiar to us from Nicaragua, Guatemala, and other places: Israel filled the demand. It sold Argentina nearly a hundred jet fighters - mostly improved versions of the French Mirage, plus 24 US A-4 Skyhawks - and Shafir missiles to arm them. The navy received 4 Dabur-class patrol boats and 50 Gabriel missiles. Spare parts, ammunition, and small arms were also sold in large quantities.

"Israel's supplying arms to Argentina during the Falklands-Malvinas War of 1982 brought much comment and understandable British concern, but it merely reflected a long-standing relationship (Taubman, 1982). Judging by reports of arms delivered, Israel played a role in helping the Argentine armed forces to replace armaments and aircraft lost during the war, with Nesher planes, Mirage planes, Gabriel missiles, spare parts, and ammunition (Schumacher, 1982). Supplies also came from South Africa (Dabat & Lorenzano, 1984) and numerous other countries, including Libya.

"Although many Israeli leaders visited Argentina during the years of the generals, former military leaders drew the most attention. General Mordecai Gur followed up his visit to Chile in 1978 with one to Argentina, and was warmly received by General Alfredo Ciola, Argentine chief-of-staff, and other generals. The former chief-of-staff (1964-1968) and prime minister (1974-1977) Yitzhak Rabin visited Argentina in August 1980, and lectured at the Argentine Armed Forces National College. Lately it has come out that after the Malvinas War of 1982, when the military regime was on its last legs, its Israeli friends came up with a grand rescue plan, designed to make Argentina into a 'South Atlantic power,' and to save the generals' future (Shipler, 1986)." (The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms & Why, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, 1987, pp 101-103)

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