Stanley returns to Dallas for AJC meeting
Photos: Lara Bierner
Texas Representative Rafael Anchia and Marc Stanley

Ambassador gives post-Oct 7 report on Argentina

By Nicole Hawkins

Special to the TJP

The first Jewish U.S. ambassador to Argentina and former Dallas lawyer, Marc Stanley, spoke at the American Jewish Committee’s annual meeting at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas on May 21.

In a conversation with Dina Siegel Vann, director of the AJC Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs, Stanley discussed how the Oct. 7 invasion of Israel by Hamas affected Argentina, which has the largest population of Jewish people in Latin America.

“There’s a lot of pain in Argentina for the deaths of Argentines, for the hostages (from) Argentina and a lot of shared feelings,” Stanley said.

There are still eight Argentine citizens held hostage by Hamas, Stanley said. Two of them are under 2 years old. He said he doesn’t have much hope that they’re still alive.

Shelly Gammieri, Amy Berger, Margot Carter, Joel Schwitzer, Marc Stanley, Dina Siegel Vann, AJC Dallas President Stuart Blaugrund

President of Argentina Javier Gerardo Milei, who was elected in 2023 and whom Stanley considers a “very good friend,” is a strong supporter of both Israel and the United States.

“There’s been a marked change since Dec. 10 when President Milei took over in Argentine policy,” Stanley said. “They were always supportive of Israel, but not as supportive as they have been (since Milei’s inauguration). The new president, when he ran for president, said he wanted to align with two countries and two countries only: the United States and Israel.”

Stanley said he negotiated with the Argentine government to vote against a recent United Nations resolution in support of Palestine’s bid to become a member of the international body. Along with the U.S., Argentina was one of nine states to vote against the resolution.

After the vote, Stanley said members of the Argentine government sent him a strong message that said, “Understand what we did and please tell (President Joe) Biden and (U.S. Secretary of State Antony) Blinken what we did and how much this is going to cost us.”

Stanley said Blinken was able to give his thanks in person to Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondido and President Melei’s Cabinet Chief Nicolás Posse when they visited Washington, D.C., on May 18.

Summarizing the visit, Stanley said of Blinken’s conversation with Mondido and Posse: “(Blinken’s) point was, ‘I understand your position … you weren’t saying one way or the other on a two-state solution. What we are saying, what you were saying is this wasn’t the mechanism or the avenue or the time for this. It wasn’t the way to do it with a gun to our head at the U.N. … and we had your back and you had our back and thank you very much for doing that.’”

Days after Melei’s inauguration in December 2023, the president attended a Hanukkah event where he lit the menorah, Stanley said. Later that month, Milei attended the Pan American Maccabi Games, an international tournament to which more than 700 Jewish athletes traveled to Argentina to compete.

When asked about the persistent Iranian influence in Latin America, Stanley remarked that there’s “been no justice and no decent prosecution” for the bombing that killed 85 people and injured hundreds at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires 30 years ago. The attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina building on July 18, 1994, was attributed to Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah and carried out with support from Iran.

Stanley said that while Argentina does not prosecute in absentia, he is trying to change that this year to bring to justice all perpetrators of the attack. The U.S. indicted one of the perpetrators recently, he said.

The U.S. has two “red notices” — requests to law enforcement worldwide to locate and temporarily arrest suspects — against two Iranian leaders allegedly involved in the attack, but Interpol has been unable to serve them, Stanley said. July 18, 1994, is an “open wound,” he said.

At a time when authoritarian influence is growing in Latin America and China is investing heavily in Argentina, Stanley said he needs more tools from the U.S. government to support the South American country. However, the U.S. is still “by far the largest investor in Argentina,” Stanley said.

Stanley is “bullish” about Argentina’s future, he said. “I think (Argentina) is going to soar in five years.”

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