Session of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora (20 December 1999)
On 11 June 2000, the Government Ministries and the Directors General of the Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, and the Diaspora (which in the meantime has ceased to exist as a separate ministry) responded to a request from the Knesset to establish a commission to investigate the subject of Jewish "desaparecidos" (people who disappeared) in Argentina. The commission’s letter of appointment states that the Government of Israel assigns great importance to helping Jewish families ascertain the fate and place of burial of their loved ones who disappeared during the period of the military regime in Argentina (1976-1983) and to bring them to a final resting place in a Jewish grave. The mission of the commission was to examine and recommend ways to achieve these goals.
The commission began its work in July 2000. The general public took advantage of the chance to testify concerning their relatives, and much evidence was gathered in meetings held in Jerusalem and in Buenos Aires, which included videoconferences. Additional material was collected from the archives of the Foreign Ministry. Although the minimum period of time for opening the archives had not yet passed, a special dispensation made the material available to the commission. The Jewish Agency also cooperated and allowed the commission access to the archives of its Aliyah Department.
The commission presented its findings in July 2003 to the Directors General of the Foreign and Justice Ministries. The report included the full testimonies collected as well as the commission’s recommendations. The report was discussed by the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and the Diaspora, and in the plenum, which unanimously accepted its recommendations.
Relatives who testified before the commission, despite their sharp criticism of its mandate and their demand to bring those responsible to justice in Israel, expressed gratitude to the State of Israel for the willingness to listen and the attempts to find the remains of their loved ones and to bring them to Jewish burial, thus bringing them some measure of comfort.
Israel joins other states in sounding a warning against repressive regimes that persecute their own citizens who dare to oppose the regime. It is to be hoped that more states will follow this example.
- List of the Jewish detainees-disappeared and the Jewish victims