DAIA (abbr. for Sp. Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas), umbrella organization and officially recognized representative body of Argentinian Jewry. Established in 1933 as a committee against the persecution of Jews in Germany, the organization became the Comité contra el Racismo y el Anti-semitismo in December 1934, and assumed its present name in 1935. The organization expanded from a confederation of 28 institutions from all Jewish ethnic groups, all of them in *Buenos Aires, to an institution comprising 130 organizations – congregational, political, economic, cultural, and welfare – throughout *Argentina. DAIA's principal objectives, to fight antisemitism and to represent the Jewish community vis-à-vis the world, have remained the same since its founding, and the organization's role in these two areas has been recognized by the government as well as by most Jews. From its inception, DAIA's policies supported Zionism and its leaders were Zionists. The Communists and their sympathizers refused to be a part of this framework and, except for the period 1946–53, they ran their own separate communal organization. In 1936 DAIA participated in the establishment of the *World Jewish Congress and since then has served as its representative in Latin America for many years. In 1964 the Latin American Jewish Congress was established at the initiative of the then president of DAIA, Itzhak Goldenberg.
Despite Argentina's political instability, DAIA has succeeded in its tasks and continued to survive, in great measure, because of its avoidance of any sort of political identification with any party involved in Argentina's domestic politics. At one point, during the period of the first presidency of General Juan Peron (1946–55), the Organización Israelita Argentina
DAIA was the focus of later disputes within the Jewish community. In 1976–83, under the military dictatorship, the government systematically organized the "disappearance" of its opponents and thousands of people were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. It is estimated that the number of Jews affected by these actions far exceeds their percentage in the general population. Nevertheless, the victims and their families, and some observers analyzing the events of this period, argue that DAIA did not speak out strongly enough on behalf of the regime's Jewish victims.
During the years of the Holocaust, DAIA fought against antisemitism in Argentina, emphasizing the loyalty of the Jews to the country and their contribution to its life. It participated in broad alliances with liberal and left-wing groups which fought antisemitism and racism in general, and especially against Nazi organizations. The DAIA also organized protection against attacks, both verbal and physical, by various antisemitic elements. In many stages of its existence DAIA leadership assumed a militant stand, e.g., on June 28, 1962, when a nationwide strike by Jewish commercial enterprises was declared to protest the government's inaction against spreading antisemitic violence.
Like similar organizations in other countries, DAIA has been active in protesting the injustice suffered by Jews in the Soviet Union and in Arab countries and in exerting influence in such Jewish matters as the reparations payments from Germany and Austria. Although DAIA is a member of the executive board of the *Jewish Colonization Association, and has participated in the *Conference on Jewish Material Claims, the Memorial Foundation of Jewish Culture, and the World Conference of Jewish Organizations, its main objectives are still fighting antisemitism, creating favorable public opinion toward Jews, and gaining the support of government officials.
In order to make its operation more effective, DAIA established local and regional branches throughout Argentina. The branches report local events to the leadership in Buenos Aires, and receive assistance when local action is insufficient.
The federative character of DAIA has been questioned in the recent years. Some political sectors in the community argue that the elections to its Board should be universal and not restricted to the electors in its General Assembly, in which each institution has one vote. They claim that it is not just for an institution with thousands of members to have no more influence than a small institution. Others wish to maintain the equal representation of all sectors in the community, regardless of their number.
DAIA has taken a strong public position regarding the prevention and punishment of discrimination. DAIA supported the Antidiscrimination Law prepared by the jurist Prof. Bernardo Beiderman and approved by the Congress in 1988. Since the establishment in 1997 in the Ministry of Justice of Argentina's National Institute Against Discrimination and Racism (INADI), DAIA has been a member of its advisory council.
To achieve its objectives more efficiently, DAIA has conducted sociological investigations and public opinion surveys, independently or together with other institutions like the American Jewish Committee. DAIA also issues information bulletins which have appeared sporadically since the organization's inception and are now distributed via the Internet. In an effort to reach intellectuals, it has since 1967 published more than 20 volumes of Indice, a compilation of essays and research articles devoted to the social sciences.
[Leon Perez /
Efraim Zadoff (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.