Argentinian president addresses Maccabi games, declaring support for Israel’s war on Hamas

President Javier Milei offers his ‘unalterable commitment’ to Israel’s fight ‘against Islamic terrorism.’

By Susan Tawil, World Israel News

Over 10,000 people attended the Pan-American Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 28.

The Maccabi Games is an international tournament for Jewish athletes, held every four years.

This year’s event included delegates from North and South America, as well as Australia, the UK, France, Zimbabwe, and of course Israel, whose team received an especially warm welcome from the audience.

Argentinian President Javier Milei welcomed the crowd at the opening ceremony, sending a “warm greeting to all the Jewish people, and in particular to those who have family or loved ones near the front lines…I accompany you in this difficult moment and I want to ratify at this moment my unalterable commitment to the state of Israel and to the Jewish people in their fight against Islamic terrorism, for peace and freedom.”

His reference to the current Israel-Gaza war gained him multiple standing ovations.

Milei, 53, is the newly elected President of Argentina, who took office on December 10 after a landslide victory.

He is not a career politician, but an economist and a right-wing libertarian, with a rather eccentric personality.

He describes himself as an “anarcho-capitalist,” and vows to change decades of political mismanagement.

He appeared at his campaign rallies waving a chainsaw, vowing to “cut down” government spending, slash the budget, and “Make Argentina Great Again,” referencing former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan.

The abysmal economy of Argentina has a current inflation rate heading toward 200%, with the poverty rate at 40%. The country owes a $45 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund. Yearning for a change, 55% of the population voted for the “radical” economist.

Since his inauguration, Milei has laid off 5,000 government workers, consolidated 19 state ministries into nine, and passed 300 new laws such as cutting subsidies on transportation and energy, reducing state regulations, and privatizing many government-run industries. President Milei wants to overturn Argentina’s socialist government, cut government spending by 15%, shut down the Central Bank, reduce trade with China, and change the economy from the Peso to the American Dollar.

Born a Catholic, Javier Milei is fascinated by Judaism, and has studied Torah for the last few years. He expressed interest in converting, but is putting those plans on hold for now, since he doesn’t know how he could observe Shabbat when he needs to run the country.

There are 250,000 Jews in Argentina, the highest population in Latin America. Milei sees Israel as a natural ally to his country, and pledged to move Argentina’s Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem.

The opening ceremony at the Maccabi Games included a prayer in memory of the more than 1,200 Israelis slaughtered in the brutal October 7 Palestinian massacre that sparked the war.

Romina Schvalb, whose brother-in-law, Ruben Engel, was among the murdered, led the prayer.

Schvalb is from Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the Jewish towns bordering the Gaza Strip that was invaded by the Arab terrorists that day.

Last week, President Milei told Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen that he supported Israel’s “full right to defend itself against terror attacks.”

At the Maccabi Games, Milei referenced the heroism of the Jews in the Chanukah story and told the athletes: “Chazak v’Ematz (Be strong and courageous).”