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Explainer: Who is Javier Milei, Argentina’s new right-wing, pro-Israel president?

Explainer: Who is Javier Milei, Argentina’s new right-wing, pro-Israel president?

By Ivan Kesic

The rise to power of Javier Milei, a far-right politician and self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist, has many wondering how Argentina will position itself on the international stage under him.

Melei, who is known more for his idiosyncrasies than political manifestos, was elected the president of Argentina after defeating his opponent Sergio Massa, the country’s former economy minister.

Milei has invited comparisons with Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro. Both megalomaniac former presidents, quite unsurprisingly, raced to congratulate the new Argentinean president.

"I'm very proud of you. You will completely change your country and make Argentina great again," Trump wrote in a message posted on his social media network, Truth Social, on Monday.

"Congratulations to the Argentine people for the victory of Javier Milei. Hope shines again in South America," Bolsonaro wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

However, what is noteworthy about Melei is his unabashedly pro-Zionist stance and support for the occupying regime’s genocidal campaigns in both the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

In an interview on Monday, hours after his election was confirmed, the far-right eccentric politician announced his plans to visit the United States and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“From New York, I will go to Israel — we have already been talking to the Israeli Ambassador in Argentina,” he was quoted as saying, affirming his love affair with the apartheid Zionist entity.

The announcement came after Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen on Monday congratulated him on his runoff victory and invited him to visit Tel Aviv to "strengthen relations" between the two sides.

Melei, with his unkempt hair and thick sideburns, was seen raising the Israeli regime flag on several occasions during the election campaign, including in the past few weeks amid the genocide in Gaza.

Who is Javier Milei?

Milei is a trained economist who worked as a professor of economics for more than two decades, also publishing works on the economic model based on minarchist and anarcho-capitalist principles.

He identifies himself as a “liberal libertarian” and advocates minimal influence of the state, which he believes should be concerned exclusively with the enforcement of security and justice.

Therefore, he advocates the abolition of most ministries and the shutdown of the Central Bank of Argentina, and on the economic front, he promotes economic liberalism and fiscal conservatism.

Since his school days, Melei has earned the nickname "El Loco" (The Madman) due to his aggressive rhetoric and emotional outbursts, which made him a popular radio host in the 2010s.

He started to dabble with politics only in 2021 when he was elected as a national deputy representing the City of Buenos Aires, where he limited his legislative activities to voting.

Amid a long-term financial crisis, he focused on criticizing the top of the state and government spending, which earned him great popularity among the masses.

During the presidential campaign, in which his main rival was the center-left Sergio Massa, Milei promised to implement his radical economic plans and eradicate inflation.

What is Melei’s foreign policy?

During his campaign speeches, Milei announced not only radical changes in domestic politics and economy but also in the Latin American country's international relations.

He vowed not to accept an invitation for Argentina to join BRICS, a bloc of countries made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which in August officially invited Buenos Aires to join.

Argentina's full membership, along with Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, is scheduled for January 1, 2024, but his election makes it unclear whether that will happen.

Milei also announced the termination of relations with Brazil and China, the current two largest trading partners of Buenos Aires, who account for 25 percent of Argentina's exports and 40 percent of imports.

The right-wing political figure has repeatedly insulted the left-wing Brazilian president Lula da Silva as a "corrupt communist," and described China as an "unfree country" and an "assassin."

He has also criticized Moscow, promising to suppress bilateral relations with Russia and continue to support Ukraine in the protracted war between the two countries.

Instead of Argentina’s previous political and economic allies, Milei favors ties with the United States and Israel, which was evident after he announced his first official trips to these two places.

Why is Milei wedded to Zionism?

Milei's public appearances have included strong expressions of support for the Israeli regime, such as waving their flag at his political rallies, wearing a kippah cap, carrying a shofar trumpet and being photographed with Jewish books.

"I don’t go to Church, I go to Synagogue. I don’t follow a priest, I follow a rabbi. I learned Torah and support Israel. I will align with the US and Israel and move our Embassy to Jerusalem. If I win, my first trip is to Israel," he was quoted as saying in a TV interview last month.

Milei has also backed the Israeli regime’s ongoing aggression against Gaza, unlike most other Latin American leaders who have either severed ties with the regime or recalled envoys from Tel Aviv.

The new Argentinean president has also promised to blacklist the Palestinian Hamas resistance group.

According to the Spanish daily El Pais, his affinity for Zionism began in 2021 when he was trying to counter accusations of neo-Nazi sympathies.

A Jewish contact put Milei in touch with Rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish, who sparked his interest in Judaism, Kabbalah and Zionism.

He reportedly even considered converting to Judaism but decided against doing so because Sabbath restrictions would not allow him to campaign on Saturdays.

While media outlets have highlighted the Jewish symbolism he used in his election campaign, few mentioned his close ties with the Spanish party Vox and other right-wing populist parties, all of whom are financed by international Zionist organizations.

Will it affect Argentina’s standing in Latin America?

Milei's rise to power and his public expression of support for the Israeli regime comes amid the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and a wave of support for Palestinians in Latin American countries.

Experts believe the divide between Argentina and other Latin American countries is likely to grow.

Bolivia, a country in central South America, became the first country since the Israeli regime launched its bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip last month to sever its diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv.

Belize followed suit, severing its diplomatic ties with Israel over its “unceasing, indiscriminate bombing” of innocent Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and its refusal to implement a ceasefire in the territory.

Chile, Colombia and Honduras have in recent weeks recalled their ambassadors to Tel Aviv.

Venezuela is another South American country to condemn the Israeli apartheid regime. Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela have also strongly denounced the Israeli regime’s genocide in Gaza.

It’s believed that Melei’s interest in boosting ties with the US and Israel will come at the expense of Argentina’s ties with other Latin American countries as well as the country’s standing in the region.

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