The position of Argentina's ambassador to Israel has remained unfiled since April 2022, when the last person to hold the position was convicted of corruption and resigned. Now, in Argentina, according to reports, newly inaugurated President Javier Milei has decided to appoint his rabbi, Rabbi Shimon Axel Wahnish, to the position.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet received official notification of the appointment, but in Israel they have already begun to check whether Wahnish also has Israeli citizenship. If so, he will have to give it up if he gets the job.
The rabbi, it should be noted, has no diplomatic experience.
Wahnish, a fluent Hebrew speaker and a well-known member of the Moroccan Jewish community in Argentina, is the one who introduced Milei to Judaism and "infected him with the bug," he says. Following Wahnish 's Torah lessons, Milei was heard quoting verses from the Bible in his speeches, and in his swearing-in ceremony he spoke about Hanukkah and the heroism of the Maccabees. In the past he even said that he wanted to convert, but refrained from doing so in order to be able to manage Argentina on Shabbat as well.
The rabbi personally participated in Milei's swearing-in ceremony and, after quoting from the Bible, he said: "Mr. President, they asked me to bless you, but I am not the one to bless, because we are human beings and it isn't my place to do so. Therefore, the only thing I'm going to do is ask God to give you what you asked for: wisdom, moderation and courage." Milei was very moved and shed a tear at the blessing of his rabbi, which was broadcast live on all television channels in Argentina.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also attended the ceremony with a delegation of families of hostages with Argentinian citizenship. In a meeting with the families, Milei conveyed a clear pro-Israeli message. "I want to emphasize our absolute solidarity with the people of Israel following the acts of terrorism committed by the terrorist organization Hamas. We condemn them sharply and clearly. I support Israel's full right to defend itself against those terrorist attacks. On top of that, we are examining the possibilities of declaring Hamas a terrorist organization in Argentina."
During the meeting, Milei wore around his neck a metal disk with the inscription: "My heart is held captive in Gaza."
In Milei's meeting room hangs a portrait of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, which he hung last week, after visiting the grave of the last Chabad Rebbe in New York.
According to the estimates, Milei – who stated before the elections that if he won his first political trip would be to Israel – is seeking Wahnish's appointment to send a message that strengthening relations with Israel is high on his list of priorities, and that he intends to fulfill his election promise: to move the Argentine embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. However, in Israel it is estimated that this will not happen so quickly, since Milei currently has to concentrate on restoring the economy in his country and building coalitions.