Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Global Studies
In 1989, Carlos Saúl Menem, an Argentine-born son of Syrian immigrants was elected
President of Argentina with the financial support of the Syrian and Libyan governments. On
March 17, 1992, a bomb detonated at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 22 people.
Hezbollah later claimed responsibility for the attack. On July 18, 1994, a second attack occurred
at the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina — AMIA), a
Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 and wounding an additional 300
individuals. Although the case remains unresolved, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are considered the
most likely perpetrators.
These stories, which made headlines around the world, suggest that Argentina has
historically been contentiously entangled in Middle Eastern affairs. The main Israeli institutions
in the Argentine capital were the targets of terrorist attacks, suggesting that the political tensions
between Arabs and Israelis extended beyond the region to shape life in other parts of the world.
However, behind the political headlines lies a more complex story of diaspora communities,
characterized by more questions than answers: Who are the Middle Eastern diaspora
communities in Argentina? How did they bridge the gap between Argentina and their Middle
Eastern home countries? Which factors influenced the development of their diaspora
communities? How do social factors like religion, family and culture influence the development
of diaspora politics?
This study explores the history of the Lebanese diaspora community in Buenos Aires and
the personal accounts of its members, with the intent of discussing one element of the complex
Lebanese-Argentine community: Lebanese-Argentine identity construction. How do members of
the Lebanese-Argentine community understand their Lebanese identity? How does the
development of that identity compare to the identity construction of others in the Lebanese