President-elect Javier Milei’s trip to the United States has begun with a visit to the grave of a famous rabbi in New York.
Milei, 53, is in America for a brief tour stopping in New York and Washington DC. He is not travelling as Argentina’s official president-elect and the trip is a mix of the professional and personal, with much of the focus on the libertarian leader’s faith and growing interest in Judaism.
Prior to his trip, the La Libertad Avanza attended a traditional Jewish celebration in the Buenos Aires area of Balvanera on Saturday, where he received the blessing of Mekuval Rabbi David Pinto Shlita, who expressed his wish that Milei’s government is a success.
The following day, Milei departed for the United States via a 12-person private jet, arriving in New York on Monday. Among those accompanying him is his sister, campaign manager Karina Milei, and Luis ‘Toto’ Caputo – the former government official who is in line to take control of the Economy Ministry on December 10, when the president-elect is inaugurated.
The first stop for the president-elect was the Ohel Chabad Lubavitch (or Ohel), a site which contains the grave of Ukrainian Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as the “Lubavitch Rebe,” an influential Hasidic rabbi who died in 1994.
The visit to this grave “is more spiritual than anything else. I will stop by to say thank you for this mission I’m undertaking,” explained Milei in an interview recorded before his trip.
“This is a priori a personal trip. No institutional agenda has been disclosed yet,” spokespersons for the libertarian confirmed.
Meeting with Clinton
The headline from Milei’s day in New York, however, was his lunch with former US president Bill Clintona nd former Democratic senator Chris Dodd – a personal friend of US president Joe Biden and a special advisor to POTUS on the Americas.
According to reports, both Clinton and Dodd praised Javier Milei's presentation and said during lunch that his political and economic agenda could take the bilateral relationship between the two countries to another level.
Dodd also confirmed the White House's willingness to support Argentina in a scenario of severe economic crisis, Infobae reported.
While in Washington on Tuesday, Milei will meet with Jake Sullivan, the head of the National Security Council, and representatives from the International Monetary Fund and US Treasury,
The president-elect's team defined the meetings as "protocol," but Milei aims to discuss his economic plan, fiscal adjustment measures, monetary policy reform, state downsizing and economic deregulation projects at each. However, there is no intention to seek funding, spokespersons said.
Milei is scheduled to return to Buenos Aires later on Tuesday.
Milei is expected to hold a number of high-level meetings with banks, analysts, US government officials and representatives from multilateral organisations while in the United States.
The US Embassy in Argentina said last week that Ambassador Marc Stanley is helping to coordinate meetings with U.S. government officials. The diplomat stated at a press conference last Friday that there are negotiations in place to ensure Milei high-ranking encounters
“I invited him to meet with officials, there is a great likelihood of it occurring,” he said.
He later explained that it would be “a single high-ranking meeting” with representatives from the US Treasury, the State Department and specialised officials for Latin America as Kevin Sullivan.
These meetings are “exploratory,” said the envoy, given that “Milei is not the president yet.”
Ties to Judaism
Milei’s links to Judaism were highlighted last weekend at an event before his trip. The deputy took part in a Havdalah, the ceremony that separates the Sabbath from the rest of the days of the week, while in Balvanera.
During the ceremony, Milei received a blessing from rabbi Pinto Shlita, which was immortalised in a video which quickly went viral on social networks.
"I celebrate this beautiful country, Argentina, and I ask God to protect the Argentine Nation for it to be what it once was. I’m sure that with God’s help you’ll help the Nation and with the Argentine people, you’ll be successful,” Pinto Shilta told Milei.
The libertarian was accompanied by his sister and main advisor, Karina, who also received a blessing from the rabbi, as did their mother, Alicia Luján Lucich, who did not.
Milei’s actions line up with his repeated statements that he has thoroughly studied the Torah and wishes to be ultimately convert to Judaism.
“I don’t go to church, I go to temple. I have my rabbi. I study the Torah,” Milei said in an interview in September, in the middle of the election campaign. “I’m internationally acknowledged as a friend of Israel. I’m this close to being a Jew, all I need is the blood covenant.”
Over the last few days, Milei expressed his unconditional support for Israel in the conficlit with Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and announced that he would move the Argentine Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
After being elected in the presidential run-off, Milei said on several occasions that he would travel to New York and Israel “for spiritual reasons.”