U.S. Jewish Group Calls on Bolivia President To Curb Attacks

President Evo Morales’ “vitriol” toward Israel spurred attacks on Jewish religious sites, says American Jewish Committee.

Published by Anadolu Agency 20 Sept.

Lima, PERU (AA) — A Jewish advocacy group criticized Bolivian President Evo Morales for not curbing a so-called rise in anti-Semitism and made calls Friday for intervention, after a Jewish cemetery was vandalized in central Bolivia.

The American Jewish Committee, a prominent Jewish-affairs group based in New York, called on Morales to protect the Andean country’s several hundred Jews, after Saturday’s dynamite attack in Cochabamba. There were two other attacks on the city’s synagogue earlier this year. Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at the city’s synagogue in April and July.

“Since Evo Morales came to power, we had not seen this level of vitriol that we see in his expressions, which then of course translated into attacks on the Jewish community, as we did this time,” Dina Siegel Vann, AJC Director of Latino and American Affairs told The Anadolu Agency on Friday.

“Because of the Gaza crisis, the whole issue of anti-semitism has become very mainstream in countries in Latin America, due to the importation of the Middle East conflict as part of the domestic or regional agenda. This is a very dangerous trend that only the government can and should vigorously turn back and end.”

The Bolivian government broke diplomatic ties with Israel in January 2009 during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, which Morales at the time called “genocide.”

In July, Morales condemned Israel as “a terrorist state” during that country’s most recent military operation in Gaza, and filed a request with the United Nations’ High Commissioners for Human Rights to charge Israel with “crimes against humanity.”

The military offensive showed that “Israel is not a guarantor of the principles of respect for life and the elementary precepts of rights that govern the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of our international community,” said the 54-year-old socialist leader who also voided a long-standing agreement that allowed Israelis’ to travel to Bolivia without a visa.

Siegel Vann said before Morales’ election in 2006, Bolivia had been a “friend of Israel” and “one of the first and only Latin American countries to open its door to Jewish refugees in the Holocaust.”

The AJC also said the president of the Jewish Community of Bolivia is pressing the government to investigate the latest incidents.

“If these attacks continue to increase we are going to have problems to regret,” said Ricardo Udler. “Now is the time to open the doors to ensure that this does not get out of hand and leave us lamenting the consequences.”

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