The president of Chile’s Jewish community has been given police protection
following a spike in anti-Semitic attacks across the country.
Zaliasnik told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that his house was being guarded by a
police detail after he and his son had received threats of violence.
am 43 years old, and I don’t recall something like this,” he said. “We’ve had
eight different anti-Semitic events in different parts of the
In recent weeks, schools, synagogues and cemeteries in the
cities of Santiago, Concepcion and Temuco have been vandalized and desecrated,
according to the American Jewish Committee, which has been monitoring the
In Santiago, Chile’s capital, unknown vandals scrawled “Juden
Raus” (German for “Jews out”) on the walls of the Chaim Weizmann school. In a
separate incident, a video was posted on the Web showing a group of people
urinating in a Jewish cemetery in the city.
While law enforcement has not
yet determined who is behind the attacks, there are strong indications that the
perpetrators are neo-Nazis.
Last week, the AJC and the Anti-Defamation
League both issued statements urging the Chilean president to crack down on
“The systematic campaign of vandalism of Jewish
institutions throughout Chile, as well as personal threats against the
community’s leaders, is of paramount concern to us,” said AJC Executive Director
“We trust President [Sebastian] Pinera’s government will
take the necessary actions to strengthen security for the Jewish community, and
apprehend those responsible for the anti- Semitic attacks.”
said attacks on Chile’s 20,000 Jews were relatively rare in comparison with
other Latin American countries, but that there had recently been an outburst of
anger against Israel following its interception of the Gazabound flotilla, an
incident that left nine activists dead two months ago.
Public opinion in
Chile is often influenced by the country’s politically powerful 200,000
Palestinian immigrants and their descendents.
“The Palestinian community
is to Chile what the Jewish community is to the US,” Zaliasnik
In addition, many leftists in Latin America have become more
vocal in their criticism of Israel after Iran allied itself with the governments
of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia.
the rise in attacks showed the importance of the passage of a bill currently
being debated in the Chilean parliament that would allow stiffer sentences
against hate crimes, including anti-Semitic attacks.
“I spoke to members
of parliament, and they said they understood the bill’s importance,” Zaliasnik
said. “Sometimes bills take a lot of time, sometimes it’s going fast. Now we are
asking them to go fast and give tools in legislation to be able to prosecute
this kind of behavior.”