star of david.
(photo credit: courtesy)
Peruvian voters will go to the polls Sunday to pick a president from among four
front-runners, two of whom have ties to Judaism or Israel.
Kuczynski, the son of a Jewish physician who fled Nazi Germany, is one of a
group of hopefuls engaged in a tight race for the presidency in the South
American nation. Kucyznski, who on his mother’s side is related to French
director Jean-Luc Goddard, is a Harvard-educated economist who promises to
eradicate poverty in the Andean state if elected.
He is running against
his one-time boss Alejandro Toledo, Peru’s president between 2001 and 2006,
under whom he served as finance minister and prime minister. Toledo is
considered a close friend of Israel and is married to Eliane Karp, a Belgian-
born Jew who has Israeli citizenship and speaks Hebrew. The politician grew up
in an impoverished family of indigenous Quechua origin with 15 other siblings
and went on to do a doctorate in human resources from Stanford University before
entering politics. He last visited Israel three years ago as a guest of the
Peres Center for Peace on occasion of its tenth year anniversary.
other leading candidates are Ollanta Humala, a leftist politician who recently
took a lead in the polls, and Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former Peruvian
president Alberto Fujimori, who was convicted of conspiracy to murder and
corruption during his presidency and is serving a prison sentence in
If none of the candidates receive over 50 percent of the vote,
which seems unlikely at the moment, the two leading candidates will enter a
If Kuczynski, who is currently ranked third in the
polls, is eventually elected he will be the first president with Jewish heritage
in Peru but he will by no means be the first prominent Jewish figure in the
At about 2,000 people, Peru’s Jewish community is one of the
smallest yet most influential in South America. Many of its members are
high-ranking politicians, businessmen, scientists and artists.
there have been at least two other prime ministers with Jewish backgrounds
besides Kuzcynski: Efrain Goldberg, who served as finance and foreign minister
in the 1990s, and Yehude Simon, a leftist politician who was briefly prime
minister two years ago and is the son of a Jewish father and Italian mother.
David Waisman, a Romanian-born Jew, served as Toledo’s vice president between
2001 and 2006.