Chile's President Sebastian Pinera places notes from the Anne Frank school in Santiago into the Western Wall.
(photo credit: WESTERN WALL HERITAGE FOUNDATION)
Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera has hit the ground running following his arrival in Israel on Monday night.
Pinera is on a three-day visit to Israel and is scheduled to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian Authority politicians.
On Tuesday morning, Pinera visited both the Western Wall and Yad Vashem with his wife Cecilia Morel, as well as a large delegation as part of his visit to the country.
During his visit to the Western Wall, director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mordechai Eliav, explained the history of the site to Pinera, and about why it is a house of prayer for all nations, the foundation said in a statement.
Chile’s leader also heard about Jewish yearning for Jerusalem throughout the generations.
“The president shared his vast knowledge of the site's history and was deeply impressed, despite this not being his first visit to the Western Wall,” the Heritage Foundation highlighted, adding that he also received an album about the Western Wall Tunnels as a souvenir.
Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, “recited a chapter of Psalms with the president and blessed him with King Solomon’s prayer that all his prayers will be accepted with goodwill.”
The rabbi told Pinera that visiting the Western Wall, “expresses identification with the values and heritage of the Jewish nation.”
While standing at the Wall, Pinera said the school named for Anne Frank in Santiago “prepared notes with their prayers,” which he brought with him “to place between the stones of the Wall during this respectable and moving ceremony.”
Pinera also signed the Western Wall guest book with a prayer asking God to bring peace to the Holy Land.
During his visit to Yad Vashem, Pinera laid a wreath at the memorial and also visited the Memorial to the Righteous Among the Nations in which Chilean diplomat Samuel del Campo is honored for saving Jews in Romania’s capital Bucharest during the Holocaust.
Between 1941 and 1943, del Campo saved some 1,200 Jews by issuing them Chilean passports.
Pinera is also scheduled to meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Tuesday and Wednesday.
Relations between Chile and the Jewish state have been shaky since 2011, when the South American country recognized Palestine as an independent state.
However, Netanyahu and Pinera had a warm meeting in January while the two were in Brazil, and discussed several issues including working together to advance direct flights to Israel via Africa and shortening travel time, as well as deepening bilateral trade links.
Last month, the Latin American Football Confederation fined the Chilean Palestinian Football Club for calling on the public to support the "Liberation of Palestine" before a match with Alianza Lima of Peru.
In an odd twist of history, the Palestinian football club in Chile was created by Jewish residents of that country in the 1920s as Jews were the only people considered Palestinians at the time; the introduction of Arabs to the club only took place after 1948.
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