Members of the Palestinian community in Chile.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel's top diplomat in Chile is accusing the local Palestinian community of trying to muzzle hasbara efforts by making threats of physical violence against Jews.
Tensions between the Jewish and Arab communities of Chile are on the rise Thursday after the organization representing Palestinian expats officially demanded that the government declare Israel's ambassador to Santiago persona non grata.
The Federacion Palestina de Chile submitted a request to the Chilean Foreign Ministry demanding that Rafi Eldad, Jerusalem's ambassador to Santiago, be officially shunned by the government.
Local Palestinians said that Eldad's accusations of incitement to violence were "slanderous" and that they hindered their ability "to defend the Palestinian people."
Chile is home to the largest community of transplanted Palestinians whose population is estimated at 300,000 people. In recent years, relations between local Palestinians and Jews have become fraught, particularly during times of crisis.
Israeli embassy officials in Santiago said that any pro-Israel event in the country is disrupted by Palestinians. Diplomats said that there has been an increase in the number of anti-Semitic incident as well as an escalation in anti-Israel rhetoric and incitement.
"We completely reject the recent claims made by Ambassador Eldad, who said that our federation has been systematically sowing dissension and inciting to hatred between the Palestinian and Jewish communities," the federation wrote in a letter sent to the Foreign Ministry. "This is a well-known tactic aimed at deflecting any criticism of Israel and its murderous policies."
Israeli officials reject the Palestinian efforts to have Eldad shunned by the government as illegal.
"We are suffering from a great deal of tension here as events in the Middle East intensify," Eldad told The Jerusalem Post
's Hebrew-language sister publication Ma'ariv
. "The Palestinians are trying to disrupt any event that we put on here. They incite on web sites and social media, and I'm certainly fearful that this tension could escalate to physical violence."
"I see their complaint about me as a badge of honor, and a sign that our hasbara is yielding fruit. We are in a constant struggle for hearts and minds."