ADL brings Latino journalists to Israel

Hailing from US, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela journalists brought over as part drive to counter high levels of anti-Semitism among Latinos compared to broader US population.

November 18, 2011 04:18
2 minute read.
Photojournalists [file photo]

Photojournalists photographers journalists reporters 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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A group of senior Latino and Latin American journalists, editors and producers completed an eight-day mission to Israel this week.

Hailing from the United States, Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela, they were brought over as part of the Anti- Defamation League’s drive to reach out to Latin Americans and US Hispanic communities, to counter what it sees as Latinos’ less favorable attitudes toward Israel and the higher level of anti-Semitism found among them compared to the broader US population.

“The Hispanic community is the largest growing ethnic community in the US,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “Inevitably this means that their impact on government, on domestic issues and on foreign policy is also growing, so as they become more and more of an economic, cultural and political force in the US, now is the time for the Jewish and Hispanic communities to get to know each other.”

The 17 participants in the ADL mission left Israel on Monday, having met with Israeli and Palestinian politicians, activists and religious officials. Stops on the tour included the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, Sderot, Nazareth, Safed, Lake Kinneret and the Golan.

Among the participants was Henrik Rehbinder, national news editor of La Opinion, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in America.

“Our bread and butter issues are immigration, the economic status of Latinos, and other more domestic issues,” said Rehbinder. “But because Latinos are such a big proportion of the US population now, they have an interest in all foreign policy issues, because they affect our community as much as everyone else.”

He noted that “many US soldiers are Latino, and many of them are fighting in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Afghanistan, so this is another reason why we have an interest in what goes on here. We’re stakeholders in important decisions like foreign aid and going to war, so we want to make sure our voice is also heard in Washington and Congress when it comes to decisions like the invasion of Iraq.”

Rehbinder admitted that certain prejudices against Jews did exist in the Hispanic community, such as the notion that Jews are especially wealthy, but said that cooperation and work with the Jewish community was helping to overcome these kind of problems.

Foxman echoed these concerns, citing the ADL survey on anti-Semitism published this month. The survey showed that whereas the overall level of anti-Semitism in the US is approximately 15 percent, the figure is 20% among US-born Hispanics, and twice that much among immigrants born in Latin America and now residing in the States.

“There is a serious level of anti-Semitism which infects the Hispanic community, especially those who have come from outside the US,” Foxman said. “The church has tremendous impact there, and deficiencies in education there are also a factor. But this is why the American Jewish community is investing in relationships with Latinos – and importantly, Latino leaders don’t deny that there’s an issue, so this is what we’re aiming to address.”

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