Chile accepts Israeli ambassador, ending snub saga

Chilean President Gabriel Boric accepted the credentials of Israeli Ambassador Gil Artzyeli on Friday, two weeks after refusing to see him in protest of Israeli actions in the West Bank.

 Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric celebrates with supporters after winning the presidential election in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/RODRIGO GARRIDO)
Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric celebrates with supporters after winning the presidential election in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/RODRIGO GARRIDO)

Chilean President Gabriel Boric accepted the credentials of Israeli Ambassador Gil Artzyeli on Friday, two weeks after refusing to see him to protest IDF actions in the West Bank.

“What a pleasant, important and meaningful meeting with His Excellency the President Gabriel Boric and [Foreign Minister] Antonia Urrejola,” Artzyeli tweeted after the meeting.

The President’s Office tweeted a 30-second video of Boric accepting the credentials of various ambassadors and their countries’ flags, including Israel.

Last month, Boric snubbed Artzyeli, who came to the presidential palace in Santiago at the scheduled time. Anonymous sources told the Chilean press that the reason was the killing of 17-year-old Oday Salah, who was involved in violence against Israeli soldiers who were in Kafr Dan to map a house for demolition after two of its residents shot and killed an IDF officer.

 Supporters of Chilean presidential candidate Gabriel Boric celebrate after their candidate won the presidential election, in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/IVAN ALVARADO) Supporters of Chilean presidential candidate Gabriel Boric celebrate after their candidate won the presidential election, in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/IVAN ALVARADO)

The ceremony was soon rescheduled for the end of the month, and Urrejola apologized in person to President Isaac Herzog on the sidelines of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London.

The Chilean Jewish community, however, was concerned because of Boric’s support for boycotting Israel.

Boric against the Chilean Jewish community

Boric told television station T13 two days after the incident: “I want to express to the Jewish community that they should know that like every Chilean and every person who lives in our country, no one will ever be persecuted or intimidated for their ideas or worldviews, unless they break the law.”

Jewish community leaders pointed out that Boric did not apologize and said they found it strange that he brought up persecution, when that is not the issue at hand.

Gerardo Gorodischer, president of Chile’s Jewish community, argued that “if you say so, you question” the Jews’ right to be treated like all other citizens.

“This generates antisemitism,” he said. “It is something – to see on social networks the increases in antisemitic messages since the diplomatic conflict began. Antisemitism in Chile has become quite virulent.”

As a legislator in 2015, Boric was one of only two MPs who voted against conferring honorary citizenship on prominent Chilean Rabbi Eduardo Waingortin, who has lived in the country since 1988.

“It is something to see on social networks the increases in antisemitic messages since the diplomatic conflict began. Antisemitism in Chile has become quite virulent.”

Gerardo Gorodischer, president of Chiles Jewish community

In 2019, the Chilean Jewish community distributed honey to lawmakers in honor of Rosh Hashanah, with a card reaffirming their commitment to “a more inclusive, supportive and respectful society.” Boric tweeted about the gift with the message: “They could start by asking Israel to return the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.”

In a subsequent virtual meeting with the Jewish community, he accused them of supporting a “murderous state.”