Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal today said ‘old fashioned’ anti-Semitism is alive and well in South America.
In her remarks at the 2011 B’nai B’rith International Policy Conference, Ms. Rosenthal said B’nai B’rith has been a leading human rights organization since its founding in 1843, not only for the Jewish community, but worldwide.
“In the 21st century we are still facing rising anti-Semitism internationally and the shores of this continent are far from immune.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She reported that in a recent survey undertaken by the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, over 50% of the respondents acknowledged that there is discrimination against Jews. In Venezuela, government-affiliated media carry anti-Semitic expressions.
“And in Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil we have reports of anti-Semitic desecrations and harassment. These incidents tell us that anti-Semitism is not history, it is news.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She said more than six decades after the end of the Second World War, anti-Semitism remains alive and well. It is evolving into new, contemporary forms of religious hatred, racism, and political, social, and cultural bigotry.
She said traditional forms of anti-Semitism are passed from one generation to the next, and sometimes updated to reflect current events.
“We are all familiar with hostile acts such as the defacing of property and the desecration of cemeteries with anti-Semitic graffiti. There are still some accusations of blood libel, which are morphing from the centuries-old accusations by the Catholic Church that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood for rituals, to accusations that Jews kidnap children to steal their organs.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She noted that conspiracy theories continue to have traction with some groups, such as supposed Jewish control of the U.S. media and the world banking system, or that Jews were involved in executing the September 11 attacks. She said the old Czarist forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” can be found in all corners of the world from parts of the OSCE region to right here in South America.
“On a visit to Chile, I saw swastikas spray-painted on university campuses. When I addressed a gathering of Jews from Latin America, Chileans who were present told me they feel uncomfortable wearing kippot and other outward symbols of Judaism.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She noted that Argentine Jews have told her that the unresolved 1992 and 1994 bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the AMIA Center and in Buenos Aires remains an open wound among their community.
“Jewish communities in the region have told me that the close association of some Latin American countries to a virulent anti-Semite and Holocaust denier like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad leaves them unsettled.” -Ms. Rosenthal