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Anti-semitic Violence in Uruguay

Acting on reports on anti-Semitic violence in Uruguay during the recent High Holy Days, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has disclosed it had obtained assurances from Uruguay’s ambassador to the United States that those responsible would be apprehended.

According to ADL’s Latin American affairs director, Rabbi Morton M. Rosenthal, who met with Ambassador Jose Perez Caldas in Washington to discuss the Yom Kippur bombing of a synagogue and subsequent cemetery desecration, the diplomat stated: “The government and the people of Uruguay categorically repudiate the actions committed against institutions belonging to the Jewish community of Uruguay. I can assure you that the competent agencies of my country will do all that is necessary in order to identify the perpetrators of these outrages.”

Rosenthal said it was the second time in six months that the Jewish community was shaken by anti-Jewish violence. The most recent rash began with a powerful blast through one of the country’s largest synagogues in Montevideo, Vaad Lehisuk Hadat, only hours after the congregation had completed its Yom Kippur service. No one was injured, but the main door was blown to pieces, windows shattered and neighboring buildings damaged.

The explosion in the heart of the city’s Jewish section brought immediate condemnation from the Comite Central Israelita del Uruguay, the representative body of the Jewish community, which called the attack a “savage form of anti-Semitism and an act of terrorism.” The Committee expressed hope that the authorities would take all necessary measures to identify those responsible for “this vandalistic act” which “constitutes an insult to the nation.”

Three days later, vandals struck again, this time defacing a Jewish cemetery with anti-Semitic slogans and swastikas.

Rosenthal said these latest incidents follow a series of anti-Jewish attacks last April which caused wide concern within the Uruguayan Jewish community, the third largest in South America. At that time, a synagogue, school and home for the aged were defaced with swastikas and windows were shattered. In another attack, shots were fired at several Jewish institutional buildings and also at a monument which recalls the Nazi destruction of Lidice, Czechoslovakia.

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