Anti-semitism in Uruguay

The Jewish community in Uruguay, an estimated 45,000 among a population of three million, is concerned over a sharp increase in anti-Semitism this past year, the American Jewish Committee reported here.

Attacks on synagogues, Jewish organizations and Jewish students have been growing in number, according to reports reaching the AJ Committee, and distribution of anti-Semitic literature has become more widespread. Books like the notorious Czarist anti-Semitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” are available in editions coming from Spain and Mexico and Argentina, too, though such volumes are now forbidden in the latter country because of their racist character. In Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, there is even a book stand that specializes in anti-Semitic material.

The Jewish Central Committee in Uruguay has gone to top-level authorities to denounce this state of affairs. There was a promise from the Ministers of Justice and of Foreign Affairs that a law would be passed under which propaganda inciting racial discrimination would be severely punished. More than a year has elapsed since that promise was made, but no such law has yet been passed, the AJ Committee reported.

Some Uruguayan newspapers reported that the government was not acting because officials felt adoption of such a law would implicitly acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination. This brought a denial by Justice Minister Bayardo Bengoa, but no action on the law was forthcoming. The independent Uruguayan press generally has been supportive of the Jewish community position, according to the AJ Committee.

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