NEW YORK (Dec. 9)
Several recent acts of terrorist violence in Peru have been directed at Jewish targets there, according to the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and other sources who are in touch with the Peruvian Jewish community.
The violence includes the bombing of a synagogue and Jewish businesses and the kidnapping of a prominent Jewish industrialist.
Responsibility for these acts has been taken by the Revolutionary Movement of Tupac Amaru, which has blamed Jews and Jewish-owned businesses as symbols of “reactionary imperialism.”
The terrorist group, known by the Spanish initials MRTA, claimed responsibility for the bombing of a synagogue in the capital city of Lima on Nov. 9. The group is also believed responsible for bombing the U.S. Consulate in Lima two days later.
No one was injured in the synagogue blast, which destroyed the front wall of the building. The Ashkenazic synagogue is not currently in use.
The Jewish Association of Peru condemned the bombing as an affront to the “religious sentiments of all Peruvians,” and called on all sectors of society to reject the attempt to attack religious institutions “as a means of attaining political objectives,” ADL reported.
JEWISH INDUSTRIALIST KIDNAPPED
Last Monday, a Jewish industrialist, Hory Chlimper, 69, was kidnapped in his office at his pharmaceutical plant in Lima, according to the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.
But it is not clear that he was kidnapped because he is Jewish. While Chlimper identifies as a Jews, he is not actively involved in Jewish communal affairs, according to the Latin American Jewish Congress. His kidnapping may be more connected to his profession, the congress said.
The pharmaceutical industry received beneficial treatment during the previous administration of President Alan Garcia, and now the extreme left is accusing that industry of having enriched itself at the expense of the poor.
Although it is believed that Chlimper was abducted for that reason, officials point out that it was a Jewish businessman of that industry who was kidnapped. But there has been nothing to substantiate that he was singled out because of his Jewishness.
“If the Jewish community had the conviction or a well-founded assumption that this is an anti-Semitic event, it would immediately have reacted,” said a prominent member of the Latin American congress, Eduardo Bigio of Buenos Aires.
Still, Yuval Metzer, Israeli ambassador to Peru, told Ma’ariv there has been an ongoing cycle of terror against Jews in recent weeks.
A mattress store owned by Jews was set afire and its owners identified in a pamphlet as Zionists, according to Ma’ariv.
The Tupac Amaru name appeared on a letter sent last month to a Jewish school in Lima with a list of Jews identified as imperialists marked for death. Following this, the bomb was delivered to the synagogue, ADL reported.
Tupac Amaru took responsibility in a communique published in Diario, the group newspaper.
Rabbi Morton Rosenthal, director of ADL’s Latin American affairs department, said Tupac Amaru is linking Jews with what it calls “North American imperialism.”
The targets seem to match those found on documents in the possession of three members of the Abu Nidal terrorist organization who were caught in Lima in July 1988. Their targets included prominent Jews, Jewish and Israeli institutions and American institutions.
Last May, the three men were freed and are somewhere in Peru, according to Rosenthal.
AN ABU NIDAL CONNECTION?
One of the three, Hocine Bouzidi, is suspected of links to the November 1985 hijacking of an Egyptian jetliner in which an Israeli woman was killed. He is also suspected of helping plan the December 1985 attacks at the El Al counters of the Rome and Vienna airports, in which 20 people were killed and more than 100 injured.
Rosenthal said there may have been contacts between members of Tupac Amaru and the Abu Nidal terrorists in prison. But precise ties between the groups are not known, he said.
In July, the secretary of the Jewish Association of Peru, Jacobo Hasson, was shot while driving near his home. Following surgery on his hand, he left Peru for Israel, where he remains.
“We’ve spoken to the government,” Rosenthal said. “You have to recognize that the government is besieged by attacks on other targets. They are hitting power sources, electricity to the capital. It is a tough situation.”
About 5,000 Jews live in Peru. A member of the community visiting the United States, who asked not to be identified, said, “It can’t be said it’s a dire situation for the Jews. It’s the general situation of the country.”