SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (JTA) — The Argentine branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center called for the dismissal of the U.N.’s General Assembly president because of his recent anti-Israeli comments.
According to the center, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua accused Israel of "crucifying our Palestinian brothers and sisters" and labeled Israel an "apartheid state." The center said Latin American nations, who hold the rotating presidency this year, should change their choice to preside over the global body.
"D’Escoto Brockmann’s statements, promoting anti-Semitism and the destruction of a Member-State of the United Nations, are an abuse of the honorable position that he holds," Wiesenthal Center officials Shimon Samuels and Sergio Widder wrote in a letter to the Latin American bloc released Tuesday.
The World Jewish Congress also assailed Brockmann’s comments. In a statement, WJC President Ronald Lauder said the accusations were "false and without basis."
During the 1980s, d’Escoto was the foreign minister for Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government during a period in which relations with Israel were broken and the country became a focal point of the Cold War. As foreign minister, d’Escoto oversaw Nicaragua’s attempts to forge close relationships with Soviet bloc and Arab countries, and the Sandinista regime provided refuge and granted citizenship to a number of Palestinian Liberation Organization members.
The "Palestinian Embassy" that opened in Managua during d’Escoto’s stint remains open and is one of the more active diplomatic missions in the country.
That same decade, the Nicaraguan Jewish community, never amounting to more than 200, went into exile. Its members only began returning when the Sandinistas were voted out of power in 1990.
Israel and Nicaragua now have formal diplomatic relations and some 50 Jews have begun a revival of their community.
With the return of the Sandinistas to power last year, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has launched cozy ties with Iran, a country he has visited twice officially, although his government has distanced itself from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statements questioning the historical validity of the Holocaust.