RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Legislators from 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries have signed a resolution to encourage their governments to increase efforts to strengthen ties with Israel and condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement.
The lawmakers met last week in Miami for the Israel Allies Foundation’s second annual Latin America Summit on Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported. The foundation works with parliaments around the world to mobilize political support for Israel based on Jewish-Christian values.
The signatories “unequivocally declare, personally, our support for the Jewish people to live in peace, safety and security in the Land of Israel,” read the Spanish-language resolution. “Strong relations between the Western Hemisphere and Israel are crucial to the spread of freedom, democracy and justice around the world.
“Boycotts and sanctions against the State of Israel and its products contribute to an anti-Semitic attitude inspired by anti-Semitism and opposition to the Jewish State. They are detrimental to a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and must be rejected by all actors that seek peace.”
The document also said that Middle Eastern countries with nuclear weapons pose a threat to Israel and the world.
Israeli Knesset member Michael Oren, a keynote speaker at the event, said Israel should relate to Latin American countries as it does with superpowers.
“South America is a huge continent with economic and diplomatic influence,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
Venezuelan congressman Julio Borges, the head of the political opposition in the Venezuelan National Assembly, said it was unfortunate that in the last decade his country’s support for Israel has declined.
“It’s critical we reverse the trend and strengthen our relationship,” he said.
The group also discussed the death of Argentine Jewish prosecutor Alberto Nisman last year, as well as the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. The group said it believes that under its newly elected president, Mauricio Macri, Argentina may again assume an important pro-Israel position in a region where many nations have far-left governments with open anti-Semitism.
Latin America is home to some 500,000 Jews. Argentina has the region’s largest Jewish population with some 230,000 people, followed by Brazil at 120,000. However, for the second year in a row, Brazilian Jews outnumbered their Argentine neighbors in the number of new immigrants to Israel, with nearly 500 in 2015, due to major political and economic crises in South America’s largest nation.