Nix visit by Iranian official, Wiesenthal Center urges Chile’s president


(JTA) — The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the president of Chile to cancel a planned visit by Iran’s foreign minister scheduled for late this week.

The center in a letter urged President Michelle Bachelet to “take appropriate action to restore Chile’s values of coexistence and integration and to protest a state visit from a country that funds terrorist organizations, and whose officials are implicated by INTERPOL in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that left 85 dead and over 300 wounded.”

Dr. Shimon Samuels, the center’s director for international relations, and Dr. Ariel Gelblung, its representative for Latin America, said that “adding fuel to the fire is the upcoming visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister to Chile, billed by the semi-official Persian news agency Fars as aiming to ‘oil the Iranophobic plots promoted by Israel in the region.'”

Mohammad Javad Zarif was expected to arrive in Chile on Thursday during a tour of six Latin American countries that started Sunday in Cuba. Zarif is also scheduled to travel to Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela.

The Wiesenthal Center also highlighted growing hostility in Chile against Israel and, by association, against Jews across Latin America, referencing the recent publication of a viciously anti-Semitic cartoon on the official Twitter account of the Palestinian Federation of Chile that it said was reminiscent of the 1930s Nazi German tabloid Der Sturmer and of Chilean Nazi sympathizers of that period.

“It is especially outrageous that the official website of the Chile Palestinian Federation serves as a tribune for Nazi hate,” Samuels and Gelblung wrote in the letter, urging Bachelet to suspend the federation’s activities pending an investigation into its incitement to anti-Jewish violence.

The Palestinian community in Chile is believed to be the largest outside of the Middle East. At least 300,000 Chileans are of Palestinian descent, according to reports. Some 15,000 Jews live in Chile.

Recently, the University of Chile’s law faculty student union voted to approve a boycott, divestment and sanctions resolution against Israel.

In celebrating the results of the election, the Palestinian Federation of Chile called it a demonstration of the law students against “Israeli apartheid.”

Recommended from JTA