Latin American Jewish leaders say internal divisions, community leadership are main problems


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) – Two-thirds of Latin American Jewish leaders approve of the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and 82 percent of respondents believe in the two-state solution, according to a new survey.

The survey also found that the respondents believe the main problems in 2018 are internal divisions in the community and community leadership. Assimilation, seen as the biggest problem in a similar survey last year, was third.

The Argentine political consultancy firm Poliarquia Consultores conducted the poll for the Latin American Jewish Congress, the regional branch of the World Jewish Congress. Some 298 leaders from Jewish communities in 16 Latin American countries were surveyed for the report, with most respondents from Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay.

It is the second consecutive year of the regional World Jewish Congress survey.

When asked what are the “main problems” in the Jewish community, the major answers were “internal divisions” at 54 percent; community leadership, 53 percent; and assimilation, 43 percent. The threat of anti-Semitism was next at 36 percent.

Poverty, the second top concern in 2017, dropped to fifth this year.

Some 64 percent of respondents agree with the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. At the same time, 41 percent believe the decision will negatively affect the Jewish community and just 20 percent believe it will be a positive.

Those who have a positive view believe the move will assist in achieving peace. Those with a negative view focused on security issues.

Related to the conflict in the Middle East, the 82 percent of respondents who believe in the two-state solution match the percentage of 2017. Nearly half of the respondents believe that Jerusalem should be the capital of both states. This number increased to 48 percent this year from 43 percent in 2017.

Half of the respondents affirmed that the Jewish community in their country has the necessary infrastructure to guarantee the safety of the community and 35 percent believe their safety is guaranteed.

Some 75 percent of respondents believe that in their country there are isolated acts of anti-Semitism, and 86 percent of respondents consider that it is between “very” and “quite” safe to live openly as a Jew in their country.

“The results of the survey poses a great challenge for the leaders of the Jewish communities in the region,” Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, based in Buenos Aires, said Friday in a statement.

Regarding relations with other communities, more than 70 percent of respondents believe that the Jewish community must have relationships with the Muslim world and the LGBT community, but recognize that today the link is distant.

As in 2017, respondents believe ignorance is the main cause of anti-Semitism. Three-quarters of respondents believe that the Jewish community must work against all forms of discrimination, and not just focus on anti-Semitism.

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