Group Urges Bolivia to Ensure Safety of Dwindling Jewish Community
After a dynamite attack against the Jewish cemetery in La Paz the American Jewish Committee (AJC) on Thursday called on Bolivian President Evo Morales “to urgently take concrete measures to counter the rise in anti-Semitism, some of it violent,” against the country’s roughly 350-member Jewish community.
Morales, a staunch leftist, came into power in the country of nine million in 2005, and has, since then, developed close ties with Iran, cutting diplomatic ties with Israel in January 2009.
In the capital, La Paz, “President Morales’ hostility towards Israel has encouraged regular attacks against the country’s Jewish population in the media and violent attacks on Jewish institutions,” said Dina Siegel Vann, AJC Director of Latino and Latin American Affairs.
“This is a very dangerous trend that only the government can and should vigorously turn back and end,” Vann said.
Less than 200 Jews remain in the capital, down from 12,000 to 15,000 Jews in the 1950s, according to community officials.
In April and July, the synagogue in Cochabamba in Central Bolivia was attacked by firebomb and rock-wielding assailants.
“If these attacks continue to increase we are going to have problems to regret,” warned community president Ricardo Udler, and called on the government to fully investigate the latest incidents of anti-Semitism.
“Now is the time to open the doors to ensure that this does not get out of hand and leave us lamenting the consequences,” he cautioned.
Morales, who called Israel a “terrorist state” during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, has termed Israel’s treatment of Palestinians “a genocide.”
“Since Evo was elected there’s been a radical change,” Udler told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency earlier this year, warning that “Things could get worse for Jews in Bolivia.”