AJC called on Bolivian President Evo Morales to urgently take concrete measures to counter the rise in antisemitism, some of it violent, in the South American country.

“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.”

In Cochabamba in Central Bolivia, the main Jewish cemetery was damaged in a dynamite attack last Saturday. The synagogue in that city has been attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails in April and again in July.

Ricardo Udler, president of the Jewish Community of Bolivia, has called on the government to fully investigate the latest incidents of antisemitism. “If these attacks continue to increase we are going to have problems to regret,” said Udler. “Now is the time to open the doors to ensure that this does not get out of hand and leave us lamenting the consequences.”

Morales severed diplomatic ties with Israel in January 2009, calling Israel’s treatment of Palestinians “a genocide,” and during the most recent Israel-Hamas war Morales called Israel “a terrorist state.” In another slight against Israel, the president also renounced a 1972 Bolivian-Israeli treaty that had exempted Israeli tourists from any visa requirements.

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