October 16, 2023 — New York
Colombia President Gustavo Petro has threatened to cut diplomatic relations with Israel, which had suspended exports of security equipment in response to Petro’s comments last week that accused the Jewish State of war crimes while refusing to condemn the massacre of more than 1,300 Israelis by Hamas.
Today, Colombia Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva ordered Israel’s ambassador to Colombia, Gali Dagan, to leave the country.
American Jewish Committee, the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, issued this statement in response:
The threat by Colombia President Gustavo Petro to break off diplomatic relations with Israel is both unfortunate and potentially dangerous. President Petro should not further inflame tensions that arose last week when he likened the Israel Defense Forces to Nazis and said Gaza has been converted into a concentration camp. He has also refused to condemn Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel, which has killed more than 1,300 Israelis, most of them unarmed civilians who were mercilessly slaughtered.
Antisemitic activity typically rises when violence flares up in the Middle East. The president’s antisemitic rhetoric can put Colombia’s Jews in danger at a time when their safety should be of paramount concern. Instead, we urge President Petro to take a hard look at how much Colombia and Israel have benefited from seven decades of warm relations and maintain a constructive dialogue on both nation’s shared interests and values.
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit www.ajc.org.