December 17, 2020
This is the second installment of a series on the State of Antisemitism Around the Globe, in which AJC experts share their insights about nine international communities where particular expressions of Jew hatred are on the rise. The next piece will focus on Central Europe.
Chile has become a dangerous place to be Jewish. Simply put, there is no stigma for antisemites. Since the Gaza War in 2014, the Jewish community has experienced an uptick in hateful attacks, while the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement presents a major challenge to Jewish life.
Fueling the hostility has been a pocket of radicals within the 400,000 strong Palestinian community in the country, who have worked hard to put the Middle East conflict on the country's national agenda. As Chile grapples with economic inequalities, this group of activists has tried to seize on the political climate and steer attention and blame toward Israel and the Jews.
“So far, there is no particular price to be paid in the public square by indulging in antisemitic rhetoric or behavior, whether politically, legally, or in terms of collective shame,” said Dina Siegel Vann, Director of AJC's Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs.
Some Palestinian leaders in Chile have nicknamed COVID-19 the “Zion Virus,” and as the country experienced a surge of cases earlier this year, legislators of all political stripes unconscionably prioritized a resolution condemning Israel’s proposed annexation and demanding the cancellation of trade and other agreements with the Jewish state.
AJC has worked closely with the Chilean Jewish community of 20,000 to remind Chile's government and civil society that antisemitic attacks—if not prevented or combatted—threaten the country’s culture of diversity and inclusion and pose a real and present danger to Chile's democratic present and future. AJC and Chile’s Jewish community have urged successive governments consistently to add antisemitism to anti-discrimination legislation and to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.