There was a steep escalation in
antisemitic events in 2006: 153 compared to 56 in 2005. The growing presence in the country of radical Islamic groups and, to a certain extent,
racist skinheads, poses an increasing threat to the Jewish community.
The Jewish community
Jewish community of Chile, numbering approximately 15,000 out of a total
population of 14.5 million, is concentrated mostly in the capital Santiago de
Chile, with a scattering in the provinces of Iquique, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Concepción, Temuco and Valdivia. Most Jews are unaffiliated
religiously. The Representative Committee of Jewish Organizations in Chile
(CREJ) encompasses all Jewish communities and organizations in the country.
There are two Jewish schools in Santiago and one in Viña del Mar.
Several publications cater to the needs of the community.
influence of Islamic leaders in Latin America is of great concern to
Jewish communities in the region. There is an expanding Muslim presence in Santiago, as well as in Coquimbo, Temuco and Puerto Montt, and especially in northern Chile (some 3,000 Muslims in all, about half in Santiago). Several Islamic organizations are active:
Asociación Islámica de Chile “Imán Zainul Abdón,”
Centro de Cultura y Beneficencia Islámico (Centro Cultural
Islámico de Santiago), Centro Chileno Islámico de Cultura
de Puerto Montt, Hezbollah Latinoamérica, Centro Cultural
Islámico Mohammed VI (Mezquita de Coquimbo). Members of this sector manifested
troubling tendencies during the Second Lebanon War. Speaking on the TV program
"Zero Tolerance" (Tolerancia cero), transmitted by Chilevision, Shaykh
Suhail Assad, the leading force of the Centro Cultural Islamico and the most
powerful representative of Shi`I Islam in Chile (see below), declared on a
visit to Colombia during this period, that “since the creation of the State of
Israel the Muslim people have felt oppressed because of the presence of a foreign
entity in the region that has imposed itself by force.” Assad, an increasingly
influential leader in the community, reportedly has ties to the fugitive Moshen Rabbani,
one of the suspects in the 1994 AMIA bombing in Argentina. Outspoken on behalf
of Hizballah and Iran, he maintains a high profile, lecturing at universities, and
participating in discussion forums and TV panels. Following the Second Lebanon
War, Assad voiced support for Hamas, claiming it was a legitimate political
The repeated visits to Iran of Abdul Karim Paz,
formerly imam of the al-Tahuid Mosque in Buenos Aires and now imam of the
Centro Cultural Islamico in Santiago de Chile, and of Javier Oyarzún,
secretary of the Centro Cultural Islámico de Puerto Montt, who claims to
have undergone theological training there, exemplify the growing links between Chilean
Islamic groups and the Islamic Republic. Paz is allegedly linked to the
perpetrators of the AMIA bombing.
Latin America has a presence on the Internet but is practically inactive
in Chile (see Ely Karmon, “International
Terror and Antisemitism: Is There a Connection?”).
right-wing organizations active in 2006 were Patria Nueva Sociedad (PNS) and
several skinhead/neo-Nazi groups, including Club Celta and Legión
Cóndor. The latter, led by a policeman A.M. Carvajal, is affiliated to
Martillos del Sur, which operates in the neighborhoods of Quinteros and
Playancha in the city of Valparaiso. Following an attack by this group on the El
Dique bar, Valparaiso, in 2002 (see ASW
2002/3), its members were to stand trial.
Extreme rightists were not involved in much
antisemitic activity in 2006; however, this may change in the future because of
the neo-Nazi ideology of the strongly organized skinhead movement, which is
expanding in areas of Santiago, such as Sector
Oriente where many Jews live, as well as in the provinces. Skinheads were preoccupied in 2006 with their conflict with
Violent confrontations between neo-Nazis and
punkists and anti-fascists left some dead and wounded. For instance in February
a young punkist died in Santiago after being beaten by a neo-Nazi militant in
December 2005. On 25 June a neo-Nazi youth was murdered in Conchali by the anti-fascist
group Accion Rebelde (Rebel Action). His funeral was attended by many
neo-Nazis, who handed out propaganda material. Ten of them were arrested, and several
were sentenced to 5 to 10 years imprisonment.
Two armed neo-Nazis were
interviewed on TV, on 19 June, by the journalist José Miguel de la Fuente. They explained they were licensed to carry weapons as they knew how to use them.
Blood & Honour C18 Chile, part of the
transnational organization of the same name, published an article on its web
page www.chile.bloodandhonour.net (30 Aug.) on “Zionist Projects in Chile,” which claims that Jews are constructing a new state in Patagonia, “the new Jerusalem of South America.” This group was one of the few that took an openly antisemitic and
anti-Zionist position. The neo-Nazi Blood & Honour C18 Chile have been
active in the country since 2005. Their aims are to support the “white sector
around the world” (orgullo blanco mundialmente) and to struggle “against
Zionist projects” in Chile.
Nueva Sociedad (PNS), the leading far right organization, has a website and
disseminates the publication Accion Chilena. Although its ideology
includes Nazi elements, it has tried to distance itself from the skinhead
movement. PNS leader Alexis Lopez fears that a draft law against discrimination
under discussion in the Congress will damage the group.
Moreover, PPD (Democracy Party) Congressman Antonio Leal was planning to
introduce a motion to declare neo-Nazi groups unconstitutional. Another
right-wing group, Cultura Europea, published two articles by Alexis Lopez on
its web page, in which he outlined the differences between neo-Nazi skinheads
and his own group, PNS.
A new radical right-wing group called
Unidad Operativa de Fuerza Nacional was reported in July. Also appearing under
the name Komando Oriente, they operate in four neighborhoods of Santiago where many Jews are concentrated: Maipu, Providencia, La Reina and Las Condes.
The Left Wing
left wing in Chile openly identifies with the Arab community, evidenced in its
presence at demonstrations in support of the Arab cause, such as a rally that
took place outside on the US embassy on 19 July during the Second Lebanon War.
There was a
steep escalation in antisemitic events in 2006: 153 compared to 56 in 2005 (30 in 2004, 54 in 2003, and 78 in 2002). The main trigger seems to have been the Second
Lebanon War but the Jewish community has felt threatened for several years,
indirectly by Iran (due to its involvement in the 1994 AMIA bombing in
Argentina), but particularly due to the growing presence in the country of
radical Islamic groups, and to some extent racist skinheads, who might expand
their activity to targeting Jews. Antisemitism was manifested mainly in
harassment (40 acts) and suspicious activity in the vicinity of Jewish
facilities (observing them and taking pictures − 47), but there were also
five violent attacks. There were three reports of threats and 35 of
graffiti. The rate of antisemitic
expressions began to decrease after the war.
On 26 March, for example, a group of some 20
Palestinians, aged 25−28, shouted antisemitic slogans and tried to beat up
eight boys in their late teens, four of them from the Jewish community. The
victims were in the lobby of the Estadio Palestino, club where an event for
young people was taking place.
Many incidents were recorded during the war. One
of the most serious occurred in the Liceo Manuel Salas school in Santiago, where a boy held a knife to the throat of a girl, on 8 August, saying, “I will
kill you because you are a Jewess.” The boy was suspended for two days and then
for the year 2007.
Windows of cars parked outside a building on Tobalada St., where several members of the Jewish community live, were smashed on 8 August. According
to neighbors, neo-Nazis were the culprits.
Three drunkards tried to hit a security guard in
front of the Jafetz Jaim community synagogue on 26 August and shouted “Dirty
Jew. Long live Palestine. We will kill you.” The three, of Palestinian origin,
were eventually arrested in their homes in the neighborhood.
Second Lebanon War, an extreme left group named Conciencia (Conscience) hung three
posters in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Chile. The first, with
an Israeli flag on the back, referred to the “massacre perpetrated by the
capitalist Nazi State of Israel”; the second showed the Israeli flag, with the
Star of David replaced by a swastika, while the third condemned the US and
European states for giving arms to Israel in order to maintain their socio-economic
On 23 February,
the interior minister decided to deport a French citizen, Christian Hochendel,
who was accused of sending antisemitic e-mails to the international anti-racist
organization LICRA (Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l'antisemitisme) and
to a synagogue in France. This decision was grounded in the Foreigners Law which
permits deportation of foreigners who disseminate ideas violating the social
order. However, the Supreme Court released him from jail on 27 September
because it was uncertain whether he was the perpetrator.