Rabbi Moshe Pitchon

Rabbi Moshe Pitchon

Reading the TaNaKh in the 21st century

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The Future President of Chile?

Daniel Jadue is one of the presidential hopefuls in the November 2021 elections in Chile, his chances are better than good. He is also among the” top ten worst anti-Semitic incidents of 2020” according to the Jewish human rights organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center- headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

Widely considered bright, the outstanding head of one of the thirty-seven municipalities that make up Greater Santiago (Chile’s capital as well as one of the largest cities in the Americas), he is also criticized as a “know-it-all.” Someone sarcastic in his confrontations never missing the opportunity to remind others of their political failures.

He accuses his country’s Jews of dual loyalty and to try to control the media. As quoted by the Wiesenthal, he said: “It is an insult that the State of Israel through its agents here in Chile wants to import the strife” … “they have to learn and define if they are Chilean citizens.”

Without proof, he preposterously charges that the students of the Jewish school (Instituto Hebreo) receive military training in Israel.

When the director of Public Space called-out his antisemitism as parroting the fabricated anti-Semitic pamphlet the “Protocols of the Elders Zion” his answer was: “you have been defending Zionist terrorism for many years, and that’s frankly inhuman.” (?)

Mr. Jadue, whose grandparents are from Beit Jala, and was connected with the PLO in the 80s, was president of the General Union of Palestinian Students between 1987 and 1991 and General Coordinator of the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Palestinian youth between 1991 and 1993. This, he doesn’t see as a reason to make him a suspect of being a foreign agent the same way being a Jew and belonging to a Jewish organization proves that Chilean Jews are agents of Israel.

This from a man who says “I get along very well with the Jews, with the Zionists I have certain problems.” Noting that Mr. Jadue is always referring to Chile’s Jews as the “Zionist” community of Chile.

The explanation given by Mr. Jadue and his supporters why he so relentlessly injects a conflict that is far and distant into the local politics of his Latin American country is due to his concern for international human rights. The State of Israel, in his words, being “the most condemned state in the world for its human rights violations.”

Disconcertingly then, Mr. Jadue in July 2019 severely criticized Chile’s former president Michelle Bachelet because, in her new role as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged the government of Venezuela “to halt and remedy the grave violations of economic, social, civil, political and cultural rights documented in the country.” 

If Mr. Jadue opted for closing his eyes to human rights violations documented among other international organizations, by the United Nations in Venezuela, at the same time that he remains silent to the oppression of 25 million Kurds by Turks, Iraqis, Iranians, and Syrians.

He also considers that the 5.5 million Syrians forced out of their country and the 6.1 million others internally displaced (including almost a million people forced to flee fighting in north-west Syria in the last few months) doesn’t rise to the level of human right violations in Israel.

The Genocide of more than 500,000 Syrian citizens by their government does not merit to be mentioned when viewing the “magnitude” of the Israeli “genocide.” Do Mr. Jadue and his acolytes understand the meaning of “genocide” they use so freely when talking about Israel?  

When he refers to Israel’s status in disputed lands as the epitome of “occupation,” where does he places China’s occupation of Tibet? It certainly has been longer, more brutal, and less justified than Israel’s claims in the West Bank.

 The list of the mayor’s omissions of human rights is so blatant that it is impossible not to see the double standard in his singling Israel as part of his agenda to smear the Chilean Jewish community.

Defenders of the mayor argue that criticism of the State of Israel should not be interpreted as a form of antisemitism. Putting aside the fact that labeling Mr. Jadue an anti-Semite is not based on his one-sided criticism of Israel but on his libels against the Jews and the Chilean Jewish institutions, let’s not ignore that while opposition to Israeli policies and Israel’s existence are in and of themselves far from being anti- Semitic in reality- and despite protests to the contrary- in the case of Mr. Jadue, his anti- Israel diatribes include anti- Semitic tropes and comments.

Some years ago, Swedish journalist Thomas Gür commented on what should be an honest, non-partisan understanding of the tragedy involving Israelis and Palestinians. He wrote:

It is obvious that Israel does not in all regards live up to the ideal image of how a democratic and open society should act. At the same time, we have no idea how any other democratic open society would have developed and acted in the same situation as the one Israel has found itself in since its establishment… One can make an intellectual experiment about what Swedish society would look like if for the past 60 years we had been more or less continuously threatened and sometimes directly attacked by neighboring countries-often in coalitions-with the goal to abrogate the existence of the Swedish state. Neighbors would also, in between the attacks, have encouraged acts of terror on Swedish soil and also trained and provided for these terrorists. How tolerant, open, and free would Sweden as a country have been under such circumstances?

           What is noteworthy about Israel is not its flaws, for which it deserves to be criticized, but that despite everything it has managed to keep its character of a democratic state and open society through six decades. (Thomas Gür” Demokratin lever trots alla ar av hot,” Svenska Dagbladet, 17 May 2008 [Swedish] )”

Mr. Jadue and his defenders should experiment with changing “Sweden” for “Chile” on the above article and see how their discourse would be affected.

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