Anti-semitism stirs in Latin America

Some Latin American governments have signaled their dissatisfaction with Israel’s actions. Chile and Brazil have recalled their ambassadors, Fidel Castro has accused the Israelis of genocide, and governments favorably disposed to Venezuela’s populist revolution have all publicly condemned Israel for the war.

While such political rejection is not anti-Semitic, something new is emerging in Spanish-language social media, mostly among young people, where condemnation of Israel is often accompanied by anti-Semitic diatribes. Latin America is not particularly anti-Semitic, but there is a danger it may become so.

In 1938, Jorge Luis Borges described Argentine anti-Semitism as “facsimile” anti-Semitism, based on European models. This had been true for decades, not only in Argentina but elsewhere in Latin America, where anti-Semitism was based on two imported hatreds: the ancient anti-Judaism of the Spanish Catholic tradition and the modern European racism of the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent years, however, such feelings have been heightened by a third influence — the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — and developed into a new, unexpected prejudice: an anti-Semitism of the left.