Letter to President Sebastian Piñera Echenique of Chile

May 18, 2020

His Excellency Sebastian Piñera Echenique
President of the Republic of Chile
Palacio de la Moneda
Morandé 130, Santiago Chile

Dear Mr. President,

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy in this unprecedented time of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As you may know, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is an internationally recognized organization committed to fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry of all kinds. I write to you today to express my deep concern about recent antisemitic expressions propagated by the local Palestinian Federation across Chilean society.  

Some expressions relate to the global health crisis. For example, there has been hateful rhetoric and the spreading of images that depict Israel as a virus labeled Zion-48 with the claim of Israel as a terrorist state and an illegitimate racist entity that it is “worse” than Covid-19. In these times of heightened anxiety and uncertainty it is unacceptable to use the pandemic to spread the virus of hate. 

Other expressions include claims that Jewish legislators and others who support the Chilean-Israeli Parliamentarian group are complicit in a faraway conflict and should be viewed with suspicion about their true loyalty to Chile. Such accusations perpetuate the centuries-old antisemitic trope of dual loyalty. When fingers are pointed at specific Jewish community members it puts those individuals in harm's way. We are also concerned that the resolution passed by the Municipality of Recoleta referring to “Zionist Terrorist” groups in the context of the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and calls on the government of Chile to protect Palestinians on the “illegal occupation of Israel in all Palestinian territory”.  

Mr. President, sadly these manifestations of hate directed against the Jewish community in Chile are not new. We urge you to take concrete and public steps to demonstrate that you take such hate seriously and commit to ensuring the safety and security of the Chilean community.  One important action could be adopting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism to make clear inside and outside of Chile that your government identifies and rejects manifestations of antisemitic hate.

In addition, you may recall that ADL’s Senior Vice President for International Affairs, Sharon Nazarian, inquired in September 2018 during your presentation at the Council of Foreign Relations about the status of the legislation against incitement of hate as well as the shortcomings of “Ley Zamudio”, the current Anti-Discrimination law. Given that the current Anti-Discrimination law does not allow for communal organizations to file anti-discrimination claims and the penalties are limited to light fines, we believe that a stronger anti-discrimination law should be passed. Furthermore, the pending incitement of hate and violence legislation would equip the Jewish Community of Chile with tools to confront the aggressions targeting them. We urge you to use the power of your office to advance both legislations.

I look forward to meeting with you at a future date and continuing to work with your government on issues of mutual concern.

Sincerely,   

Jonathan Greenblatt
CEO and National Director
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)