Jews call for government action in Bolivia after attacks
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Jews call for government action in Bolivia after attacks

American Jewish Committee blames President Evo Morales’s anti-Israel statements for encouraging violence

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Bolivian President Evo Morales. (Photo credit: CC BY/Sebastian Baryli via Flickr.com)
Bolivian President Evo Morales. (Photo credit: CC BY/Sebastian Baryli via Flickr.com)

A rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Bolivia has left Jews concerned, amid criticism of the government’s role in stoking hostility toward Jews in the country.

On Saturday, a dynamite attack damaged the main Jewish cemetery in the capital La Paz. A synagogue in the city of Cochabamba was attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails in April and in July.

Ricardo Udler, president of Bolivia’s Jewish community, called for government action after the incidents.

“If these attacks continue to increase we are going to have problems to regret,” he said. “Now is the time to open the doors to ensure that this does not get out of hand and leave us lamenting the consequences.”

The American Jewish Committee held the government partially responsible for the attacks.

“President [Evo] Morales’ hostility towards Israel has encouraged regular attacks against the country’s Jewish population in the media and violent attacks on Jewish institutions,” said Dina Siegel Vann, AJC director of Latino and Latin American affairs. “This is a very dangerous trend that only the government can and should vigorously turn back and end.”

In July, Morales declared Israel a “terrorist state” because of its offensive in the Gaza Strip, and required Israeli citizens to obtain a visa to visit the Andean nation.

Morales broke off diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in 2009, calling Israel’s treatment of Palestinians “a genocide.”

JTA contributed to this report. 

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