Ahead of Iranian official’s visit, Wiesenthal Center protests to Chile’s president

(JTA) – The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the president of Chile to cancel a planned visit by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, scheduled for late this week.

The centre, in a letter to President Michelle Bachelet, urges him to “take appropriate action to restore Chile’s values of coexistence and integration and to protest a state visit from a country that funds terrorist organizations, and whose officials are implicated by INTERPOL in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 that left 85 dead and over 300 wounded.”

Shimon Samuels, the centre’s director for International Relations, and Ariel Gelblung, its representative for Latin America, said that “adding fuel to the fire is the upcoming visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister to Chile, billed by the semi-official Persian news agency Fars as aiming to ‘oil the Iranophobic plots promoted by Israel in the region.’”

Zarif on Sunday began a visit to six Latin American countries. After leaving Cuba on Tuesday, he was scheduled to travel to Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela.

He is expected to arrive in Chile on Thursday.

The Wiesenthal Center also highlighted growing hostility in Chile against Israel and, by association, against Jews across Latin America, referencing the recent publication of a viciously anti-Semitic cartoon on the official Twitter account of the Palestinian Federation of Chile, which it said is reminiscent of the 1930’s Nazi German tabloid Der Sturmer and of Chilean Nazi sympathizers of that period.

“It is especially outrageous that the official website of the Chile Palestinian Federation serves as a tribune for Nazi hate,” Samuels and Gelblung wrote in the same letter, urging the president to suspend the Federation´s activities pending an investigation into its incitement to anti-Jewish violence.

The Palestinian community in Chile is believed to be the largest outside of the Middle East. At least 300,000 Chileans are of Palestinian descent, according to reports. Some 15,000 Jews live in Chile.

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