OAS creates envoy position to monitor and combat anti-Semitism in Latin America

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Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, has created a commissioner within the multilateral organization focused on combating anti-Semitism across Latin America.

The special envoy will tackle anti-Semitism in the region by promoting the working definition of anti-Semitism established by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental organization focused on Holocaust-related issues.

The new Commissioner for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism will “vigorously engage states and civil society organizations to raise awareness of the need to remain alert to all forms of anti-Semitism,” said Almagro, according to an American Jewish Committee news release. He made the announcement Tuesday at an AJC virtual forum.

Almagro’s decision follows on the establishment in recent years of similar posts in Europe, Canada and the United States, according to the AJC.

Acts of anti-Semitism have been on the increase across the region, particularly after the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. There are also two unsolved anti-Semitic terrorist attacks in the region: the 1994 bombing of AMIA, the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, in Buenos Aires, and the 1992 attack on Argentina’s Israeli Embassy, facts to which Almagro alluded in his remarks.

“All are clear examples of threats not just against Jewish communities, but against the society to which they belong,” he said.

Major American Jewish institutions commended the OAS decision on social media, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and B’nai B’rith International.

Quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, IHRA secretary general, Kathrin Meyer, noted that “international political coordination is imperative to counter the worrying rise in anti-Semitism, particularly in light of the anti-Semitic violence and hate speech that has taken place in response to the recent escalation of violence in the Middle East.”

The news was also welcomed in Latin America.

“It is an essential initiative at a time when hate speech and discriminatory attacks are growing across the continent,”Commissioner for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism the DAIA, the umbrella organization of Argentina’s Jewish community, wrote on Twitter.

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Chile’s Jewish community said on Twitter that the news deals with the “worrying escalation of anti-Semitism that is perceived today worldwide. [It is] a piece of news that we would not like to declare as ‘good,’ ever, but which, given the context, is necessary.”

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