Latin American legislators pledge to support Israel, fight antisemitism

Pro-Israel legislators from across Latin America gathered in Miami, Fla., on Jan. 30, 2023, to show solidarity with the Jewish state. Credit: Courtesy.

by Etgar Lefkovits

(JNS) — A group of pro-Israel legislators from across Latin America on Jan. 29 urged countries in the region to the adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism and promote faith-based support for Israel in their countries.

The meeting took on added significance as it came immediately after a pair of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, one of which coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The lawmakers from 10 countries, including Guatemala, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and the Dominican Republic, chair their countries’ respective parliamentary Israel Allies Caucuses, a network of over 50 such alliances across the world under the aegis of the Israel Allies Foundation.

“Jews and Christians working together to promote support for Israel and Judeo-Christian values can make a real impact across the globe,” said Guatemalan Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro. “Our presence is a representation of solidarity, support and peace for the State of Israel,” he told JNS.

Guatemala was the second country in the world to move their embassy to Jerusalem after the United States inaugurated its embassy in the capital under President Donald Trump in 2018. It also has historic roots of friendship with Israel dating back to the historic United Nations vote for Israel’s independence in 1948, when it became the first country in Latin America to recognize the new Jewish state.

“We love being the first, and we look forward to expanding our ties with the new government in Israel,” said Bucaro.

Guatemalan Congressman Fidel Reyes Lee, who was a key player in the embassy move, said, “In every conference in Latin America about the region, we speak about legislation and education about Israel and the human knowledge Israel brings us with hi-tech and innovation.”

Deputy Dorina Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic, which just became the 51st country to join the parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus network, said, “We are proud to support Israel with the formation of a group of lawmakers who love Israel, especially at this important moment with the excellent relations between both countries.”

At the conclusion of the event, the legislators drafted and signed a resolution which calls for the study, adoption and implementation throughout Latin America of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. The definition has been signed by 39 countries and over 1,100 entities around the globe since it was formulated in 2016.

“With Israel under attack and antisemitic hatred flourishing on an unprecedented level globally, it is time for friends of the Jewish people and state both across Latin America and worldwide to stand up and take meaningful action,” said Combat Antisemitism Movement CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa, whose organization co-hosted the gathering. “One of the most effective ways for lawmakers to have an impact in the collective efforts against Jew-hatred is to promote the adoption and implementation of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism,” he said.

“The weekend terror attacks in Jerusalem coinciding with International Holocaust Remembrance Day highlight the importance of working with legislatures on these issues,” said Shay Salamon, director for Hispanic Outreach for the organization.

“I was planning to prepare a speech for this event, but we got the answer [to the question of] what antisemitism and its connection with terrorism is over Shabbat in Jerusalem,” said Mike Driquez, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Consulate in Miami.

Driquez, who immigrated to Israel from France, said he experienced antisemitism first-hand from the day he was born.

“This is one of the reasons we have to safeguard the only Jewish State and to strengthen our connections with both Jewish and non-Jewish communities the world over,” he told JNS.

“The success of diplomatic tools like the IHRA working definition of antisemitism can only be as effective as its implementation,” said Leopoldo Martinez, Israel Allies Foundation Latin America Director. “We know we can count on the parliaments in our network to creatively and powerfully implement this tool among others to combat antisemitism and its new manifestation, anti-Zionism.”

Mobilizing support for Israel worldwide through faith-based diplomacy, the Israel Allies Foundation, which was founded a decade and a half ago, has emerged as a powerhouse with its network of pro-Israel caucuses around the world based on shared Judeo-Christian values. Its success, coming at a time of heightened global antisemitism, is testament to the concomitant burgeoning relations between Israel and the largely supportive evangelical Christian community across the globe.