Shimon Samuels

Jewish Concerns at the Organization of American States

The OAS, a 34 member-state regional organization run principally by the Latin American and Caribbean nations, has just concluded its 45th Assembly in Washington. Cuba’s membership was suspended in 1972 and its seat remains empty as long as Havana refuses to sign the Human Rights provisions of the OAS Social Charter. The United States and Canada assume a low profile.

Our purpose in attending is to monitor and contain BDS, ALBA bloc (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua) antisemitic provocation and Iranian infiltration across the continent. The latter is linked to the Hezbollah terrorist sleeper cells in 9 member countries,which were to have been exposed to the Argentine Congress by AMIA Buenos Aires Jewish Centre bombing Prosecutor,Alberto Nisman, the day after his generally presumed assassination

Israel, as one of the 70 observer-states, was present. Its delegate spoke of the Latin American countries that received World War II
Jewish refugees and the role of the region in supporting the UN partition resolution of 1948. Also of Mashav rural development
training in the field across the Americas, and, in providing emergency aid, as in the Haiti and Mexico earthquakes.

On the terrorism front, although there are clear parallels between Latin America and Europe regarding recruitment for Jihad, the ideological and even linguistic reactions in Latin countries are quite different.

For most Latin and Caribbean states, “radical” is positive as it signifies the opposition to military dictatorship and to “Western” qua
“American” (“Yankee”) colonialism or hegemony

Thus analogies are drawn between the radical supporters of the Palestinian cause and Che Guevara, the Montoneros, Tupamaros and other insurgents (another positive term)

These are the voices of the anti-globalization World Social Forum based in Porto Alegre,Brazil and its European satellites, which annually coordinate the global BDS and flotilla campaigns  .

This lowest common denominator set by Venezuela. was followed by Argentine Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, who led a two hour
session on British crimes and the need for Latin solidarity for the liberation of the Malvinas/Falklands islands. Every other member
stepped up to support Argentina.

The British delegate told me how he now felt “the isolation of his Israeli peers.”

We raised with several delegates, Venezuelan/Iranian incitement to antisemitism, especially Telesur and Hispan satellite campaigns use of blood-libels such as charging the Israeli emergency medical team with the theft of Nepalese babies.

Caracas also serves as the “Return to Palestine Campaign” world headquarters. Its Chilean representative, reportedly, claimed there that “our international struggle is against a common enemy which lays siege to Venezuela robbing its wealth, just as it steals the wealth of the Middle East and the rest of the world.”

On a brighter note, we presented our project on Jewish World Heritage sites from the 1890 Argentine Jewish settlement of Moises Ville to the 1938 Jewish fugitives from Nazism cooperative of Sosua in the Dominican Republic

These Jewish contrbutions to their host countries serve as paradigms for other immigrant communities

I had visited Sosua several years ago and then drove some fifty kilometres to the village of Azua in the south of the island, to join an Israeli technical assistance team. There we helped the campesino peasants in building their tiny wooden church;

I have since considered those fifty kilometres as the decade long journey from 1938 utter Jewish defenselessness to 1948 sovereign rebirth

At the conclusion of the Assembly, I was approached by the Dominican Ambassador who, with a wink, told me of his Jewish family ties and his
pride in Sosua. As the 2016 OAS Assembly will be held in Santo Domingo, he proposed it include a group visit to Sosua.

About the Author
Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has served as Deputy Director of the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, European Director of ADL, and Israel Director of AJC. He was born in UK and studied in UK, Israel, U.S. and Japan.
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