Anti-Semitism on the Rise in Peru
(December 20, 2005)
by David Krusch
According to the rabbi of the largest synagogue in Lima, Peru, anti-Semitic attacks and the number of neo-Nazi groups are increasing and threatening the country's nearly 3,000 Jews. Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein, cheif rabbi of Asociacion Judia 1870, has been observing the rise of anti-Semitism in Peru, which he believes is a product of the country's social and political divisions that have caused a high degree of instability. This rise in anti-Semitism is compounded by the rise of a new nationalist movement that has aimed attacks at Chileans because of past tensions between Chile, Peru, and the Jewish community. Led by two Peruvian militants, the “openly xenophobic” Humala brothers, this new nationalist movement is worrysome to many in the Jewish community.
Bronstein attributes the increase in Peruvian anti-Semitism to two main causes. Many Jews in the community are viewed as having close ties with the government and President Alejandro Toledo, and having too much influence over government decisions. The vice president, David Waisman, is a member of Asociacion Judia 1870, is very publicly popular and respected, but perceived Jewish government influence has paved the way for some anti-Semitic incidents.
Another cause is the rise in neo-Nazi groups throughout the country, who Bronstein describes as “a tiny minority but very noisy.” The community is closely watching the activities of these groups.
Recently, anonymous anti-Semitic threats have been made against Salomon Lerner, a law professor and practicing Catholic. Lerner's father was Jewish and his brother is a practicing Jew who belongs to Asociacion Judia 1870. Lerner is the judge in charge of a commission appointed to investigate a guerrilla movement in the late 1980s that was believed to be responsible for the deaths of 80,000 people during civil war. Lerner's committee discovered that the guerrilla movement, Shining Path, was responsible for 53% of these deaths, while the military committed the remaining 47% of the killings. According to the report of the investigation, most of the victims were innocent people. Rabbi Bronstein believes that the anti-Semitic threats have come from ex-military men who are accused in the investigation of using excessive force during the civil war.
To read more about the history of Peru's Jewish community, go here.
Source: Joe Goldman, “On rise in Peru, anti-Semitic attacks threaten stability of Jewish community,” JTA, (December 5, 2005).