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In an El País op-ed, B’nai B’rith Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn denounces the ongoing and growing anti-Semitism in Uruguay, including a serious provocation on March 8, which the Uruguayan Jewish community is deeply concerned about.

Read in El País in Spanish. Read below in English.

The Friday, March 15 El País editorial is clear and forceful. It details an overwhelmingly extensive list of anti-Semitic events that have occurred in Uruguay for five months. And the title is even clearer when it points out that something very serious is happening.

Yes. Something very serious is happening, and it has been for a long time. It has increased since Hamas terrorists entered Israel by air, sea and land on October 7 of last year and murdered more than 1,200 civilians and left more than five thousand injured, while launching missiles against Israeli territory every day, 24 hours a day for more than five months. But they not only murdered – they took 239 people hostage and kidnapped them. In the massacre, the terrorists cut their throats, dismembered them, burned the victims, raped women and adolescents in front of their families, and then dismembered their bodies. And they filmed it and proudly showed it online. But after 72 hours, for the anti-Semites, the victims of barbarism became victimizers in the eyes of Latin American dictators, the Islamic fundamentalist dictators and their allies in the United Nations Security Council. And since the Secretary General of the United Nations said that what happened on October 7 had been in “a context,” the anti-Semites felt that a green light had been turned on, and we Jews began to suffer hatred, threats and harassment. Violence on all continents.

Uruguay was not left out. The flood of posts from social groups in various areas, press libels in extremist media, and political statements that were not even able to mention the name Hamas as clearly stated in the aforementioned El País editorial gave way to attacks, swastikas graffitied, hateful remarks like a journalist thinking that a film won the Oscar “because of the influence of Jews in Hollywood” – and in her alleged apologies she reaffirmed her ignorant statements. Until we reach March 8th.

The demonstration of anti-Semitism made by a group that was part of the Women’s Day march and that is already, through complaints from state agencies and the Central Israelite Committee of Uruguay, in the hands of justice. But in that march, which should have been a celebration and tribute to the great struggle of women for their rights won and to be lauded, more crimes and more acts of anti-Semitism were committed.

A sign “From the river to the sea” was carried high at all times. Slogans of Hamas and its Islamic mentors that Israel must be destroyed from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and its inhabitants exterminated. If anyone doubts what the sign means, a young woman took a megaphone and meticulously repeated a paragraph from the founding charter of Hamas that explicitly states Hamas’ genocidal objective of exterminating an entire people, the Jews – and not just the Jews who are in Israel. And just in case there was any further doubt, another young woman took a flag of Israel (a state with which Uruguay has had relations for 75 years) in her hands and tore it into pieces while they filmed her, looked at her and applauded her.

This week, the crime of David Fremd, a Sanducero compatriot murdered in March 2016 by a teacher who said that he “had received a call from Allah to kill Jews,” was remembered at a commemorative event. And he took the life of David Fremd and could not take the life of one of his sons. That happened 8 years ago, a year and a half after the walls of the capital and the interior had been filled in June 2014 with graffiti such as “Jews die”, “Jews outside Uruguay”, “Jews are murderers.” Why? Because in June 2014, Israel had been twice attacked by Hamas with missiles and three kidnappings and Israel defended itself accordingly against terror and defended its citizens during 50 days of combat. Once again the victim became the perpetrator.

This obscene equation of turning reality upside down, which is not new, is exacerbated today. There are more than 100 kidnapped people in the hands of Hamas: civilians, from children to the elderly, tortured and women raped. There are civil and military confrontations, political and all kinds, which are not the reason for this comment for obvious reasons of space. But does this barbarism that Hamas unleashed necessarily have to bring the wave of anti-Semitism that is suffered today in Uruguay? Is it essential for many, for reasons that we do not even want to imagine, to remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism? Since when has part of politics and part of civil society normalized hatred of others in Uruguay? If this is how it is from now on, say it clearly by action and not by omission. And so we would all know that in Uruguay, we are in danger of having to fight again for freedom and the rights of all.