In a letter to Chilean Ambassador Arturo Fernandois, B’nai B’rith International expressed “our grave concern over the outburst of anti-Semitic activity that has occurred in Chile after the arrest of a 23-year-old Israeli backpacker, who is suspected of having accidentally ignited the fire of the Torres del Paine National Park.”
B’nai B’rith President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin also wrote: “Undoubtedly, the fire is a national tragedy, and we share the Chileans’ sorrow for this very unfortunate incident. But blaming the State of Israel or the Jewish people as a whole for the ‘alleged’ actions of a tourist is absolutely unacceptable and irrational.”
In the wake of the fire in Chile’s Patagonia region, the outburst of anti-Semitic attacks and charges included outrageous claims made by Chilean politicians. Incredibly, the vice president of the Christian Democratic party wrote on his Twitter account: “I bet that the Israeli ‘tourist’ that burned Torres del Paine is one of those sent by his State after killing Palestinian children.”
Taunts of “filthy Jew” were reportedly yelled as the suspect was escorted to court.
B’nai B’rith sends its condolences to the families of the seven firefighters who have died battling the blaze. According to a report in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the fires began simultaneously at 50 different locations.
Israel, in keeping with its commitment as a first responder to global catastrophes, offered to send a team of experts in reforestation to help rebuild the area.
In the letter to the ambassador, B’nai B’rith calls on the democratic government of Chile to clearly denounce these malicious and shameful anti-Semitic and anti-Israel accusations.
See where B'nai B'rith International stands on the issues.