RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — The Palestinian Federation of Chile threatened the country’s Jewish umbrella organization over its support of Israel’s decision to bar a Chilean boycott activist from entering the Jewish state.
“We warn the Jewish leadership not to play with fire,” read a statement issued Monday in Spanish by the Palestinian federation regarding its executive director, Anuar Majluf, prominent anti-Israel activist who was refused entry by the Israeli government on April 10.
“Such claims are absolutely false. Majluf has only exercised his right to legitimate political criticism of Israel and BDS, which he supports, is an essentially peaceful movement, framed in political activity,” added the statement, referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Chile’s Jewish community released a statement last week defending Israel’s ban on Majluf after the Chilean Foreign Ministry condemned the move.
“Any sovereign state, and Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East, has every right to admit or not a person who is fomenting the destruction of the state through boycott, divestment and sanctions such as what this gentlemen has been able to do,” Shai Agosin, president of the Chilean Jewish Community, declared in an interview with the Bio Bio radio station.
Eugenio Tuma, a Chilean senator of Arab descent, slammed Israel’s decision to bar the Palestinian official, which said he considers “unacceptable” and a “violation” of the rights of Chilean citizens. Two congressmen echoed his statement.
“Nothing from this Mr. Tuma sounds strange to me,” Agosin said. “From the beginning he has been posing the falsehood that this is against Chilean citizens. Hundreds, if not thousands, have entered Israel and there has never been a problem.
“He recently asked for a meeting with the governor of the Quillota region to request that a thermoelectric plant that is being developed should not be made because it was an Israeli investment,” added the Jewish official.
The Knesset passed a law that enables the Interior Ministry to refuse entry and residency visas to non-Israelis if they have “issued a public call” to boycott Israel – including settlements in the West Bank – or have stated their intention to participate in a boycott.
In February, a senior official of an entity tied to the Chilean government threatened to expel Israeli tourists from hostels in the country after a group was removed from a national park.
One month before, a young Jewish and gay activist wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the flag of Israel was attacked at a Santiago park and suffered several razor cuts perpetrated by three men who carried neo-Nazi symbols.
Chile is home to some 15,000 Jews. The country is also believed to host the largest Palestinian community outside of the Arab world, with more than 300,000 members.