Latin American Jewish leaders are meeting with Minister of Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein Tuesday night in the wake of growing Iranian influence and anti-Semitism in the region. Discussions will continue on Wednesday and Thursday with Latin American Jews from 17 countries and Israeli officials to formulate an agenda against efforts to delegitimize Israel, anti-Semitism and Iranian power.
"Iran is strengthening its diplomatic and economic presence in Latin America, while exporting the Islamic Revolution and disseminating radical Shi'ite Islam among its residents,” Minister Edelstein said before the opening of the conference. “We are concerned that this Iranian presence, which is both strategic and tactical, will create an unprecedented situation in these countries.”
He noted the sharp increase in recent years of anti-Semitism in several Latin American countries, through verbal and physical assaults and vandalism, which he said “are perpetrated under the excuse of being directed against the State of Israel."
The Foreign Ministry has expressed worry over the large number of Iranian embassy officials in Latin American who are involved in terror. Iran and Hizbullah have been held responsible for two attacks in the early 1990s on the Israeli embassy and on the Buenos Aires Jewish community building, killing more than 100 people. The terrorist mastermind was identified as Imad Mughinyeh, who was assassinated two years ago in Damascus.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have established close relations, including direct flights between Caracas and Tehran via Damascus.
Nicaragua may next on the list of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deepen his foothold in the region, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Chávez and Bolivia's Evo Morales are unified. Nicaragua receives oil from Iran at a healthy discount, with 75 percent of the purchase price paid through a long-term loan. The deal enables Ortega to sell the oil at market value and pocket the profits, allowing him to buy popular support while taking apart democratic institutions in the country, such as the country's law against re-election.
Iran’s influence has fueled anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism throughout the region, giving Ahmadinejad a trans-Atlantic axis in the United Nations.