Anti-Semitic painting in Chile
Anti-Semitic painting in Chile Israel news photo: HaShomer HaTzair

A regional conference on anti-Semitism scheduled to take place in Buenos Aires this weekend has already upset local Muslim groups. Argentina’s Islamic Center has accused organizers of planning to promote “Islamophobia.”

“This seminar is trying to install the idea of Islamophobia in Argentina by utilizing concepts like Islamic anti-Semitism and Judeophobia. Such concepts clearly advocate fear, hatred and persecution of the Muslim peoples and sadly encourage discriminatory actions against them,” said an Islamic Center press release.

The center has threatened to file suit in order to shut the conference down.

Organizer Yaakov Haguel spoke to Arutz Sheva about the planned event. The main goal is to give local communities the power to be “strong and proud,” he said.

Jewish community leaders are looking forward to the conference as a way to trade ideas on dealing with the shared issue of anti-Jewish sentiment in their countries. Haguel noted that 250 Jewish leaders from 12 South American countries are expected to attend.

Guests at the conference will include World Zionist Organization chairman Avraham Duvdevani and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.

Jews living in South America face both “classic” anti-Semitism and more modern versions, Haguel said. The “classic” racism includes physical attacks, while more “modern” anti-Semitism includes anti-Jewish statements and threats made in online social networks.

A recent survey in Argentina showed disturbingly high levels of anti-Semitism among the general population, he said. Among other things, 82% of those surveyed said that Jews’ primary concern was “business and money,” 68% said Jews have too much control over financial matters, and 49% said Jews are overly concerned with the Holocaust.

Another recent case of anti-Semitism involved Argentine professor Saad Hadid, who told a Venezuelan host on state television that Zionist leader Theodor Herzl was “sick and paranoid,” that Jewish leaders had worked with Nazi Germany, and that “there’s no Jewish Holocaust.” Local Jewish groups expressed concern over Hadid’s remarks, and accused the Venezuelan government of sponsoring anti-Semitism.