During the recent “Operation Protecting Edge”, held by Israel in response to attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians, most Latin American countries took a prejudiced and intentionally political attitude against the State of Israel.
Indeed, before any hard evidence was registered with regard to the circumstances under which this war is being fought, several Latin American countries reached conclusions. Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Ecuador and Peru temporarily withdrew their ambassadors from Tel Aviv in protest at what they considered “a disproportionate Israeli action that caused deaths of innocent Palestinians”.
Mercosur, the main South American trade bloc, called on the United Nations to probe Israeli war crimes, echoing the discourse of the infamous United Nations Human Rights Council.
Marco Aurelio Garcia, ideologue and architect of Brazil’s foreign policy, described Israel’s actions as “genocide.”
No word was said about Hamas’ aggression.
What’s more, the Brazilian government cited the death toll based on Palestinian sources that often lack sufficient credibility. Although figures are not yet clear, Israel has stated that at least half of the fallen were Palestinian Hamas terrorists or members of the Islamic Jihad.
Chile followed in the footsteps of Brazil on behalf of their interpretation of international law, ignoring that Israel’s war against Hamas is completely legitimate and legal. Also, overlooked by both Brazil and Chile was the fact that Hamas attacked Israel, threatened to kill its’ people, violated multiple ceasefires, and cynically used their own citizens as human shields. The use of their own people to be used as human shields was part of their strategy as was discovered in their written manuals.
This is not to mention that, in addition, Hamas has effectively obstructed the peace process in Oslo, intimidated and weakend the Palestinian Authority and demanded the elimination of the State of Israel and the Jewish majority that inhabits it.
The Uruguayan government, without removing its ambassador described the Israeli action as “genocide.” Furthermore, the Uruguayan foreign minister Luis Almagro criticized the Jewish community for its support of Israel, declaring that Jews should be the first to condemn Israel because of their own experience with genocide.
According to a leader in the Uruguayan Jewish community, the foreign minister later admitted that this Uruguayan declaration was issued under pressure from Brazil and Venezuela.
In Argentina, Kirchner deputies rushed to condemn the killing of innocent civilians in Gaza without condemning Hamas. The official or semiofficial media interviewed Israeli citizens and tried to encourage them to make negative generalizations and unfounded accusations against Israeli civil society and its institutions, confirming that the Israelis are the villains of this film.
Of course, it is important to point out that the government in Venezuela, whose official and semi-official bodies have been openly anti-Semitic, urged the Jewish community to speak out against Israel, which led to the Wiesenthal Center appealing to the Organization of American States (OAS) to defend the rights of Jewish citizens. All of this reflects the illiberal character that Venezuela and other countries exercise over their own citizens. it also confirms the poor human rights record of Venezuela that the U.S. is still so hesitant to recognize despite the hard evidence on the ground.
Then, there is Bolivia, a country dominated by a totalitarian ideology orchestrated from above. Bolivia defined Israel as a terrorist state and changed visa procedures for Israelis willing to visit the country.
Finally, Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua and ruthless violator of human rights, declared that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is possessed by the devil and urged Pope Francis “to remove the demons from the Prime Minister’s head.”
Furthermore, at the upcoming meeting of the Union of South American Nations — UNASUR — which will take place on August 21 and 22, a wide condemnation of Israel is expected. The language used is not clear as yet, but it is clear that the focus will be on Israel’s military response and death of civilians. No condemnation of Hamas should be expected and there is no chance that any of these countries would recognize that Hamas is a terrorist organization.
Curiously enough, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has invested much time and money in lobbying the left-wing governments in Latin America. In fact, as cease-fire negotiations move along, the Palestinian Authority presented its strategic plan. Among the seven clauses of the Palestinian strategy six of them deal with the future of Gaza in pragmatic terms. One clause among the six reads “The PA Foreign Ministry signs bilateral agreements and conducts diplomatic trips to Latin America."
There are no details on this clause.
What is interesting is that current negotiations with Israel empower the Palestinian Authority to exercise more control on Gaza and at the same time it slowly eases up restrictions on Gaza as all the Palestinians factions promise to stop attacking Israel and build tunnels.
In fact, relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the ground improve.
Why would Latin American countries move to join condemnations of Israel at a time when not even one Arab country was willing to do so?
The reason is that it provides them with another ideological tool to ingratiate themselves with third world countries and confront the United States face to face and send the message that the U.S. is no longer the boss in the region.
The fact that Brazil joins hands with Venezuela is not new since I already stated it multiple times that Brazil has been and is the most valuable political ally of Venezuela.
But the fact that Brazil and Venezuela continue to join hands on international politics is not coincidental and ultimately may have deeper consequences for the geopolitics of the region and for human rights.
The region, under the leadership of Brazil, has searched for South-South cooperation, not only for economic reasons. Latin America seeks a second independence, this time from the United States. Brazil often has great influence over the political thinking and foreign policies of other Latin American counties as it practices an ideological and autonomous foreign policy. So solidarity with the third world is encouraged and making common cause with other regions in the Arab world and Africa, which are also considered victims of colonialism and exploitation by the developed world makes sense.
This has already led Brazil and much of the rest of the Latin American countries to support the “Brasilia Declaration” of May 2005, calling for eliminating American sanctions on Syria; commended and defended Sudan at a time it was committing acts of genocide in Darfur; and, adopted an apologetic attitude towards terrorism by calling to investigate the causes of terrorism.
Likewise, Brazil never condemned the genocide in Syria or the persecutions of Christians in Iraq.
In other words, Brazil is not concerned about genocides or human rights, as has been demonstrated time and time again.
This is why the emergence of Brazil at the international level will be harmful because it has not demonstrated a moral criterion for judging right.
Brazil, which aspires to a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations is trying to get the sympathy of those members of the United Nations to form a majority consistently hostile towards Israel. In this case, Brazil would be no different from China and Russia, two apologists of rogue states and terrorist groups.
It is crucial to stand up to Brazil’s international ambition.
Brazil’s place in the Security Council must be denied and its regional influence must be stopped and counterbalanced until Brazil’s government is able to demonstrate good moral criteria, concern for human rights, and distances itself from the distorted world view of the non-aligned countries.
Luis Fleischman has worked as adviser for the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy on issues related to Latin America. He is the author of "Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Threat to U.S. Security." Fleischman is an adjunct professor of sociology and political science at Florida Atlantic University Honors College and FAU Lifelong Learning Society.
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