Argentina’s Jewish community is the largest in Latin America and the seventh largest in the world after the United States, Israel, France, Canada, Britain and Russia. According to the newspaper La Nacion, there are currently about 310 thousand people in the country who identify themselves as Jews. Moreover, natives of Russia habitually call themselves Russians, while ethnic Russians — Slavs.
On November 1, Argentina condemned Israel’s attack on the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, saying that «the humanitarian situation in Gaza is becoming increasingly alarming».
«Argentina has openly condemned the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas on October 7 and recognizes Israel’s right to its legitimate defense. However, nothing justifies the violation of international humanitarian law and the obligation to protect civilians in armed conflicts», the Argentine Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Argentina’s statement came hours after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on Israel to stop bombing Gaza.
«What we are seeing now is the madness of the Israeli prime minister who wants to erase the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth. This is the first time we are seeing a war in which most of the dead are children», Lula wrote on social network X (former Twitter). «Stop! For God’s sake, stop!» the Brazilian president urged.
The Bolivian government broke diplomatic relations with Israel, accusing Tel Aviv of committing «crimes against humanity» in Gaza, while Chile and Colombia recalled their ambassadors to Israel for consultations in a significant measure, but less drastic than severing diplomatic ties.
«Bolivia has decided to sever diplomatic relations with the state of Israel as a sign of rejection and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip», Bolivian Deputy Foreign Minister Freddy Mamani told a news conference.
«We cannot remain silent and continue to allow the suffering of the Palestinian people, especially children, who have the right to live in peace. We condemn the war crimes being committed in Gaza», Bolivian President Luis Arce wrote on social media.
Breaking diplomatic relations with Israel means that «the Bolivian government is joining the Hamas terrorist organization», the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in response. Let me remind you that the Bolivian government already severed diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009 because of the hostilities in the Gaza Strip. They were restored in 2020.
Santiago decided to recall its ambassador «in the face of unacceptable violations of international humanitarian law committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip», the Chilean Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The foreign ministry called for «an immediate cessation of military actions that constitute collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza».
“Peru condemns and will continue to condemn violence wherever it comes from,” the South American country’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Mexican diplomat Alicia Buenrostro, speaking at an emergency U.N. special session on Gaza, called on «occupying power» Israel to end its claim to Palestinian territories and advocated for a two-state solution.
«This is called genocide; they are doing this to expel the Palestinian people from Gaza and take it over», Colombian President Gustavo Petro wrote on his X page, formerly Twitter. — «The head of state who commits this genocide is a criminal against humanity». Announcing the withdrawal of his country’s ambassador from Israel, Petro added: «If Israel does not stop the massacres of the Palestinian people, we cannot stay there».
The diplomatic moves by South American countries have not been made in a political vacuum. 120 countries voted at the UN General Assembly in favor of an «immediate, long-term humanitarian truce» between Israeli forces and Hamas militants in Gaza. 45 countries abstained and 14 nations, led by the US, opposed the resolution, which condemns the unjustified killing of more than 3,500 children, according to the UN.
South America called for a cease-fire, humanitarian aid to Gaza and accused Israel of violating international law. «The humanitarian situation in Gaza is becoming more alarming by the day», Argentina’s foreign ministry said, calling on Israel to allow the delivery of aid to the occupied territory. Argentina, Peru and Mexico said their fellow citizens had been killed and kidnapped in the conflict. The three countries called for the release of hostages taken by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to the Latin Americans’ demands. «Israel condemns Bolivia’s support for terrorism and its subordination to the Iranian regime, which demonstrates the values represented by the Bolivian government», the Foreign Ministry said.
«Israel expects Colombia and Chile to support the right of a democratic country to protect its citizens and call for the immediate release of all those kidnapped, rather than join Venezuela and Iran in supporting Hamas terrorism», Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.
According to political scientist Oliver Stuenkel, professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation of the University of São Paulo, Israel is losing «the war of narratives throughout Latin America, just as it is losing the battle in the global South». The statements by Latin American leaders have caused diplomatic tensions with Israel and have already led to a reassessment of bilateral relations.
Brazil had hoped the UN Security Council would pass a resolution calling for a «humanitarian pause» in the fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants. Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira criticized Israel’s failure to pass the resolution and condemned what he called «the Council’s constant use of personal interests instead of prioritizing the protection of civil rights».
Former Mexican Foreign Minister ( 2000 to 2003) Jorge Castaneda believes that for ideological, geopolitical and even ethnic or religious reasons, «acts of extreme violence and brutality have not created strong sympathy for Israel» in the region, and a possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip would generate even greater rejection in several Latin American countries. To some extent, this «will stem from the notorious anti-Americanism of significant parts of Latin American societies». And much of the regional skepticism toward the Israeli government and tolerance of Hamas will stem from the «arrogance and cynicism» of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government — he «has sought to perpetuate an unacceptable and unsustainable status quo».