Chile’s new president is bitter Israel critic, whose win has many local Jews worried

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Chilean President-elect Gabriel Boric waves to supporters as he arrives to La Moneda presidential palace for a meeting with President Sebastian Pinera in Santiago, Chile, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Assessment: Gabriel Boric has publicly called for Chilean Jewish community to condemn Israeli policy; Jews fear he will also promote a Palestinian supporter accused of antisemitism …

Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old left-wing lawmaker who has been sharply critical of Israel and Chilean Jews who support it, was elected president of Chile in a landslide victory this weekend.

Boric, who came to fame as a student leader, won with 56 percent of the vote, 12 points over his conservative rival, José Antonio Kast, a right-wing, pro-Israel politician.

” …And I will curse him who curses you …” Genesis 12;3 

The election left many Chilean Jews feeling uneasy because they had to choose between Boric, who has encouraged Chilean Jews to lobby for Israeli territorial concessions, and Kast, whose father likely was a Nazi and who has defended the legacy of Augusto Pinochet, the head of Chile’s military dictatorship that killed thousands of dissidents in the 1970s.

Most Jews seemed to be siding with Kast, telling the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last month that their community was experiencing “a feeling of siege.” Of the 111 Chileans living in Israel who voted from abroad, 73 cast their ballots for Kast, compared to just 33 for Boric, according to Chile’s national elections database.

In his victory speech, Boric promised to “firmly fight against the privileges of a few” as he seeks to advance his vision for Chile’s future.

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