Pro-Palestinian organizations in Chile protested Monday a concert by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra outside of the municipal theater of Las Condes, Santiago de Chile.
The protest was part of Latin America's Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Orchestra's South American tour, and Israel's "whitewashing of its military occupation."
Protesters carried Palestinian flags, wore Palestinian kufiyyas or scarfs, and danced dabke, the traditional Palestinian dance, outside the theater with a large banner that reads “Don’t disguise Israel’s crimes as art.” Activists also highlighted Israeli complicity in Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1974-1990), specifically the role of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, with Pinochet’s civilian police.
“They criticize us for mixing politics and art, but it is not us who did it. We can do nothing other than to reject Israel’s whitewashing,” an activist said.
BDS Chile organized the protest after the municipality failed to heed calls to cancel the presentation. The country’s Palestinian Federation also joined the calls to cancel the orchestra’s presentation. “Its director has said they are the orchestra of Israel’s capital, justifying the occupation and naturalizing apartheid,” the federation tweeted last week.
In an open letter sent to Joaquin Lavin, mayor of Las Condes, on Aug. 22 pro-Palestinian organizations argued “the visit of the ‘Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’ is not a coincidence, nor is it peaceful. It happens weeks after the approval of the Nationality Bill in Israel and in the same year when the world condemns (United States President) Donald Trump’s arbitrary decision that seeks to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
The letter signed by over 20 pro-Palestinian organizations, including workers union and human rights groups, sought to get Laving to cancel the performance in solidarity with the Palestinian people “who live under an apartheid regime and the longest illegal military occupation in modern times.”
The Palestinian Federation also got the support of the Latin American branch of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) after they were accused by representatives of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center of anti-semitism for an image showing the orchestra’s director, Argentine Yeruham Scharovsky, stained with blood.
“It is obvious the blood stains on the director of the Israeli orchestra denounce the complicity of the orchestra with the massacres perpetrated by the state of Israel against Palestinians in its colonial process of ethnic cleansing,” the IJAN statement argued.
Blood libels, accusing Jewish people in Europe of kidnapping and murdering Christian children for religious rituals, were a key tool for the persecution of Jews in Europe.
Other protests against the state-sponsored orchestra have been held in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the city of Tucuman in Argentina.