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'How 90 Peruvians Became the Latest Jewish Settlers': Part Two of the Debate

StoryAugust 30, 2002
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Yesterday on Democracy Now! we heard a story about ’how 90 Peruvians became the latest Jewish settlers."

Israeli journalist Neri Livneh wrote in an article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, that the Ashkenazi chief rabbi Israel Meir Lau ordered a delegation of rabbis to traveled to Peru.

The rabbis converted around 90 people to Judaism, most of them of Indian origin. They converted only those who said they were willing to emigrate to Israel immediately.

Upon arrival in Israel, the 90 new immigrants were taken straight from the airport to settlements in the West Bank.

Nachshon Ben-Haim, formerly Pedro Mendosa, says he is not bothered by the fact that by being sent to a settlement, he has also been effectively recruited to a particular political group. He told the Ha’aretz: "We knew we were coming to a place that is called 'territories' because people we know immigrated earlier and are living in the settlements in the territories. But I have no problem with that because I do not consider the territories to be occupied territories. You cannot conquer what has in any case belonged to you since the time of the patriarch, Abraham."

Ben-Haim says that after he finishes the Hebrew course, he may join the army, "because I wasn’t in the army in Peru and that is something I lack, and also because I want to defend the country and if there is no choice, I will kill Arabs. But I am sure that Jews kill Arabs only for self-defense and justice, but Arabs do it because they like to kill."

He bases this belief on his scientific view of Judaism: "The Arab has the instinct of murder and killing like all gentiles, and only Jews do not have that instinct–that is a genetic fact."

We began a discussion about this story yesterday with Bryan Schwartz, who is President of an organization called Scattered Among the Nations. Schwartz raised the funds that made it possible for the Peruvians to go to Israel.

Guests:

  • Bryan Schwartz, President, Scattered Among The Nations. Schwartz is responsible for raising the funds that made it possible for a group of Peruvians to become the latest settlers in Israel.
  • Michael Tarazi, legal advisor to the PLO, the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
  • Jessica Montel, executive director of B’Tselem, The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

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