Central American country’s change of leadership could destroy strong ties with the Jewish state.
By: Batya Jerenberg
Antisemitic statements are nothing new to the socialist leaders of the Honduran government who took power on January 27, throwing doubt on whether the warm ties with Israel established by the former administration will continue.
Incoming Vice-President Salvador Nasralla, who is of Palestinian extraction, claimed in a 2019 debate that Jews control the global money supply. In 2020, he said that then-President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s “boss is the government of Israel.”
Hernandez, a close friend of his country’s large Evangelical Christian community, was a firm supporter of the Jewish state. He relocated his country’s embassy to Jerusalem last June, making Honduras he fourth to do so following the American precedent set in 2018. In January 2020, his administration officially designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
The country also supported the Jewish state in the UN under Hernandez by voting against or abstaining from one-sided anti-Israel resolutions.
In another pro-Israel move, Honduras was one of 38 countries that boycotted the antisemitic Durban IV Conference in September.
The new Honduran president, Xiomara Castro, is also a possible question mark. She is the wife of Manuel Zelaya, who led Honduras from 2006 until mid-2009, when he was deposed in a military coup.
After fleeing temporarily to the Brazilian embassy in the capital, he claimed at one point that “Israeli mercenaries” were torturing him with high-frequency radiation — a far-fetched accusation was not taken seriously.
Zelaya had allied himself with fellow socialist and anti-Israeli president Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who was a close friend of Iran.
Kamala Harris slammed for supporting new leadership
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris was slammed by a few members of Congress for attending Castro’s and Nasralla’s inauguration, which fell out on the day set aside by the UN to commemorate the Holocaust.
“The new Honduran leadership have a bad record of saying anti-Semitic tropes,” Republican Don Bacon of Nebraska told the Daily Mail. “On this National [sic] Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Vice President should make clear to the new Honduran leaders that America finds anti-Semitism repugnant and that Israel is our close ally.”
Jewish groups have not voiced particular concern, according to a JTA report Monday. It quoted a Latin America expert of the American Jewish Committee, Dina Siegel Vann, who said that Nasralla’s “anti-Israel stances and comments have so far not impacted the current state of excellent bilateral ties” between Honduras and Israel.
“In addition, U.S .support is a critical piece for President Xiomara Castro’s government program to succeed, so she will bend backward to avoid a confrontation including on the issue of Israel,” Siegel Vann said in an email to JTA. Future votes in the UN, however, “will give us some idea if real changes are on the horizon,” she said.