Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume XXV: The Price of Power in Guatemala

I do a lot of work on contemporary anti-discrimination, especially anti-Semitism. I also research in energy law (right now much of my time is spent preparing for the Energy Law class I'll be teaching this summer). So imagine how excited I was when I saw those two great tastes combine together in Guatemala:

Demonstrators in Guatemala used anti-Semitic language to protest the Central American country’s major power company, which is owned by an Israeli group. 
Energuate, a private power supplier owned by Israeli company IC Power, was targeted by protests last week that included congressmen, businessmen and members of the military, the Estado de Israel news portal reported. 
“Jews have killed me on the cross. Now Jews from Energuate are killing my people in Guatemala with the light,” read the Spanish-language banners and posters at the protests. “Out with Jewish Energuate from Guatemala. Let’s unite for the nationalization of power electricity.” 
The anti-Semitic material also included an image of a crucified Jesus and a New Testament passage about hypocritical “teachers of the law and Pharisees” neglecting justice, mercy and faithfulness.
Yet you might be surprised to know that I was initially hesitant about whether to add this as an entry to my series. Was it because it wasn't high-profile enough? No -- it was a big enough deal to elicit comment from Guatemala's vice president. Was it because it wasn't really "blaming the Jews"? Seems like it obviously was -- though no doubt someone is ready to explain how "Jews have killed me on the cross" is really just an indictment of Israeli state policies.

No, the reason for my hesitance is that I already did an energy speculation entry in this series, and I do try to vary my pitches. Ultimately, I decided that this was different enough from my early contribution (which was mostly about energy extraction, rather than electricity prices), so that it could sustain itself. But it is so nice to see that the former was not a one-off.


Unknown said...

Hi, I have an NGO in Guatemala and I'm there half the year. I have been looking for independent confirmation that this took place and cannot find anything outside the Jewish Press and I can't find a photo with people in it - just the anti-semitism. Can you help with this? Lev Tahor had the whole world believing they were victims of a pogrom when i was there and it was NOT TRUE.
The indigenous people have suffered horrible crimes against humanity and genocide and they have so very little. For instance, they are illiterate so they are not making these signs. Let's get to the truth of this. Thanks, Adrienne (very Jewish)

David Schraub said...


I don't have any independent sources in Guatemala beyond the press that makes it here stateside. The JTA article did link to at least one outside source which appeared to confirm (and defend) the use of anti-Semitic slogans (though my Spanish is wretched enough that it's entirely possible I misread).

None of this, of course, has anything to do with Lev Tahor. And it's entirely possible that persons outside the indigenous community were making the signs (in which case, the anti-Semitism is primarily on their heads). But the JTA article had several different sources it used for verification, and is generally a reliable news agency.