Anti-Semitism has been injected into a public debate over a proposed monkey-breeding facility in Puerto Rico, with some opponents accusing “Jewish economic interests” of attempting to destroy the island’s environment, the Anti-Defamation League said last week.
ADL expressed solidarity with the Jewish community of Puerto Rico, which has faced boycott and protest threats since the false allegations first surfaced in local newspapers earlier last week.
“Regardless of whether one supports or opposes plans for the primate facility in Guayama, it is simply inexcusable to attempt to use the Jewish community in Puerto Rico as a scapegoat,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “We know these views do not represent those of the vast majority of Puerto Ricans. When an entire Jewish community is blamed for something that is not of their making nor of their control, that is anti-Semitism.”
On November 30, an activist opposed to the monkey-breeding facility was prominently quoted in a local newspaper suggesting that an “Israeli company” was developing the facility as part of a campaign of “ethnic discrimination” and “genocide” aimed at the island population.
The activist, Robert Brito, called on Puerto Ricans to boycott locally owned Jewish businesses and synagogues, both on the island territory and in the United States, in an effort to stop the facility from opening. To date, no actual protests against the Jewish community have been reported.
In published articles in Primera Hora and the Daily Sun, Brito blamed “Jewish economic interests” for past environmental incidents, including a fire at a petroleum plant. “This is a concerted action by Jewish economic interests,” he said of the proposed primate facility. “This invention of bringing a facility for wild monkeys from Israel to Guayama constitutes ethnic discrimination against Puerto Ricans who live in Guayama.”
Bioculture Ltd., with facilities at 19 sites around the world, has secured construction permits and hopes to begin operating the breeding facility next summer in Guayama. According to published reports, the company is based in the African island nation of Mauritius.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.