“Christianity is Judaism for gentiles,” Colombian Senator Edgar Palacio Mizrahi said last month during a visit to Israel.
The founder of the country’s Columbian Senate Friends of Israel Allies Caucus, usually chaired by Evangelical or other Christian supporters of Israel, Mizrahi is Jewish.
But it was only recently that he discovered his Jewish roots.
Mizrahi was raised by his Catholic father, but always wondered about his mother’s name – Mizrahi – the same name that he uses. Then, just before his grandfather died, he received a surprise: Shmuel Mizrahi, his mother’s father, passed on his tefillin and a copy of his Jewish marriage certificate (ketubah) to the senator.
“That is how I discovered my identity and started studying more about my past,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
Mizrahi said that he learned that his family was originally from Greece and among the Jews who were deported during the Holocaust. Many of his extended family members were gassed at Treblinka death camp.
He also discovered that he has several family members in Israel.
Today, Mizrahi said that he practices a “theological branch of Judaism.” And he is the only known Jewish senator in Colombia to date.
“I am a philosopher,” he said.
Mizrahi was in Israel in March as part of the Israel Allies Foundation Chairman’s Conference mission to Israel, along with around 20 other Christian and pro-Israel parliament members. The group took part in diplomatic and religious meetings and toured the country.
Mizrahi founded his country’s caucus in 2019 and took a mission of 40 pro-Israel Colombians to Israel that same year.
Latin American support for Israel on rise
In general, Latin American support for Israel has been on the rise for the past decade, as the Evangelical Christian community grows in those countries. According to recent surveys, around 20% of Latin Americans are now Evangelicals, rising to close to 30% in Brazil and more than 40% in much of Central America.
For example, Christianity was behind Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’ decision to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Mizrahi said that “there is a lot of Palestinian influence in Colombia in the media and also in Congress.” He said that when he tried to form the caucus there was opposition. But “I went into political combat and won. They respect me.”
Dreaming of cooperation
He is known for defending Israel’s right to its biblical land and has pushed for access to all biblical sites in Judea and Samaria for people of all faiths, including Jews and Christians. Mizrahi was named among the "Top 40 Latin American pro-Israel advocates and leaders" in 2021 by Jewish News Syndicate.
Today, he hopes to push his government to continue to improve relations with Israel so the countries can cooperate more in the areas of technology and academia.
“Israel is a country that was a desert and actually exports water,” he told the Post. “Theodore Herzl dreamed of a country and now that country exists. I also have dream for my country – less poverty, more development. A country that wins Nobel Prizes for science – just like Israel.”
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