Colombia’s Petro won’t condemn Hamas attack on Israel

Colombia's Gustavo Petro attends the VII Summit of CELAC in Buenos Aires. Photo: Nelson Cárdenas/Presidencia.
Colombia's Gustavo Petro attends the VII Summit of CELAC in Buenos Aires. Photo: Nelson Cárdenas/Presidencia.

In the 24 hours since Israel was ruthlessly attacked by Hamas, swift condemnations from Western leaders have poured in, all showing solidarity with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the people of Israel. But there was one notable exception: Colombia’s Gustavo Petro. Through a series of social media posts on “X” (former Twitter), President Petro’s ambiguous and insipid stance on the assault is a national disgrace.

As Israel formally announced “a state of war” against Hamas, a move that sets the stage for a military incursion in Gaza, the devastating assault by the Islamist militant group on Saturday has left more than 700 Israelis dead, thousands “unaccounted for,” and vows of retaliation with “mighty vengeance” against Hamas in Gaza and on Israeli soil. Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that Israelis must prepare for “a long and difficult war” ahead. He has urged all Palestinians residing in Gaza to evacuate immediately.

Starting with Israel’s closest ally, the United States, Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the “indiscriminate terrorist attack” by Hamas, a “terrorist organization” with close ideological and political ties to Iran. In response to the surprise attack, Israel launched airstrikes on more than 400 targets inside Gaza, resulting in an official Palestinian death toll of 370, including 20 children.

Both Israel and Palestinian authorities attest that more than 2,000 of their civilians have been injured since Saturday’s attack, a number that is increasing as the bombardments intensify. U.S. President Joe Biden expressed unwavering support for Israel, as did Canada’s Justin Trudeau, France’s Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. On Saturday evening, Germany’s most iconic landmark, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, was lit up with the colors of the Israeli flag.

Germany’s iconic Brandenburg Gate was illuminated with the flag of Israel.Photo: German Foreign Ministry.

Justin Trudeau issued the following statement on behalf of Canadians: “Canada strongly condemns the current terrorist attacks against Israel. These acts of violence are completely unacceptable. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to defend itself. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this. Civilian life must be protected.”

Words echoed by United Kingdom’s Sunak: “As the barbarity of today’s atrocities becomes clearer, we stand unequivocally with Israel. This attack by Hamas is cowardly and depraved. We have expressed our full solidarity with Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Ukraine’s Volodymye Zelenskyy released a video message in which he reaffirms that “Terror has opened far too many fronts against humanity. The war against Ukraine. The war in the Middle East. Being strong under such circumstances is to confront terrorism.”

But President Gustavo Petro is positioning Colombia on the wrong side of history by not condemning Hamas directly in his social media posts. Instead, this is what he writes: “Terrorism is killing innocent children, whether in Colombia or Palestine.” The leftist leader then calls for a “negotiated peace that allows for the existence of two states and two free and sovereign nations; Israel and Palestine.” This original message received a strong reaction from Aviva Klompas, former head of speechwriting at the Israeli Mission to the UN, in which she writes: “Colombia’s President is woefully and dangerously uninformed. He is a terror apologist.”

In response to Petro’s affirmation that “terrorism is killing innocent children in Palestine,” Israeli Ambassador Gali Dagan reminded President Petro in a heartfelt message that “in the hands of the terrorist army Hamas, more than 100 Israeli citizens have been kidnapped from their homes.Among them, the elderly and the young, men and women, boys and girls, such as the Israeli mother in the photo named Doron and her two daughters, Raz and Aviv.”

The Ambassador’s message was accompanied by an image of Israelis who were kidnapped by Hamas on Saturday. “Mr. President, help us, along with the international community, so that this beautiful family and all our kidnapped hostages can return home as soon as possible,” highlighted the foreign diplomat.

In a second, and more worrisome social message, Petro then stated the following: “If I had lived in Germany in ’33, I would have fought on the side of the Jews, and if I had lived in Palestine in 1948, I would have fought on the Palestinian side. Now the neo-Nazis want the destruction of the Palestinian people, freedom, and culture.”

In his rewrite of World War II history, and his clear pro-Palestine stance, Petro’s mere mention that “neo-Nazis want the destruction of the Palestinian people” is an affront to Colombians and proof that the Colombian Government is increasingly estranged from a community of Western nations, and their united condemnation of international terrorism.

On Saturday, Petro’s “neo-Nazi” diatribe spilled on to the streets of Bogotá with vandals defacing the entrance to the Israeli Embassy in the Colombian capital. With the columns of the building spray painted with swastikas and anti-semitic messages, President Petro, has also yet to condemn a direct assault on a foreign mission in his country.