Originally published in Israel Today
El Salvador’s new president is an Arab of “Palestinian” descent. He’s also a fan of the Jewish state.
The small Central American nation is home to a community of 100 000 Palestinian migrants. While it is unclear how most of them view the Israel-Palestinian conflict, what we do know is that President-elect Nayib Bukele has no problem building relations with the Jewish state.
A year ago, in February 2018, at a time when many of his political contemporaries were cozying up to Venezuela and Cuba to spite US President Donald Trump, Bukele chose to visit Jerusalem.
While here, the then-mayor of El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, met with his counterpart, then-Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. He also laid a memorial wreath at Yad Vashem and prayed at the Western Wall.
Arab media reported that Bukele faced harsh criticism from Palestinians in El Salvador over his “normalization” with Israel. It also seems that he was vilified, possibly by conservative Catholic elements, for visiting a mosque.
In a Facebook post addressing what he called these “dirty” campaign tactics, Bukele insisted that he was simply not “religious,” and therefore had no problem visiting the Dome of the Rock, the Vatican and the Western Wall.
However, while he has problems with organised religion, Bukele stressed that he does believe in Jesus and relies upon the Word of God to guide his life.
“I respect all religions, and those who wish to believe in them, but I believe that the relationship with God is personal, I believe that no one is saved in groups, but that salvation is obtained individually,” wrote El Salvador’s new leader.
“That’s why I’ve accepted Jesus Christ, that’s why I read the Word of God written in the Bible when I feel confused or need guidance, that’s why I ask Yahweh for the wisdom he gave to Solomon, though I know I’ll never be so wise. That’s why I believe deeply in God and in his kingdom, but I don’t consider myself religious.”