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Chavez fosters anti-Semitism in Venezuela

NEW YORK (Press Release)–Acerbic and hate-filled statements by President Hugo Chavez and other Venezuelan government leaders are once again contributing to a climate of rising anti-Semitism in Venezuela, where extreme criticism of Israel “continues to be used as a political tool.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), recent statements from Chavez and others in the government fit into a pattern of extreme anti-Israel rhetoric from Venezuela’s current leaders. In the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla affair, President Chavez cursed Israel as a “terrorist state” and an enemy of the Venezuelan revolution and claimed Israel’s Mossad spy agency was trying to assassinate him.

“Extreme criticism and the de-legitimization of Israel continue to be used by the government of Venezuela as a political tool,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The atmosphere of extreme anti-Israel criticism and an unsettling focus on the Venezuelan Jewish community’s attitudes creates an environment for anti-Semitism to grow and flourish. So far this hasn’t translated into attacks against individual Jews or Jewish institutions.  However, we cannot forget that the Jewish community in Venezuela has already witnessed violent anti-Semitic incidents in the past few years.”

In a new online report, the League documents recent anti-Semitic expressions in Venezuela in the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla incident, including those of government and political leaders, conspiracy theories and accusations in the government-run media, and statements on various anti-Israel Web sites.

In a June 12 interview with the government-owned national television network, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro was asked about Hezbollah’s alleged presence in Venezuela and the threat of an attack on the Jewish community. He suggested that should a terrorist attack be carried out on Venezuelan soil, a likely culprit would be the “intelligence assassin apparatus of the State of Israel,” the Mossad.

Vilification of Zionism is particularly present in the government-run media and the so-called “alternative” media run by government sympathizers who are intricately intertwined with the government apparatus, according to ADL.  Media and political leaders seem to take their cues from Chavez, who has in the past few years made his feelings about Israel all-too clear.

“While Chavez tries to inoculate himself against charges of anti-Semitism by issuing assurances that he is not against Jews, he and his government hold the Jewish community to account for their positions on Israel,” said Mr. Foxman. “Chavez has called on Venezuelan Jews to speak out against Israel, and this has put the community in a difficult position where their loyalty to their country is being called into question.”

The League’s report includes examples of cartoons and images from anti-Israel rallies, as well as excerpts of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements from the Web site Aporrea.org, whose founder and webmaster until February 2009 was Martin Sanchez, the Venezuelan Consul General of San Francisco. Aporrea is a forum for anti-Semitic sentiments filled with stereotypes of Jews reminiscent of the fictional “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.”
Editors Note: The full report, including visuals, is available on the League’s Web site .

Preceding provided by the Anti-Defamation League

  1. Luke Weyland
    June 17, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez is not anti Semite. Nor is he is not Anti- Jewish. (not necessarily the same thing). He does not oppose the existence of the State of Israel. Hugo Chavez , however,is against the racist policies of the Israeli government leveled against the Palestinian people and the blockade that Israel has in place against the 1.5 million people of Gaza.

    So am I.

    • June 17, 2010 at 9:09 am

      Luke–I’m willing to bet you’ve never been to Israel. If you had, you’d know how untrue your statements about Israeli racism are. Arab citizens in Israel not only enjoy full privileges of citizenship, they have elected members of the Knesset, and those that choose to do so, even serve in diplomatic posts. Druze and Bedouin Arabs serve in the Israeli military.

      Israel airlifted many thousands of black Africans from Ethiopia and provided them a home in which they were accepted as fellow Jews. If you look at the faces of Israelis, you’ll find that they come in many hues. So what you’ve been hearing about racism and apartheid is simply sloganeering. It doesn’t happen in Israel. As for the Palestinian territories, the differences between the West Bank and Gaza are remarkable. In the former, the Fatah-led government has been concentrating on making economic progress and providing jobs for its people. Ramallah is bursting with new construction projects and civic improvements. In Gaza, on the other hand, the Hamas government remains intent on keeping the waters roiled. On a regular basis, Kassam rockets are fired across the border at the civilians of Sha’ar Hanegev, which happens to be the sister region in Israel for the Jews in San Diego County. So our San Diego Jewish community knows what goes on there from first hand accounts and from first-hand travel.

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