(WJC)–In his latest diatribe, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frias has called Israel “genocidal” and a “cursed terrorist and murderous state”. In a speech broadcast on national television and amid shouts of “Long Live Palestine” Chávez also accused Israel of supporting the local opposition against his government. “Israel is financing the Venezuelan opposition. There are even groups of Israeli terrorists, of the Mossad, who are after me trying to kill me,” he said.
In the same speech, Chavez sent his “greetings and respect” to the local Jewish community. “They know they have our affection and respect,” he said, adding later that “I doubt very much that a Venezuelan Jew would support such an atrocity.”
The local Jewish community has had a strained relationship with the government following a spate of attacks against Jewish houses of worship last year, including an assault against the city’s main synagogue.
Other Latin American nations closely aligned with Chavez have also come out strongly against the Jewish state. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa recalled his country’s ambassador from Tel Aviv, while Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said he was suspending diplomatic relations between the two nations. Venezuela severed its diplomatic ties with Israel last year, following the war in Gaza.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.
By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Adversaries of the United States blame the United States for their woes. THE President, not “this president,” or “that president,” receives the animus of those who need America to be their adversary. Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua -to some extent Russia and China-all use the United States as a foil. In the previous administration, President Bush was the focus of their ire and there were those who said it was deserved. Now, increasingly, President Obama is the object of their anger-unfortunately, he still seems to think he doesn’t deserve it.
It is not enough for the President of the United States to boast of his minority status, Third World parentage, Islamic heritage in his background if not in his practice, or even, as he once said, a “funny” name. It is not enough to apologize for the prior sins of America, not enough not to be “not President Bush,” and not enough to continually and publicly foist blame on his predecessor. To those who need a big, bad United States to deflect from their own shortcomings, President Obama is indistinguishable from the rest of us.
Which is actually the way it’s supposed to be.
JINSA has no comment on the climate change agenda, but the Copenhagen meeting was worrisome-not for any impact it may have on countries’ behavior as regards climate, but for the bludgeon it handed to avowed enemies of the United States and the West, the response of the assembled and the serial failure of the President to defend his country.
Hugo Chávez and Robert Mugabe-responsible for the impoverishing of otherwise bountiful countries and the wreckage of human rights and human lives in Venezuela and Zimbabwe-denounced President Obama, the United States, and the West. Chávez only months ago praised President Obama by saying he had replaced the “smell of sulfur” (referencing his prior insult to President Bush) at the UN with the “smell of hope.” But in Copenhagen said, “It smells of sulfur here. It keeps smelling of sulfur in this world.” He encouraged President Obama to “leave by the back door.”
Mugabe, who beggared the “Breadbasket of Africa” and is under international sanction for massive human rights violations, told the assembled, “When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it’s we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp and sink and eventually die.”
Nothing new, but the damnation of capitalism, America and the West by dangerous, raving lunatics was met with thunderous applause by the European and Third World assemblage-some of whom are our friends and allies in other arenas.
President Obama will never placate or bribe Chávez or Mugabe or Assad or Ahmadinejad into a change of fundamental attitude-and we are beyond the point where he should be apologizing for his country. It is time for the President to take up a strong defense of the capitalist West against the agglomeration of Western anti-Western, anti-American, anti-capitalists who were cheering for our-and their own-demise.
The applause is more worrisome than the lunatics.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.
BUENOS AIRES (wjc)–Alberto Nisman, the Argentinean prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires warned of Iran’s growing terror network in Latin America. “The Iranians are moving fast. We see a much greater penetration than we did in 1994,” Nisman told a conference of the American Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
He said that Iran, particularly through Hezbollah, now had a growing presence in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, using techniques it honed in Argentina before the country took steps against Iran.
Nisman spoke of sham operations involving taxi drivers, who conducted surveillance without arousing suspicion, fake medical school students who could stay in the country for many years without raising eyebrows, and business fronts that helped funnel cash to operatives.
Iranians cultivated ties at the local mosques to search for people who could be radicalized. Today, he said, Argentina was considered a “hostile environment” for Iran, but the Iranian terrorist groups were finding fertile ground in other Latin American countries. “The stronger element that happens today is the complicity of the government,” he said, pointing to the networks Iran develops through its embassies. “We know that [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chávez allows Hezbollah to come in.”
Nisman said there were “too many countries in Europe that continue to turn a blind eye … like with the Nazis.” He called on these countries to refuse to welcome Iranian leaders to international forums like the United Nations until they adhere to the Interpol-backed warrants and hand over the men wanted by Argentina in connection with the AMIA bombing. “Iran will not long be able to resist,” he contended. “It cannot fight against the entire world.”
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For those who have asked why JINSA has kept Honduras in the spotlight since June, this is why: small democratic countries trying mightily to exercise legitimate governance and self-determination deserve our vocal support even – or especially – when they do things the U.S. would prefer they didn’t.
Honduras is one of these countries, as is Israel. We have been surprised by the lack of Israeli interest in the democratic exercise of sovereign rights by Honduras, and especially in the lack of interest in the pressure exerted by the U.S. government to force compliance with America’s wishes.
The presidential and legislative election held in Honduras on Sunday provides an opportunity for American administration to walk back its decision to punish the small, poor Central American country for ousting its then-president Manuel Zelaya last June as he tried to pave the way for multiple terms, in violation of the Honduran constitution. The election included only candidates nominated long before Zelaya’s ouster – and the interim president, who was never a candidate, removed himself from public view in the last week of the campaign.
The first decision of Team Obama back then was knee-jerk support for the radical line – joining Chavez, Ortega and Castro calling the ouster, authorized by the Honduran Supreme Court and legislature, a coup. Then, in swift succession a) agreeing to the suspension of Honduras from the OAS; b) withdrawing accreditation from Honduran Ambassador Roberto Flores; c) withholding foreign aid; d) threatening Honduran access to previously awarded Millennium Challenge grants; e) refusing a diplomatic visa to the interim president for his visit to the UN General Assembly (a violation of UN rules); and e) using the American Ambassador in Honduras as point man to threaten Honduras’s future relations with Washington.
It was distinctly more American pressure than was applied to the Iranian government as it stole an election and punished demonstrators with arrest, torture and death.
The interim Honduran government, plus most of the arms of authority in the country – the legislature, the Supreme Court, the Catholic Church and the Human Rights Commission – held fast to the belief that their constitution mattered. And after Senate Republicans held up the nominations of two Obama appointees for State Department Latin America posts, the Administration was pressured into turning to Costa Rica’s Oscar Arias to try to hammer out an agreement between Zelaya and the interim government.
A four-point plan emerged, giving the Honduran legislature and Supreme Court the lead in determining their own country’s future and obliging the U.S. and the OAS to sanction yesterday’s election. The legislature will meet on 2 December to determine the fate of Zelaya and his failed attempt to hijack the country. The interim president has said he will respect the legislature’s decision – even if it brings Zelaya back to complete his term until the January handover of power to the newly elected president.
Oscar Arias told the AP that he believes other Central and South American nations will respect the Honduran vote – Costa Rica will, he promised. Brazil, Argentina and others have said they may not – claiming the election would only ratify the “coup.” This is blatant interference in the internal affairs of a neighboring country, and the U.S., still the most important player in the hemisphere, should be quick to declare where it stands.
If it stands on the side of Honduras, all could be well that ends well.
We often call Israel the canary in the coal mine of Western, liberal democracy. Honduras may prove to be the canary in Israel’s coal mine.
Bryen is special projects director for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. (JINSA). Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.