Trouble In Venezuela? Time To Blame The Jews!

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 24, 2009

It’s always the same old song and dance, isn’t it? Dictator finds country, dictator ravages country, dictator blames the Jews:

On January 30, 2009 fifteen heavily armed men stormed the Tiferet Israel synagogue in the Mariperez neighborhood of Caracas. They held down two guards, robbed the premises, and desecrated the temple, throwing the Torah and other religious paraphernalia to the floor and painting graffiti on the walls: “Out, Death to All”; “Damned Israel, Death”; “666” with a drawing of the devil; “Out Jews”; “We don’t want you, assassins”; a star of David, an equal sign, and a swastika.

The event, though shocking, was neither isolated nor unprecedented. Over the past four years, Venezuela has witnessed alarming signs of state-directed anti-Semitism, including a 2005 Christmas declaration by President Hugo Chávez himself: “The World has enough for everybody, but some minorities, the descendants of the same people that crucified Christ, and of those that expelled Bolívar from here and in their own way crucified him. . . . have taken control of the riches of the world.”

In late 2004 the police stormed Hebraica, a Jewish social, educational, and sports center, ostensibly to search for guns and explosives. No weapons were found. But finding them may never have been the purpose of the raid: it coincided with the beginning of Hugo Chávez’s official visit to Tehran. Thus, Sammy Eppel, director of the Human Rights Commission of the Venezuelan B’nai B’rith, poignantly interpreted the event: “Chávez was showing Iran: ‘This is how I deal with my Jews.’”

Read on for a discussion on how Chavez supports and defends people who spout anti-Semitic nonsense, how he analogizes Israelis to Nazis, and how, of course, the anti-Semitism of the Chavez regime is of a piece with his general anti-opposition intimidation tactics.

I imagine that there is still debate in certain quarters as to whether Hugo Chavez is a dictator, a tyrant, and a bully. Can we finally resolve that indeed, he is?

  • justindelacour

    The Boston Review piece that you cite is a complete fabrication. There is no “state-directed anti-Semitism” in Venezuela. To see the Venezuelan government's actual position on the matter, I would suggest that you read a statement by Roy Chaderton Matos, who has served as Venezuela's Ambassador to the Organization of American States.

    “Chavismo: Christian, Anti-Nazi, Pro-Muslim, and Pro-Jewish”
    By Roy Chaderton Matos
    Monthly Review
    February 2, 2009
    http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/chaderton02

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    Thank you kindly for the ridiculous agitprop. We all needed a laugh and it doesn't obscure in the slightest the fact that Hugo Chavez repeated the ridiculous blood libel against the Jews. Go apologize for more worthy subjects.

  • justindelacour

    The only “ridiculous agitprop” here is (1) your own and (2) that of the Boston Review authors. I would suggest that you study up on this subject because you obviously know nothing about it. The Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) has already rejected the charge that Chavez accused the Jews of killing Christ. If you would like to see for yourself that CAIV has rejected the fallacious charge, you're more than welcome to read an article about it from the Jewish weekly Forward.

    “Venezuela’s Jews Defend Leftist President in Flap Over Remarks”
    By Marc Perelman
    Forward
    January 13, 2006
    http://www.forward.com/articles/1874/

    As it turns out, the Wiesenthal Center edited a speech by Chavez so as to manufacture the slur. Unfortunately, the Boston Review authors persist in this libelous campaign.

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    Yawn. All of your sound and fury won't hide the fact that there are attacks going on in Venezuela that are government sanctioned, and fit in with the Chavez regime's efforts to find a scapegoat for its own failed policies. I suppose you'll tell me that all of those police raids against Jewish institutions are entirely free from Chavezista influence, eh? I suppose you'll tell me that the promulgation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on pro-Chavez websites is entirely free from government encouragement too.

    If Hugo Chavez didn't know that the “Christ-killer” rhetoric isn't traditionally used against Jews, he is even dumber than I give him credit for. Of course he knew what he was saying. And of course, he knew that the rhetoric would be interpreted as an attack against Jews. The rhetoric is of a piece with Chavez's generally repulsive anti-Semitism, which is apologized for by useful puppets like you who promulgate–yes–agitprop. And pathetically unconvincing agitprop at that.

    Don't go lecturing people to “study up” when it is clear that either you are ignorant or a liar when it comes to the Venezuelan regime's anti-Semitism. The facts of the Chavez regime's bigotry are out there for all to see. I am sorry it disconcerts you to find that your idol practices one of the world's oldest forms of bigotry, but there it is. Maybe it's time for you to find new idols to worship. You know, humane ones, worthy of admiration.

  • justindelacour

    All of your sound and fury won't hide the fact that there are attacks going on in Venezuela that are government sanctioned, and fit in with the Chavez regime's efforts to find a scapegoat for its own failed policies.

    Well, now you're just spouting wild jibberish, Mr. Yousefzadeh. There are no such “government sanctioned” attacks or government-sponsored scapegoating of Jews in Venezuela. No doubt that anti-Semitism exists within Venezuelan society –as it exists in most predominantly Catholic societies– but that is a separate issue from the positions of the Venezuelan government. The Chávez government, for its part, has consistently drawn a distinction between its criticisms of Israeli policy and the anti-Jewish bigotry that some of the government’s supporters sometimes display. For example, after Venezuela suspended diplomatic relations with Israel over the bombing of Gaza, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs was careful to point out that Chávez “has always opposed anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination and racism.” Just three weeks before the diplomatic break with Israel, the World Jewish Congress issued a press release congratulating Chávez for “supporting a clear condemnation of anti-Semitism” in a joint declaration with the presidents of Argentina and Brazil.

    In fact, the reality in Venezuela is quite the opposite of what you describe. Just this Spring, the former president of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) told The Jewish Chronicle that “all of our institutions are protected by the police—we cannot complain about that.”

    Thus, I would conclude –on the basis of the actual testimony of Jewish leaders in Venezuela– that your accusations are complete garbage. The real issue here is that people like you don't like leftists who criticize Israeli repression in the occupied territories, so you trump up charges of “anti-Semitism” against Chavez.

  • justindelacour

    All of your sound and fury won't hide the fact that there are attacks going on in Venezuela that are government sanctioned, and fit in with the Chavez regime's efforts to find a scapegoat for its own failed policies.

    Well, now you're just spouting wild jibberish, Mr. Yousefzadeh. There are no such “government sanctioned” attacks or government-sponsored scapegoating of Jews in Venezuela. No doubt that anti-Semitism exists within Venezuelan society –as it exists in most predominantly Catholic societies– but that is a separate issue from the positions of the Venezuelan government. The Chávez government, for its part, has consistently drawn a distinction between its criticisms of Israeli policy and the anti-Jewish bigotry that some of the government’s supporters sometimes display. For example, after Venezuela suspended diplomatic relations with Israel over the bombing of Gaza, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs was careful to point out that Chávez “has always opposed anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination and racism.” Just three weeks before the diplomatic break with Israel, the World Jewish Congress issued a press release congratulating Chávez for “supporting a clear condemnation of anti-Semitism” in a joint declaration with the presidents of Argentina and Brazil.

    In fact, the reality in Venezuela is quite the opposite of what you describe. Just this Spring, the former president of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) told The Jewish Chronicle that “all of our institutions are protected by the police—we cannot complain about that.”

    Thus, I would conclude –on the basis of the actual testimony of Jewish leaders in Venezuela– that your accusations are complete garbage. The real issue here is that people like you don't like leftists who criticize Israeli repression in the occupied territories, so you trump up charges of “anti-Semitism” against Chavez.

  • justindelacour

    All of your sound and fury won't hide the fact that there are attacks going on in Venezuela that are government sanctioned, and fit in with the Chavez regime's efforts to find a scapegoat for its own failed policies.

    Well, now you're just spouting wild jibberish, Mr. Yousefzadeh. There are no such “government sanctioned” attacks or government-sponsored scapegoating of Jews in Venezuela. No doubt that anti-Semitism exists within Venezuelan society, as it exists in most predominantly Catholic societies, but that is a separate issue from the positions of the Venezuelan government. The Chávez government, for its part, has consistently drawn a distinction between its criticisms of Israeli policy and the anti-Jewish bigotry that some of the government’s supporters sometimes display. For example, after Venezuela suspended diplomatic relations with Israel over the bombing of Gaza, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs was careful to point out that Chávez “has always opposed anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination and racism.” Just three weeks before the diplomatic break with Israel, the World Jewish Congress issued a press release congratulating Chávez for “supporting a clear condemnation of anti-Semitism” in a joint declaration with the presidents of Argentina and Brazil.

    In fact, the reality in Venezuela is quite the opposite of what you describe. Just this Spring, the former president of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) told The Jewish Chronicle that “all of our institutions are protected by the police—we cannot complain about that.”

    Thus, I would conclude –on the basis of the actual testimony of Jewish leaders in Venezuela– that your accusations are complete garbage. The real issue here is that people like you don't like leftists who criticize Israeli repression in the occupied territories, so you trump up charges of “anti-Semitism” against Chavez.

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