Last month Venezuelan police raided the Hebraica Jewish Center in Caracas. This was the latest incident of increasing anti-Semitism fostered by the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez. The center had been raided in 2004. Both raids coincided with elections.
Here’s the Center’s denounciation of the raid.
Via Siggy from HACER and the Miami Herald , journalist Sammy Eppel is now in the USA talking about the increasing anti-Semitism in Venezuela:
Journalist: There is a new fear among Jews in Venezuela
A Venezuelan journalist sounded the alarm about repeated acts of ‘government-sponsored’ anti-Semitism in the South American country at a presentation at a South Florida synagogue.
Among the examples offered by Eppel:
Venezuelan government intelligence services twice have raided the country’s most important Jewish center in a vague, ultimately unsuccessful search for weapons. Publications of the government’s cultural ministry run articles entitled “the Jewish Question,” along with a Jewish star superimposed over a swastika.
These examples, according to Eppel, an analyst and journalist who has written for El Universal and El Mundo, among other publications, are evidence of a pattern of official intimidation against the country’s fast-dwindling Jewish population. Many of them have resettled in South Florida since President Hugo Chávez’s rise.
About 30 people attended Eppel’s presentation Tuesday, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League at the Aventura Chabad. Many of the examples were excerpts from government-linked media.
One 2006 article in El Diario de Caracas debates whether it will be necessary to “expel [the Jews] from the country.” Another article in the Diario VEA accuses Jews of being involved in the murder of a government prosecutor.
The Anti-Defamation League has admonished the Venezuelan government for making the Jewish community a “target for intimidation.”
“We have called on the Venezuelan government to cease their rhetoric and their intimidation of the Jewish community in Venezuela,” said Andy Rosenkranz, the ADL’s regional director for Florida. “It’s very poisonous anytime you have government-sanctioned anti-Semitism take root because it’s a dangerous atmosphere for the Jewish community but it also shows the world kind of intimidation and instigation that the government is capable of displaying.”
Eppel drew connections between the anti-Semitism and Chavez’s alliance with the Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also stridently critical of the United States. “Chavez actually believes he is going to defeat capitalism and the U.S.,” Eppel said.
Venezuela’s Jewish community once numbered 30,000, but community leaders estimate that number has dropped dramatically during Chavez’s tenure in power.
The ADL has a report The Chavez Regime: Fostering Anti-Semitism and Supporting Radical Islam. The report points to
Intimidation and Vandalism: Government sponsored anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism may have an impact on the well-being of the Jewish community in Venezuela. The frequency of intimidation, vandalism and physical attacks against Jewish institutions in Venezuela is on the rise. Anti-Semitic graffiti and leaflets have appeared near synagogues and densely populated Jewish neighborhoods with statements including “Jews Assassins,” “Jews Dogs,” “Go Away Zionists,” “Jewish Zionist Assassins Leave,” and Stars of David equated with swastikas.
Today’s Miami Herald editorial: Stop the attacks on Jews in Venezuela
OUR OPINION: MESSAGE TO MR. CHAVEZ: ANTI-SEMITISM NOT ACCEPTABLE
This is yet another instance of the many ways Chavez continues to undermine civil society in his country.
“IMAGINE OUR JOY at being free and far from a land in which everything threatened us with death.” The young refugee’s words leap off the tattered clipping from a 1939 edition of La Esfera, a Venezuelan newspaper. “It is such a holy occurrence given that we were expelled from Germany and you have embraced us.” The refugee had arrived on one of two steamboats–the Koenigstein and the Caribia–that left Nazi Germany that year with a human cargo that would otherwise have been sentenced to death. The ships eventually docked in Venezuela, and the passengers who disembarked significantly increased the size of Venezuela’s Jewish community, which eventually grew to 45,000 people.
Sixty-five years later, an exodus of that community is well underway. The reason is not far to seek. The land that embraced those refugees has become unfriendly. Consider the traumatic morning of November 29, 2004. As parents and school buses delivered children to Colegio Hebraica, a Jewish grade school in Caracas, 25 secret police commandos in combat gear and face masks burst into the main building. Scores of preschoolers were locked in the school as panicked parents tried to retrieve them. The children were eventually freed, but the raid went on.
The government-appointed judge who ordered the raid said the commandos were looking for weapons linked to a bombing that killed Danilo Anderson, a crooked local prosecutor who had made a fortune shaking down the government’s political opponents. The raid followed speculation aired on a state-run television station that Anderson’s killing was
the work of Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence agency; presumably this guesswork justified the storming of a Jewish elementary school.
The Hebraica raid was not an isolated or random act of state-sponsored anti-Jewish violence. Hostility to Jews has become one of the hallmarks of the Venezuelan government under Hugo Chávez, the radical populist who became president in 1999, and of Chavismo, the neo-fascist ideology named for him. In January, the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor released a “Report on Global Anti-Semitism.” The report documents how openly anti-Semitic the Venezuelan government now is. Besides the raid on the Jewish school, it noted that “President Chávez cautioned citizens against following the lead of Jewish citizens in the effort to overturn his referendum victory. Anti-Semitic leaflets also were available to the public in an Interior and Justice Ministry office waiting room.”
Thor was my podcast guest last May (because of technical difficulties I basically had to speak at the top of my lungs, thank you for your forebearance).