New York, NY, March 21, 2012 … The government of President Hugo Chavez once again is stirring anti-Semitism in Venezuela as "a convenient tool and ultimate scapegoat," this time to attack an opposition candidate and presidential rival whose Jewish ancestry has become the focus of numerous attack articles, commentaries and editorial cartoons in the state-run media.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in a new report issued today details the extent to which the government media apparatus of President Chavez is promoting classical anti-Semitic myths and canards in an effort to portray opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski as being tainted by his Jewish lineage. The report is available on the League's Web site in English and Spanish (.pdf).
Since announcing his candidacy, Mr. Capriles, a devout Catholic and the descendant of a family of Sephardic and Polish-Russian Jews, has repeatedly been assailed in articles appearing in Venezuelan state-run radio and newspapers and in broadcast commentaries as being "disloyal" to his country, as belonging to an international Zionist cabal that controls the media and global finance, as being an "Israeli agent," and as someone with "Jewish blood" who exploits the misery of others using "oppressive" tactics such as those allegedly used by Israelis against the Palestinians.
"This is a new and bizarre twist on the anti-Semitism long championed by the government of Hugo Chavez and routinely disseminated through the government-controlled media of Venezuela," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "One would have thought that anti-Jewish attacks wouldn't stick when thrown at a Catholic presidential candidate, but when you are dealing with a bully pulpit that will stop at nothing to undermine the opposition, Jews become a convenient tool and ultimate scapegoat."
The League's report, "Classical Anti-Semitism in the Venezuelan Presidential Elections" is the fourth of its kind from ADL focusing on the anti-Semitic environment promoted by the Chavez regime in Venezuela that has flourished as Chavez tries to retain power while continuing to promote his distinctly anti-American and anti-Israel worldview.
The report shows how Chavistas have been writing, commenting and tweeting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories linking Mr. Capriles to a global Zionist cabal that aims to "take over Venezuela." Many of the originators of such commentaries seem to use as a backdrop the infamous 19th Century anti-Semitic forgery, "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." They claim Mr. Capriles is a representative of the purported global Jewish conspiracy and hold up to his "Jewish ancestry" as evidence. Some editorial cartoons appearing in Venezuelan newspapers have likewise compared Mr. Capriles to a Nazi or shown him dressed in Nazi regalia or depicted him as a Hitler-like figure.
In the last decade, the Jewish community in Venezuela has faced an increase in anti-Semitic incidents. "We fear," said Mr. Foxman, "this new wave of anti-Semitism in the media is once again isolating Venezuelan Jews and making them feel increasingly vulnerable. It is our hope through exposure of their tactics and pressure from other governments and watchdog groups that President Chavez and his supporters will tamp down the anti-Semitic rhetoric that has become a handy tool of their political power."
A March 3 editorial in the government-aligned Kikiriki newspaper stated:
"…the Zionist Jews seized the money of the world and its large corporations, banks and companies; its radio, TV and print media, and now they have an eye on Venezuela. Capriles Radonski, billionaire, is the son of a Jewish father and Jewish mother, thus one needs to study his international connections and look deep into its history. We will be screwed if Jews come to power; and whomever doubts it ask the Palestinians and the Arabs."
The League's report documents similar accusations on the Web site of Radio Nacional de Venezuela, on Aporrea.org, in the state-run newspaper Diario Vea and state-run television station Venezolana de Television, and elsewhere.