New York, NY, August 7, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned statements by Hugo Chavez comparing Israel's military offensive against Hezbollah to the actions of Hitler during the Holocaust, and called on the Venezuelan President to consider the potential impact of his words closer to home.
"Clearly, President Chavez needs a reality check when it comes to the Middle East conflict," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "It is outrageous for him to suggest that Israel, the home of the Jewish people, is behaving like Nazis. Need we remind Mr. Chavez that the State of Israel, which arose out of the ashes of the Holocaust, once again is fighting to defend itself against an implacable enemy whose goal is the destruction of the Jewish State?"
In an interview with the Qatar-based satellite station Al Jazeera, Mr. Chavez said Israel's military action was an "unjustified aggression that is being carried out in the style of Hitler, in a fascist fashion." On August 3, Chavez announced that he had withdrawn Venezuela's ambassador to Israel in protest of the war in Lebanon.
In a letter to Mr. Chavez, the League noted that his words could have unintended consequences: "We are deeply concerned that statements demonizing Israel and anti-Semitism cloaked in anti-Zionist terms may be used by others to justify violence against Jews, wherever they live, including in your own country of Venezuela."
ADL expressed solidarity with the Confederacion Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuala (CAIV) in their activities on behalf of the Venezuelan Jewish community and their statement expressing clear support for Israel. The League joined with the CAIV in their call for the government of Venezuela to repudiate anti-Semitism and to reject the equating of Israel's military actions with Nazism.