The Chavez Regime: Fostering Anti-Semitism and Supporting Radical Islam
Posted: November 6, 2006
This report details a number of troubling trends observable in the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Chavez and his government-affiliated institutions have elevated their anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric – under the guise of anti-imperialism and anti-Americanism – to dangerous new levels.
At the same time, a proliferation of anti-Jewish statements and actions by government officials, university faculty and government-sponsored media outlets has created a spillover effect into mainstream society in Venezuela, where anti-Israel rallies, anti-Semitic vandalism and vicious anti-Jewish caricatures have become all-too commonplace.
This is taking place as Chavez has taken an aggressively hostile foreign policy stance against America and the West and, by extension, the State of Israel. Indeed, the Chavez regime has aligned itself with countries and radical Islamic movements that are a verifiable threat to Israel and world Jewry, among them Iran and the Lebanon-based terrorist group, Hezbollah.
Specific trends documented in this report include:
- Promoting Anti-Semitism: Chavez and his government have resorted to implicit and explicit anti-Semitic displays by rehashing the ancient canard of Jews as power-hungry and conspiratorial, blaming Israel and the Jews for the world's problems, and adopting anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish financial influence and control.
- Allying with Extremists and Radical Islamists: Chavez has strengthened and formed new alliances with extreme leaders in the Middle East, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Chavez also has fostered relationships with convicted guerrilla terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez (a.k.a. Carlos The Jackal) and Holocaust denier Norberto Ceresole of Argentina.
- Support for Hezbollah: The Venezuelan government has openly expressed support for the terrorist organization Hezbollah and solidarity with Iran, whose leaders question Israel's right to exist, deny the Holocaust, and continue to defy calls by the international community to halt nuclear production. During the 2006 conflict in Lebanon, the Venezuelan National Assembly and various Venezuelan states issued a number of one-sided declarations against Israel. Chavez himself was very aggressive in condemning Israel's actions against Hezbollah, recalling his charge d'affaires from Israel and threatening to sever diplomatic relations.
- Israel Bashing: The government's rhetoric has become increasingly anti-Zionist, comparing Israel and Zionism to Nazi Germany. These views are frequently expressed in various Venezuelan government-sponsored media outlets, in radio and TV broadcasts, newspaper articles and political cartoons. Israel is the target of Venezuelan government officials and faculty of public universities who have received an implicit "green light" from Chavez to promote classical anti-Zionist and increasingly anti-Semitic views. Following Chavez's provocative September 2006 speech to the U.N., reports in the government-sponsored media suggested that the CIA and Mossad were plotting his assassination.
- 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.
There are a reported 25,000-plus Jews living in Venezuela today. For years, Venezuelan Jews lived peacefully with their non-Jewish neighbors; anti-Semitism was in fact negligible before Chavez rose to power. Jewish communal activities started in the 1920s and 1930s when immigration from Northern Africa and Europe began. In the 1940s, Holocaust survivors were warmly welcomed in Venezuela as were Sephardic Jews emigrating from Arab countries in the 1950s and 60s.
The Jewish community, as represented by its umbrella organization the Confederacion de Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuela (CAIV), has actively denounced recent anti-Semitism and issued statements articulating their Zionism and declaring their concern regarding the one-sided government stance against Israel.