Chavez's Venezuela: The Jewish Community Under Threat
Posted: February 2, 2009
When Chavez speaks, government officials and his followers act. So it came as no surprise that the political machine built by Chavez echoed his anti-Semitic statements in the press, on radio and television, in the streets of Caracas and in cities across Venezuela.
During the Gaza crisis, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements were made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Interior, The President of the National Assembly, a number of congresspeople, the PSUV (the government's political party), representatives of Venezuela in the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Latin American Parliament, as well as Governors across the country who support Chavez.
These statements vilified Israel as a terrorist aggressor. The word Zionist was equated with fascist. Israel and its actions are compared to the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Some government officials questioned Israel's right to exist. Many of Chavez's cronies have included Venezuelan Jews in their condemnations.
None of the official government statements in Venezuela have expressed sympathy for the lives of Israeli civilians who have been under a constant barrage of attacks from the terrorist organization Hamas for more than eight years. Instead, government officials, led by Chavez, vilified Israel in the context of the regime's anti-Imperialist agenda. Not only does this show a lack of understanding of the conflict in Gaza, but it also seeks to import a conflict occurring miles away as a means to advance Chavez's anti-American and anti-Zionist sentiments.
The magazine Encontrarte, distributed by the Ministry of Culture, devoted its January 17 edition to the Palestinian plight. Close to 60 articles were published to illustrate one-sided views condemning Israel's alleged terrorist actions and making Holocaust references. Some of the articles included anti-Semitic myths of financial control as well as the power of the Jewish lobby. Titles of some articles were: "The Gaza Ghetto and the West's Hypocrisy", "We are all Palestinians", "Hamas is a Creation of the Mossad", "Palestine: the crime of existing", "The Jewish lobby in the Obama government", "Zionism, Imperialism and Global Terrorism."
The following are selected excerpts of statements by Venezuelan government ministries and top government officials:
"The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela strongly condemns the flagrant violations of international law committed by the State of Israel, and denounces its planned use of state terrorism, which places this country outside the concert of Nations.
"Because of the above mentioned reasons, the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has decided to expel the Israeli Ambassador and the staff of the Israeli Embassy in Venezuela, reaffirming its mission for peace and its demand for respect for international law. …
"President Hugo Chávez, who has held meetings with senior representatives of the World Jewish Council, and has always been opposed to anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination and racism, fraternally calls on the Jewish people throughout the world to oppose these criminal policies of Israel that are reminiscent of the worst pages in the history of the twentieth century. With the genocide of the Palestinian people, the state of Israel will never be able to offer to its people the prospect of a lasting and needed peace."
-- Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January, 6, 2009
"I ratify my repudiation of the Jewish Holocaust and ask that Jews stand up from the depth of their conscience to repudiate the Palestinian Holocaust that is being committed by the Zionist elite governing Israel."
-- Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro at a rally in the Sheik Ibrahim Mosque in Caracas, January 6, 2009. (Source: Venezolana de Television)
"Under the inhumane persecution of the Palestinian people, directed by the Israeli authorities, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will insist to the international community, to denounce [Israel] in the International Criminal Court for the humanitarian crimes of its leaders and will not rest until they are severely punished"
-- Statement by Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro severing relations with the State of Israel, January 14, 2009
"The information published in the Argentine Jewish Press, an official arm of Israel, has only one objective, which is to manipulate and foster a campaign of intrigue to try to diminish and lower the moral and political impact of the decision made by our government to declare persona non grata and expel seven Israeli diplomats, including the Israeli ambassador Shlomo Cohen."
-- Statement by Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro in response to an article published in the Argentine Jewish Press (AJN) suggesting that Venezuela wants to re-establish ties with the State of Israel, January 14, 2009
"[I speak] beyond my government duties, because I am also a child of Arabs, I am Palestinian, I am Iraqi and we are today the force of resistance…How much bloodshed does the world need to react to the death promoted by the State of Israel?...In Venezuela there is a piece of Palestine and in Palestine there is a piece of Venezuela. Our revolution is also the revolution for a Free Palestine…You should know that here we are all willing to offer our lives, if needed, but the bombs and rifles will not quiet us down…We have dignity and the dignity that is bestowed on the Bolivarian revolution is equal to that of the Palestinian revolution! Long live Palestine! Long live Hugo Chavez, Long live the Revolution!"
-- Interior Minister Tarek Al Aissami, at a rally in the Sheik Ibrahim Mosque in Caracas, January 6, 2009 (Source: Venezolana de Television).
"… in response to the Israeli government's policy of Genocide against the Palestinian people, and faced with the crimes against humanity committed by its political and military elite in the Gaza Strip, and given Israel's repeated use of State Terrorism, and given its government's unwillingness to respect Resolution 1860 of the Security Council; given all of the above, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela … has decided to break diplomatic relations with the Israeli State. …
"Mr. President, the actions of the Israeli State seek to subjugate the Palestinian people by means of its extermination. This is genocide! Crimes against humanity have been committed and they cannot go unpunished. …
"The plan is to expel and exterminate the Palestinian citizens from their land with the support of imperial powers. The Israeli government's punitive measures are part of a deliberate strategy aimed at rendering unviable the Palestinian people's the ability to effectively self determine itself in a free manner. In this context, it foments military action designed to carry out an ethnic cleansing of this Arab people."
-- Venezuelan Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Julio Escalona, in statements to the General Assembly, January 7, 2009
"First it was a ghetto, next a concentration camp and finally an extermination camp… I speak of Gaza which, observed by the overwhelmed eyes of the world, sees how an arrogant and mediocre military elite —on the eve of the general elections in Israel—understands only the language of violence and devotes itself to the slaughter of innocents arguing they are punishing the guilty."
-- Venezuelan Representative to the Organization of American States, Roy Chaderton, January 14, 2009
"PSUV demands that Israel ceases its aggressions against the Palestinian people! The National Leadership of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) expresses its absolute condemnation of the military aggression of Israel against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. … We, the socialists in Venezuela, recall that the accomplice silence of the international community made possible the genocide against the Jewish people during World War II. Now, when we are witnesses of the extermination policy of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people, Venezuela won't keep its mouth shut."
-- Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (United Socialist Party of Venezuela - PSUV) – President Chavez's political party, January 18, 2009
"We are supporting the decision by the Venezuelan President to expel the Israeli Ambassador in Venezuela. The people of Anzoategui and the Arab community are demonstrating our solidarity with the people of Palestine. We voice our words of freedom, our condemnation to war and to the massacre against defenseless people, against women, children, against homemakers. It should be allowed once and for all to lift the ban on Gaza to deliver food and medicine and to stop the Holocaust."
-- Governor of Anzoategui, Tarek William Saab, at an anti-Israeli rally in Anzoategui, January 8, 2009
"The Zionist government of Israel has converted Gaza in a humongous concentration camp, as well as Palestine in the biggest open-sky prison known in the world and tolerated by many of the countries who claim to defend Human Rights, these under the complicity of Washington and the UN… Israel's intransigent stance has impeded time and again a the peaceful resolution; first with Yasser Arafat, then with Abu Abbas and now with Hamas"
-- Statement issued by the Vice President of the Venezuelan Group of the Latin American Parliament, Carolus Wimmer, December 28, 2008