Decision By Venezuela And Bolivia To Cut Ties With Israel Is "Inflammatory And Offensive"
New York, NY, January 20, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called the decision of the Presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia to sever diplomatic relations with the State of Israel "inflammatory and offensive," saying it sends a message to their people that their leaders side with the terrorist organization Hamas.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
The inflammatory and offensive decisions made by the governments of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia to sever relations with Israel send a message to the people of Bolivia and Venezuela that the leaders of those countries stand with the terrorist organization Hamas. Equally disturbing is the message being sent to Jewish communities living in those countries that there is no place in Caracas or La Paz for Israel's diplomats.
This latest action follows the outrageous condemnation of Israel's military actions in Gaza by Chavez, and his call for the Venezuelan Jewish community to join in that condemnation. Chavez's action unleashed an outpouring of anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of synagogues, Jewish-owned businesses and city plazas, the appearance of Nazi imagery in anti-Israel rallies and appeals to boycott Jewish-owned and Israeli businesses.
The political decision to expel Israel's representatives coupled with approval of and support for Hamas and its Iranian backers are dangerous signals that officials in the Chavez regime question Israel's right to exist and stand with those who systematically engage in hatred of the Jewish people. The immorality of these actions in the face of Israel fulfilling the basic right of any country, to defend itself against attacks on its civilians, is transparent.
Ironically, less than a month after Chavez signed a "Declaration against Racism" along with the Presidents of Argentina and Brazil, which theoretically condemns anti-Semitism, Chavez's anti-Zionist rhetoric encouraged and invigorated anti-Semitism in Venezuela. We believe this is a crucial opportunity for President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina to demonstrate moral leadership by condemning the hostile environment against Jews created by the President of Venezuela. We call on them to lead their region on the road of tolerance and understanding.
We stand with the Confederación de Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuela (CAIV) in their support for the State of Israel and for a durable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. We join the CAIV in their appeal to the Venezuelan government to guarantee the protection of all of its citizens by ceasing and discouraging the use of inflammatory rhetoric toward Jews. We also support the small Jewish community in Bolivia and hope that a hostile environment does not develop for them.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.