Photo: AFP
Hugo Chavez
Photo: AFP

Venezuela's Chavez, Jews reconcile

President of Jewish community satisfied, says president not anti-Semitic

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday met with local Jewish leaders after a top Jewish rights group accused him of making anti-Semitic remarks during a televised Christmas Eve speech.


The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center slammed Chavez for referring broadly to "minorities, descendants of those who crucified Christ" and those who had "grabbed all the wealth."


Venezuela's Jewish community later said it believed the left-wing leader's remarks were not anti-Semitic.


"I think both sides were satisfied because we spoke with honesty," Freddy Pressner, president of the Venezuela Confederation of Israelite Associations, said after the meeting.


Chavez was clear in his condemnation of anti-Semitism in a recent speech to the National Assembly, Pressner said.


Deicide, Jewish money


After the Venezuelan leader made the remarks last month, the Wiesenthal Center sent him a letter stating that "in your words we find two central arguments of anti-Semitism: the canard of the deicide and the association of Jews with wealth."


The government later released a complete transcript of the statement, in which Chavez made similar remarks about those who betrayed 19th century Venezuelan liberator Simon Bolivar.


Chavez and his supporters insisted he had not referred to Jews but instead to the world's rich elites.


Anti-Venezuela aggression


Pressner said his organization asked Chavez to closely monitor the transmission of anti-Semitic remarks on state broadcast media.


"We manifested our concern about the wave of anti-Semitic commentary generated by various official media and certain government-affiliated organizations," he said.


In a speech on Tuesday night, Chavez described the accusations of anti-Semitism as "part of the international aggression against Venezuela."


"We are opposed to any ideology that attacks anyone," he said.


The self-styled socialist revolutionary has promised sweeping reforms in the world's fifth-largest oil exporter. He often makes blistering attacks on the U.S. government and blames Venezuela's chronic poverty on years of neglect by the country's ruling elites.


פרסום ראשון: 02.01.06, 17:10
 new comment
This will delete your current comment