New York, NY - Under the leadership of firebrand President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has experienced a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism, fostered in large part by Chavez's own rhetoric and that of his government institutions.
A new report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) details the troubling mix of anti-Semitism and support for radical Islam that - along with anti-imperialism and anti-Americanism - have become the calling cards of the Chavez regime.
"The Chavez Regime: Fostering Anti-Semitism and Supporting Radical Islam" examines recent statements by Chavez, articles in the government-sponsored media and the remarks of academics and government leaders, creating a portrait of a regime that promotes virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attitudes as it seeks to position itself as a regional and world player.
The Chavez regime's frequent anti-Israel statements, open support for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah and collusion with radical Islamic leaders like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran are having a "spillover effect" in Venezuelan society, with anti-Israel demonstrations, anti-Jewish graffiti and other displays of anti-Semitism becoming dangerously commonplace, according to ADL.
The Jewish population of Venezuela is reportedly about 25,000 people.
"President Hugo Chavez and his government institutions have elevated their anti-Israel rhetoric to dangerous levels, and it often crosses the line into anti-Semitism," said Abraham H. Foxman.
"It is troubling that the leadership of a Latin American country, that once served as a safe-haven for Holocaust survivors and that still boasts a sizeable Jewish community, has taken a wrong turn into fostering hatred, prejudice and bigotry while supporting countries and groups who call for Israel's total destruction."
Rehashing stereotypes and demonizing Israel
Chavez and his government have resorted to implicit and explicit anti-Semitic displays, including rehashing the ancient canard of Jewish control, blaming Israel and the Jews for the world's problems, and adopting anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish financial influence.
Recently, in a series of public statements on Israel's war with Hizbullah, Chavez repeatedly compared Israel to the Nazis and Hitler, and in speaking to his own people he has on at least one occasion dabbled in classical anti-Semitic canards:
Allying with radical Islam
Chavez has strengthened and formed new alliances with extreme leaders in the Middle East, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hizbullah 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.
During the 2006 conflict in Lebanon, the Venezuelan National Assembly and various Venezuelan states issued a number of one-sided declarations against Israel. Chavez was very aggressive in condemning Israel's actions against Hizbullah, recalling his charge d'affaires from Israel and threatening to sever diplomatic relations.
Anti-Semitism is routinely found in Venezuela's government-sponsored press, with stereotypical descriptions and caricatures of Jews and anti-Israel invective appearing in opinion pieces and editorial cartoons.
Printed by permission of the Anti-Defamation League, the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.