Playing the Venezuelan Anti-Semitism Card
Playing the Venezuelan Anti-Semitism Card
by Stephen Lendman
Throughout his tenure, Washington officials vilified Chavez unjustifiably. So did media scoundrels.
He was America top hemispheric enemy. Donald Rumsfeld once likened him to Hitler. Pat Robertson called for his assassination. Anti-semitism accusations surfaced often.
His December 2005 Christmas Eve address was held against him. He said nothing offensive. His comments were maliciously taken the wrong way. He said:
"The world is for all of us, then, but it so happens that a minority, the descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ, the descendants of the same ones that kicked Bolivar out of here and also crucified him in their own way over there in Santa Marta, in Colombia."
"A minority has taken possession of all the wealth of the world. A minority has taken ownership of all of the gold of the planet, of the silver, of the minerals, the waters, the good lands, oil, of the wealth, and have concentrated the wealth in a few hands."
"Less than 10 percent of the population of the world owns more than half of the wealth of the world, more than the population of the planet is poor, and each day there are more poor people in the whole world."
Days later, the Simon Wisenthal Center played the anti-Semitism card. It demanded an apology. Media scoundrels piled on.
Weekly Standard contributor Aaron Mannes said "Hugo Chavez veers into anti-Semitism while explaining how to create a workers' paradise."
The Wall Street Journal's Mary O'Grady called Chavez's address an "ugly anti-Semitic swipe." It followed "an insidious assault over the past several years on the country's Jewish community."
She spuriously claimed "heavily armed Chavez commandos raided a Caracas Jewish school, terrifying children and parents."
It was "part of (his) political strategy of fomenting class hatred - an agenda that finds a vulnerable target in the country's Jewish minority." Saying so turned truth on its head.
The Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) responded to baseless Simon Wiesenthal accusations. Former president Fred Pressner said:
"You have acted on your own, without consulting us, on issues that you don't know or understand."
"We believe the president was not talking about Jews, and that the Jewish world must learn to work together."
Separately he said no anti-Semitic violence was committed against Venezuela's Jewish community. Claims otherwise are canards. Chavista anti-imperialism is misportrayed as government-sponsored anti-Semitism.
Anti-Defamation League demagoguery is longstanding. It's notorious. It played the Venezuelan anti-Semitism card numerous times. It's on the rise, it claimed. Chavez scapegoats Jews for political advantage.
It alleged "classical anti-Semitism" ahead of 2006 Venezuelan presidential elections." It repeated false charges after the 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre. It did so many other times.
Ahead of October 2012 elections, it claimed Chavez tried to portray opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski "as being tainted by his Jewish lineage." He did no such thing.
Capriles is a self-professed Catholic. He's the son of Jewish holocaust survivors. Chavez mocked no one's religion. He justifiably condemned Israeli crimes. He did so many times.
He maintained cordial relations with Caracas Jewish community leaders. In 2008, Latin American Jewish Congress president Jack Terpins said:
"The Jewish community is more at ease now with President Hugo Chavez, who demonstrated that he is a great friend of the Jewish community and who wants to fight anti-Semitism in Latin America."
At the same time, Argentina's US ambassador Hector Timerman said Chavez works "with (Brazil's Lula and Argentina's Kirchner) to achieve total eradication of anti-Semitism in Latin America."
"This is a gesture that speaks about the leadership and opinions of President Chavez regarding the need to end all types of discrimination in our region."
Venezuela's constitution prohibits discrimination. Indigenous rights are guaranteed. So are human rights, peaceful cooperation, participatory democracy, and social justice.
In September 2010, Chavez met with Jewish community representatives. He dispelled alleged hostility, saying:
Opposition forces "tried to wage a little campaign that I'm anti-Jew, an enemy of the Jews."
"The reality is we respect and care about the Jewish community."
Then Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Jewish community relations were in "optimum shape," adding:
"We respect the customs of all our communities and the religious customs of all the groups who, in Venezuela, have freedom of equality."
Venezuelan Jews are largely in Caracas. Some live in Maracaibo. They number around 16,000.
In late January 2009, vandals desecrated a Caracas Sephardic synagogue. They threw sacred scrolls on the floor. They wrote "Death to the Jews" and other anti-Semitic epithets on walls.
They stole artifacts and computer equipment. Media scoundrels linked what happened to strained Venezuelan/Israeli relations post-Cast Lead.
Commentaries suggested official anti-Semitic policy. Chavez was wrongfully criticized. He condemned what happened. He did so publicly.
A Caracas police investigation determined that synagogue fencing was cut from the inside. The attack was robbery. It was disguised as anti-Semitic vandalism.
Private synagogue security team members were arrested. Eleven were charged. They confessed. Desecration and graffiti were meant to deceive.
Anti-Semitism charges surface often. In his book, "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History," Norman Finkelstein said:
"Whenever Israel comes under international pressure to resolve its conflicts with the Palestinians diplomatically or faces a public relations debacle, its apologists mount a campaign alleging that the world is awash in a new anti-Semitism."
On March 5, Chavez died. Maligning him continues. On March 6, JTA (The Global News Service of the Jewish People) headlined, "Long the bane of Venezuelan Jews, Chavez is gone. Now What?"
"For more than a decade, Venezuelan Jews (held) their breath," it claimed. He "used his bully pulpit to intimidate, rail against Israel and embrace Iran."
"While (he) never explicitly threatened the Jews of Venezuela, his frequent harassment and staunchly anti-Israel positions kept them continually on edge."
How JTA didn't explain. It unjustifiably conflated legitimate Israeli criticism with anti-Jewishness. Doing so turns truth on its head.
Ben Cohen did the same thing. He's a New York-based writer. He comments on Jewish and international affairs.
On March 6, his Haaretz article headlined "Will Venezuelan anti-Semitism die with Hugo Chavez," saying:
"Under Chavez, Venezuela became a source of incendiary anti-Israel rhetoric that spilled over into open hostility towards the dwindling Venezuelan Jewish community, and his successors seem likely to continue to stoke anti-Semitism as a useful political tool."
Will "Jew-baiting" persist or subside, he asked? "(T)here is little reason for optimism on this front," he claimed.
Anti-Chavismo US Zionist organizations say so. They wrongfully maligned Chavez throughout his tenure.
According to Cohen, "anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (were) critical element(s) of the Chavez regime's bid to become the ideological center of the world's radical states."
"Chavistas….may decide that lowering the volume on anti-Jewish rhetoric is, for the time being, a compromise too far."
Haaretz knows better. Yet it published what demands condemnation. A follow-up report was no better.
On March 29, it headlined "Leaked Documents: Venezuelan intelligence spying on local Jewish community."
"Venezuelan agents follow, photograph and keep track of the movements of various leaders and rabbis of the local Jewish community, as well as collect information on them, their activaties and their meetings."
They're "working on the assumption that the country's Jews are the bridgehead for attempts by the United States, Israel, to destabilize the country."
Alleged leaked documents were published. Unnamed Buenos Aires "experts" claim they're credible.
"(M)any fear an outbreak of violent anti-Semitic acts directed by the government to use Jews as scapegoats."
It bears repeating. Former Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) president Fred Pressner says no anti-Semitic violence was committed against Venezuela's Jewish community. It wasn't earlier. There's none now.
Venezuela has justifiable national security concerns. Washington destabilization efforts continue. They persisted throughout Chavez's tenure.
They're allied with hostile internal right-wing elements. Evidence suggests Mossad's involved. CIA operatives infest Venezuela. America's Caracas embassy is a hotbed of anti-Chavista subversion.
Failure to take protective measures would be irresponsible. Credible evidence warrants police searches. National intelligence operatives try to prevent trouble before it erupts.
Groups aren't targeted for being Jewish. Anti-Semitic accusations don't wash. Repeating them is irresponsible. Why Haaretz did so, it must explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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