Monday, February 9, 2009

Venezuela: Isolated incidents or an oncoming wave?

Venezuela has increasingly been in the news recently, first for its oil, then for its relationship with Iran, and now around some troubling events targeting the local Jewish community

A recent Jerusalem Post article reported that

"Under the presidency of Hugo Chavez, the Jewish community of Venezuela has suffered repeated attacks, which were, at least tolerated, if not incited or promoted by State officials," the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Marvin Hier wrote in a letter. "This anti-Semitic campaign increased under the pretext of the recent war between Israel and Hamas."

The largest manifestation of this campaign so far was an incident at a synagogue, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

"About 15 people overpowered two security guards at the Tiferet Israel Synagogue, shattering religious objects and spray-painting "Jews, get out" on the walls.

Most worrisome, according to Elias Farache, president of the Venezuelan-Israelite Association, was their theft of a computer database containing many names and addresses of Jews in Venezuela"

Our own recently reported that 11 people, including 7 police officers were arrested on suspicion of involvement. From the article:
The Attorney General's Office said an agent of the federally controlled investigative police force and one of the synagogue's security guards were among the 11 suspects arrested during raids over the weekend. The suspects are scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

President Hugo Chavez has some level of culpability due to his incendiary anti-Zionist rhetoric. Although he has tried to deny any anti-Jewish sentiment, we don't quite understand where he stands.

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