Venezuelan Jews Fear Growing Government Sponsored Anti-Semitism
Venezuelan Jews, long uneasy with the Chávez government’s alliances with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries that espouse anti-Israel views, are concerned that the government is sponsoring anti-Semitism in this hemisphere, a prominent journalist said Tuesday.
“The situation we have now in Venezuela is that for the first time in modern history we have government-sponsored anti-Semitism in a Western country,” said Sammy Eppel. “That is why this is very dangerous, not just for the Jewish community in Venezuela but for the Jewish community as a whole.”
Among the examples offered by Eppel:
Venezuelan government intelligence services twice have raided the country’s most important Jewish center in a vague, ultimately unsuccessful search for weapons. Publications of the government’s cultural ministry run articles entitled “the Jewish Question,” along with a Jewish star superimposed over a swastika.
These examples, according to Eppel, an analyst and journalist who has written for El Universal and El Mundo, among other publications, are evidence of a pattern of official intimidation against the country’s fast-dwindling Jewish population. Many of them have resettled in South Florida since President Hugo Chávez’s rise.
About 30 people attended Eppel’s presentation Tuesday, sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League at the Aventura Chabad. Many of the examples were excerpts from government-linked media.
One 2006 article in El Diario de Caracas debates whether it will be necessary to “expel [the Jews] from the country.” Another article in the Diario VEA accuses Jews of being involved in the murder of a government prosecutor.
Chavez lashed out at an American Jewish group of joining a Washington-backed smear campaign against him in 2006.