“Chavez wants all the Jews to leave — that would make him and his friends very happy.”
Claims of State-Sponsored Antisemitism Abound
By Alan Simons
MAY 1, 2010 – Tamika Thompson is a freelance journalist, blogger and online content producer based in Los Angeles. Yesterday, on the PBS Tavis Smiley web site, she posted the following report:
A colleague of mine — Jennifer London — who works as a freelance correspondent filing stories for CBS, CNN, TruTV and World Report on HDNet, filled me in on a story that she’s been working on for 6 months. It’s an investigation into claims of government sponsored anti-Semitism in Venezuela that led London and her producer, Nora Zimmett, to the capital city of Caracas.
I asked London to give me a little more background on her reporting of the story, [the full story will air in the USA and Canada this Tuesday, May 4, on HDNet’s World Report] especially since it was on a topic that I was not familiar with.
A preview of London’s report, “Chavez’s War Against the Jews” can now be seen on the jewishinfoNews >>> video site. Click here to watch it.
This is what London told Thompson:
The Jewish community here [Venezuela] says they have been attacked, threatened and constantly harassed by their own government — more than half of the Jewish population has fled the country because of what they say is a hostile and dangerous environment fostered by Hugo Chavez.
Those who have chosen to stay say they live in constant fear. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has placed Venezuela on a watch list where religious freedom is being threatened, and the Organization for American States has denounced the attacks and threats against the Jews.
What surprised me most during our time in Caracas was the willingness of the Jewish community to speak candidly about what’s happening — sure some were afraid to speak on camera for fear of the government, but many invited us into their homes, their schools, their synagogues and opened their hearts to us.
What is so painful about the current situation, for many, is that during World War II Venezuela was a safe haven for Jews fleeing Europe and now they don’t feel welcome anymore. One woman told me she believes Chavez wants all the Jews to leave — “that would make him and his friends very happy,” she told me.
What did not surprise me was the government’s reaction to claims of state-sponsored anti-Semitism. After trying for months to get an interview with Chavez or someone in his government, we were finally granted an interview (on our last full day in Caracas) with Roya Daza of the National Assembly.
He was extremely defensive during the interview and told me not only is there no government sponsored anti-Semitism in Venezuela but there is no anti-Semitism at all, anywhere in the country and “it’s absurd that we even talk about this.”
When I asked him why there is anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of one of the largest synagogues in Caracas, he threatened to stop the interview.
Today, anti-Semitic graffiti is still visible on the walls of La Francia — a building that housed businesses primarily run by Jews. In February of this year, Chavez seized the building and shutdown all the businesses. We went undercover with a small handy-cam to film the building and graffiti and in a matter of minutes were stopped by Chavez supporters.
For a number of years jewishinfoNews >>> has regularly reported on Chavez’s down-right love affair with Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah, Hamas and Belarus. In April 2009, Venezuela established diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority.
And one year earlier, jewishinfoNews >>> published an article by the noted Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo, now living the USA, who revealed that Venezuela was recruiting its youth for training by Hezbollah.
All of this doesn’t bode well for the Jews of Venezuela whose history dates back to the middle of the 17th Century. In 2009, The Jerusalem Post reported that the Venezuelan Jewish community is currently down to 9,000 members.
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