Venezuela: Anti-Semitism Keeps Escalating

June 1, 2011

Venezuela.jpgThe Jewish Community Confederation of Venezuela (CAIV) filed a complaint to the Venezuelan attorney general to denounce the promotion of the pamphlet The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by the main state-owned radio.

On April 4, the known radio host of National Venezuelan Radio (NVR), Cristina Gonzalez, in her program ‘La noticia final’ highly recommended that her listeners read the anti-Semitic pamphlet. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fraudulent anti-Semitic text — one of the main proponents of which was Adolf Hitler — that was put into circulation in Russia around the turn of the 20th century by the czarist secret police, with the goal of spreading the idea of world-wide Jewish conspiracy.
During her broadcast, Gonzalez said she admires the Jewish community and the “non-Zionist” Israelis, before illustrating what she called “little pearls” from the Protocols to explain why Zionists have concentrated so much power and wealth. Gonzalez, convinced of the veracity of the Protocols, also suggested that the “Zionists,” because of their alleged control of finance and media, were to blame for recent events in the Middle East.
The CAIV released a statement which stated that the Venezuelan Jews “know that the promotion of this anti-Semitic leaflet only generates hatred and discrimination, therefore violating the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” The Anti Defamation League (ADL) joined in solidarity the CAIV in denouncing the Venezuelan radio host. “President Hugo Chavez has not lived up to his word to denounce anti-Semitism in Venezuela,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL’s National Director. “It is shocking that the Venezuelan state-owned radio would promote the Protocols as if it were an accurate and factual description of Jews, when in fact it is the worst manifestation of conspiratorial anti-Semitism. It is irresponsible for any government to allow its airwaves to be used to promote a conspiratorial anti-Semitic tract used to vilify Jews through history. […] Unfortunately, Gonzalez’s broadcast proves that the twin hatreds of Zionism and Judaism continue to converge and co-mingle in Venezuela.”
In 2009, Chavez severed diplomatic relations with Israel, in protest of the military actions in the Gaza Strip. During the same month, a synagogue in Caracas was vandalized, and swastikas were sprayed on the walls. Later on, authorities arrested eleven people, including eight police officers. A few days later after the act of vandalism, speaking at the World Jewish Congress conference in Jerusalem, Abraham Levy Ben Shimol, president of the Jewish community in Venezuela, accused Chavez of promoting anti-Semitism and giving it legitimacy. As stated by Tel Aviv University’s annual report on anti-Semitism, in Venezuela, “Ant-Semitic allegations are an integral part of the extreme anti-Israel propaganda of governmental and pro-Chavez circles.”
A year later, in 2010, during an interview to the Atlantic magazine, Cuban Leader Fidel Castro said that the Iranian President should stop denying the Holocaust and that the Jews have lived a hard existence. “There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust,” he said. Several days later, Chavez wanted to show himself to be no less than his mentor. On September 8 2010, Chavez said that “We respect and love the Jewish people;” and announced that he wanted to meet with the leaders of the Venezuelan Jewish community, perhaps thinking that this move would improve his political image abroad.
In September 2010, therefore, Chavez met with CAIV’s representatives to discuss their concerns about anti-Semitism in the Venezuelan state media. “We reviewed the negative consequences that hateful expressions can lead to and how they can affect the security and integrity of the institutions and individuals that make up the community of Venezuelan Jews,” the CAIV stated after the meeting. Subsequently, the Jewish confederation said that “there was a noticeable decrease in anti-Semitic rhetoric.” The Chavez government then even decided to increase security at synagogues and Jewish community centers for the Jewish festivities.
However, anti-Semitism seems to be still a tangible phenomenon among government supporters and in the State-controlled media. The Simon Wiesenthal Center called for the Organization of American States (OAS) to intervene against renewed State anti-Semitism in Venezuela. In a letter to OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, Shimon Samuels (Director for International Relations of the Wiesenthal Center) and Sergio Widder (Director for Latin America) wrote that the promotion of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by the Venezuelan radio host is yet another example of Venezuela’s State driven anti-Semitism. “The worsening situation not only endangers Venezuela’s Jews, it violates the delicate fabric of human rights in the Americas,” Samuels and Widder concluded.
The promotion of the Protocols by a Venezuelan state-run media is not an isolated incident. In 2008, a radio host from the same radio station, NVR, said that: “Hitler’s partners were Jews…like the Rockefellers, who were Jews [Editors’ note: The Rockefellers are not Jews]. These were not the Jews murdered in the concentration camps. [Those killed] were working-class Jews, Communist Jews, poor Jews, because the rich Jews were the ones behind the plan to occupy Palestine.” In 2010, the pro-Chavez website Aporrea published an anti-Semitic article echoing the Protocols’ rhetoric: “The essence of Judaism is not to be found in the Pentateuch or in the Torah, but in the realities of capitalism. […] This means that Judaism will reach its end with the advanced realities of communism, in which there won’t be a State, social classes, antagonist contradictions. […] And, most importantly, money and usury, which are at the base of Judaism, will disappear.”
This anti-Semitic propaganda is the core of Chavez’s political thinking and propaganda. It comes as no surprise, then, that the intellectual circle surrounding the Venezuelan president is made by notorious anti-Semitic figures.
One of Chavez’s advisors and close confidantes was Argentinean sociologist, Norberto Ceresole, who passed away in 2003, and was known for being a Holocaust denier. Ceresole’s writings appear to have had a strong influence on Chavez. One of the books that gave the Argentinean sociologist an important standing among pro-Chavez supporters was “The Falsification of Reality,” which claimed that the Holocaust is a “myth,” and that the 1994 bombings in Buenos Aires against the Israeli Embassy and the AMIA were the products of Jewish infighting.
Thus the slander against the Jews continues to escalate – with the complicity of Venezuela’s government.