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.


Scientists develop technique to knock out superbugs

October 6, 2010

By Abigail Klein Leichman
It’s the fight of the century: in one corner, the bacteria known as “superbugs,” and in the other corner the antibacterial drugs known as antibiotics. In bout after bout, newer and stronger superbugs are besting the antibiotics. And that alarms public health officials across the world, because drug-resistant bacteria cause infections – especially in already ill hospital patients — that are fatal 30 to 60 percent of the time.“Trying to keep pace with these ‘superbugs’ means always pulling out a new rabbit from the hat and using it for the next few years till there is another explosion of strains capable of overcoming it,” says Dr. Micha Fridman of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Chemistry. “This is a constant battle that I believe is never going to end.”
While scientists in Europe and North America continue the spiral of producing more powerful antibiotics to fight ever more powerful bacteria, Fridman and his University of Michigan research partner approached the problem from a different angle – one that uses the superbug’s own mechanics to develop antibiotics capable of delivering a decisive knockout punch.
Instead of looking for yet another “rabbit,” Fridman and Prof. Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova and their research teams studied exactly how bacteria resist antibiotics. One method involves a protein or enzyme “machine” inside them that modifies the drugs.
Fridman explains this phenomenon to ISRAEL21C with the analogy of a key and keyhole. “There’s a keyhole in the door, and the door doesn’t want you to open it, so it somehow changes the keyhole and then you cannot push in the key,” he says.
As soon as a superbug’s “machine” recognizes the antibacterial “key,” it confounds the drug with a deactivating molecule. This additional molecule renders the antibiotic unable to reach its target.
The scientists described in the current issue of the journal ChemBioChem how they isolated the “machines” from superbugs. Then they chemically induced them to add a molecule that strengthens, rather than weakens, the antibiotic. Once an activating molecule is added, the superbug’s machine is incapable of adding a deactivating one.
In other words, Fridman and Garneau-Tsodikova found a way to beat the bacteria at its own game. Their lab-induced chemical alteration increases the antibacterial drug’s ability to fight bacteria and – most importantly — locks out the deactivating molecule that is the secret of the superbug’s winning strategy.
Dr. Micha Fridman and his research team
Dr. Micha Fridman and his research team at the eighth meeting of the Section of Medicinal Chemistry of the Israel Chemical Society.
“Any sort of bacteria that uses this specific machine would not be able to deactivate antibiotics anymore,” Fridman tells ISRAEL21c.
Potential antibiotics enhanced by the duo’s discovery are a few years away from the market, since the full process of testing and government approvals is long and tedious – and only then can pharmaceutical companies begin mass-producing the drugs. But it is generating considerable interest, because the ability to beat bacterial resistance has become one of the holy grails in health care.
Other scientists are working on it, too. A three-year consortium of 14 European institutes was established in February 2009 to study the biology of drug-resistant bacteria and design novel strategies to kill them. And it was recently reported that a UK scientist has isolated a toxin from cockroaches that may hold promise in the superbug war.
In the meantime, hospitals worldwide are focusing more on prevention than treatment as existing antibiotics constantly lose effectiveness. Resistant bacteria have been reported by hospitals in at least 35 states of the United States, and cause deaths worldwide. In August, an outbreak at University College London Hospital killed one premature baby and sickened 12 others. Ironically, one of the most recent superbug battles took place right in Tel Aviv, where a hospital outbreak was traced to a patient visiting from New Jersey.
Tel Aviv is also where Fridman’s approach will soon be put to the test against many different problematic bacterial strains, at Ichilov Hospital-Sourasky Medical Center. This kind of study is tricky to carry out, said Fridman, because special equipment and procedures must be in place to safely deal with these dangerous superbugs.
The family of antibiotics his team chose to engineer is the one used commonly to treat respiratory infections in people with cystic fibrosis. “We do hope that some of the advances based on our methodologies can cope with this because it can be very lethal,” says Fridman.
He and Garneau-Tsodikova, who met at Harvard Medical School during their post-doctoral studies, financed their research with a two-year grant from BIRD, the Israel-US Binational Science Foundation and have applied for renewal.
“She sends students to me, I send students to her, and we are in touch through email and three times a week on Skype. We always write to each other about every single finding we have,” he says. They also visit periodically; Garneau-Tsodikova is due for a visit to Israel in January..