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As Oil Plunges, Jews the New Scapegoat in Venezuela?

This isn’t what I normally blog about but I think its terribly important that word gets out quickly about what is happening in Venezuela. I was told about this developing situation by my Venezuelan relatives who are trying to get … Read More

By / February 3, 2009

This isn’t what I normally blog about but I think its terribly important that word gets out quickly about what is happening in Venezuela. I was told about this developing situation by my Venezuelan relatives who are trying to get the world to take notice.

This past weekend CNN reported that an armed gang of 15 men broke into Caracas’ largest synagogue — vandalizing and ransacking the place. Horrible, but sadly somewhat commonplace. What is really disturbing is this:

The men stole computers and administrative papers or documents, officials said. They did not cover their faces, but took the recordings from security cameras with them.

As my cousin wrote to me:

Pay special attention to what the perpetrators retrieved from the administrative offices of the synagogue this morning: computer hard drives, containing the database with the names, addresses, of almost every Jewish family in Venezuela. This includes donor lists, member lists, Jewish school lists, many including residences and place of business. This was not an act of common, even professional anti-semitic vandalism. This was a well-planned mission to retrieve the name and address of every Jew in Venezuela. You know what this means. And if you think the Venezuelan government is going to do anything about it, forget about it. With this list in the hands of this highly trained and organized group, every Venezuelan Jew is at risk. This cannot happen again.

The deeper back story is reported here, with much more alarming detail. As Sammy Eppel, a Jewish community leader (member of the CAIV – Confederación Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuela) and columnist from El Universal, says:

I believe that this is the result of the call to action published by the government press,which has been publishing an increasing number of specific anti-Semitic articles over the past few months. The state’s official and unacceptable position of hostility toward the Jewish community dates back to 2004.

The break-in occurred days after the publication of a call to action by a professor at the Venezuelan Bolivarian University against the Jews of Venezuela. Given the fact that an organized gang has now seized the names and address of almost all Venezuelan Jews, the suggestions, which were published in the pro-government digital newspaper Aporrea.org, are even more threatening:

  • "To publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park to take a stand shouting at them slogans in favor of Palestine and against that abortion: Israel."
  • "Denounce publicly, with names and last names the members of powerful Jewish groups present in Venezuela"
  • "…capitalist agents as these Zionist Hebrews are the thing that hurts them most is the pocket (including Jehovah) it is inappropriate to buy their products and go to their stores and to the stores, supermarkets, restaurants, etc., that have relations with them or are owned by them"
  • "…question the existence in Venezuela of educational institutions for Jews only"
  • "…Public, massive, periodic concentrations not only in front of the Israeli embassy but also in front of all Jewish institutions"
  • "Detect and watch, by the intelligence entities of the State and by the social comptroller of the organized peoples, the undercover agents of Mossad and NGOs and other groups of the so called civil society (including the filthy ("escuálidos") students of the private and autonomous universities) that have received advise and financing from the artificial state of israel,"
  • "Purge the government institutions of those filthy officials, that with or without the red beret act in favor of the interests of Zionist groups located in our country."
  • "Nationalization of the companies and confiscation of the assets of the Zionist jews that support the excesses of the nazi fascist state of israel and the immediate donation of said assets to the Palestinians, victims of the present holocaust."

— from ¿Cómo apoyar a Palestina frente al estado artificial de israel? (Translation: How to help Palestine against the artificial state of Israel), January 20, 2009.

On January 18, 2009 the president and secretary general of the Maccabi Latin America Confederation wrote an open letter stating:

…since the events in Gaza that began on December 27 2008, the present government of Venezuela has adopted an aggressive and dangerous tone never previously heard, clearly inciting against the Jewish Community. The Government’s supporters nationwide picked up on the Government’s lead with clearly anti-Semitic expressions — with no effort whatsoever by Government to stop them. The expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador followed, and subsequently, a final breaking off of diplomatic relations.

Furthermore, there is a well-orchestrated campaign on TV, radio, print and Internet media owned by the government, openly questioning Israel’s right to exist, even including publication of such anti-Semitic materials as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A group of pro-government journalists is urging the population to boycott businesses owned by Jews in Venezuela."

You’ve got to wonder. The dramatic decline in price of oil has got to have made life much tougher for Chavez and his government. Could he now be looking for the traditional scapegoat — the Jews — to blame for the challenges Venezuela is about to go through? Let’s hope that the world takes notice and doesn’t wait until it is too late.

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