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Why Jews Are Fleeing Venezuela

Government anti-Semitism, Chávez style.

12:05 PM, Feb 28, 2012 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
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* Roughly a year later, Chávez described Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip (Operation Cast Lead) as a “genocidal holocaust against the Palestinian people,” and he made a big show of expelling the Israeli ambassador, Shlomo Cohen, one of the most able Israeli diplomats in Latin America.

* A few weeks after Cohen’s expulsion, armed intruders robbed and vandalized the Mariperez synagogue in Caracas, leaving behind a number anti-Semitic graffiti messages, including “Jews out of here.”

* In June 2010, after Israeli troops forcibly boarded a Turkish flotilla headed for Gaza, Chávez blasted “the terrorist and criminal nature of Israel’s government.” Speaking on Venezuelan television, he unleashed a ferocious rhetorical assault, which is quoted by Fishbane: “I take this opportunity to condemn once again, from the depth of my soul and from my guts, the state of Israel. Damn the state of Israel! Maldito sea! Terrorists and assassins!”

* That same month, Chávez met with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in Venezuela and once again described the Israeli government as “genocidal.”

The mass emigration of Jews from Venezuela is tragically similar to what happened in the Caribbean half a century ago. According to Cuba expert Irving Louis Horowitz, a remarkable 90 percent of Cuban Jews fled the island shortly after Castro took power. For decades to come, Havana would faithfully parrot the steady stream of anti-Semitic propaganda emanating from Moscow. As Horowitz explains, “The Soviets provided Cuba with the model of attacking human rights activities and organizations as a necessary extension of the Jewish Zionist conspiracy.” For that matter, Castro hosted the 1966 Tricontinental Conference, which arguably launched the modern era of international terrorism, and he spent many years aiding Yasser Arafat’s PLO.

The anti-Semitism of the Bolivarian Revolution has been inspired not only by Castro, but also by Iran, which now enjoys a robust alliance with Venezuela. It is much more serious than Chávez’s ordinary propaganda. Indeed, back in February 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights published a report warning that government anti-Semitism “constitutes a threat to the life and physical integrity of the Jewish community in Venezuela.” That threat deserves greater attention from the United States. As Capriles grows more and more popular, it’s only going to get worse.

Jaime Daremblum, who served as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.

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