Venezuela’s Jewish Community Sees “Dark Horizon”

One of the interesting diplomatic cables that have come to light through Wikileaks relates to Venezuelan Jews. Dated in November 2009, it reports on a meeting with the Board of Directors of the Confederacion de Asociaciones Israelitas Venezolanas (CAIV). The cable’s theme is the growing anti-Semitism of Hugo Chavez’s socialist regime and the concern of Venezuelan Jews that Chavez’s alliance with Iran presages Iran-style treatment of Venezuela’s small but prominent Jewish minority. Here are some excerpts:

Jewish community leaders told PolCouns the Venezuelan government’s (GBRV’s) attacks and “double-talk,” constant criticism of Israel, growing alliance with Iran, and increasing limitations on freedom of speech contribute to a heightened sense of vulnerability by the Jewish community. …
Given the ongoing sense of threat, CAIV members agreed on the need for close
relations with the U.S. and other Embassies as a form of diplomatic protection for the Jewish community.

One wonders, during the Obama administration, how realistic that hope is.

XXXXXXXXXXXX said “2004 was a turning point in Venezuela,” when Chavez began referring to support of certain Jewish leaders for the 2002 post-coup government as justification for verbal and physical attacks against the Jewish community and synagogues.
XXXXXXXXXXXX said anti-Semitic programs and articles have been regular features of government-owned media since 2004, and “international anti-Jewish campaigns have been tailored for use domestically.” XXXXXXXXXXXX emphasized that the anti-Semitism is “government-sponsored.” He noted that Emilio Silva, the author of a January 20 article on the government website which called for violent demonstrations at the Tiferet synagogue just 10 days before the synagogue was attacked, is still teaching at the pro-government Bolivarian University of Venezuela.

Government-incited violence against Jews: Venezuela is devolving into a horrific blend of 30s National Socialism and contemporary Islamic extremism. One wonders whether the Obama administration has noticed.

CAIV continues to be in weekly contact with senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Temir Porras, and occasionally meets with Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicolas Maduro; they last met with him three months ago. They noted the irony of having the Foreign Ministry, rather than the Interior Ministry, as their designated GBRV interlocutor, which emphasizes the GBRV’s view of the Jewish community as “foreign” rather than Venezuelan. While Chavez’s rhetoric once clearly differentiated criticism of Israel from that of the Venezuelan Jewish community, since 2004 they believe he has merged his anti-Zionist views with anti-Semitic ones.
The CAIV leadership was also very concerned about the growing relationship between Iran and Venezuela. XXXXXXXXXXXX thinks the GBRV “wants to use the treatment of the Jewish community in Iran as a model” for Venezuela, and there was widespread agreement among CAIV leaders that President Chavez’s close alliance with Iranian President Ahmadinejad did not bode well for the Venezuelan Jewish community. Many members expressed deep concern about Iranian activities in the country, citing the lack of transparency at the international Maiquetia airport in Caracas on flights to and from Iran and the suspiciously inefficient Iranian factories for bicycles. “What are these factories really producing?” asked one CAIV member.

Too bad Wikileaks can’t answer that question. Maybe next time Mr. Assange can try to get some secret documents from Iran or Venezuela.

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