CHAVEZ STEPS UP ATTACKS ON JEWS Tim Mack, The New Majority (hat tip Rut)
From the beginning of his rule in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has stridently criticized Israel. In recent months, Chavez has found a more vulnerable target: the Jewish population inside Venezuela.
Last week, an angry mob broke out in Miranda, Venezuela’s second largest state. Reports indicate that the Mayor of Miranda’s capital city incited an angry group of Chavez supporters to paint Nazi swastikas on the home of an anti-Chavez Jewish politician, Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski. “We are showing Capriles that …people are opposed to his continuous attacks against the initiatives and socialist projects of president Chávez,” explained Los Teques Mayor Alirio Mendoza. Governor Radonski is a charismatic Chavez opponent, and has spent time in jail for a minor role in Venezuela’s failed coup of 2004. Further, since he is perhaps the only well-known Jewish politician in the country, it is easy to understand why he has become a prime target for irate Chavistas.
Anti-semitic graffiti on the walls of the Tiferet Israel Synagogue in Caracas.
These incidents follow a trend of anti-Semitic behavior that has strikingly worsened since the beginning of the year. In January 2009, Chavez accused Israel of attempting to carry out “genocide” against the Palestinian people and expelled Israel’s ambassador. Soon thereafter, a pro-Chavez columnist named Emilio Silva posted on a pro-government website urging Venezuelans to “publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park, shouting slogans in favor of Palestine and against that abortion: Israel.” A week later, a group of at least a dozen men raided the aforementioned Tiferet Israel Synagogue, vandalizing property and spraying the words ‘Jews, get out!’ on the walls. In February, someone threw a hand grenade at another synagogue, damaging it.
The hand grenade incident jolted world attention, and seemed to have persuaded Chavez to draw back for a time. For a short period, it seemed like there might be some cause for optimism. A month ago, an American resolution calling on Venezuela to “protect the rights of the Jewish Venezuelan community” was withdrawn after several Jewish Congressmen and the American Jewish Congress came out against it. Apparently, those who opposed the resolution feared that such legislation could prove to be counterproductive. In justifying his organization’s opposition to the resolution, Confederation of Israelite Associations Venezuela (CAIV) spokesman David Bittan was quoted as saying that the number of anti-Semitic articles in Venezuelan media decreased by 60% in the weeks after the grenade attack. Yet, this optimism turned out to be slightly misguided. As international pressure dissipated, the regime seems to have resumed its anti-Jewish actions, leading to the mob in Miranda and the vandalism in Caracas.
While most would agree that the rise in anti-Semitism is driven by Chavez’s need to scapegoat a minority group for his own disappointing record of achievement in power, a secondary motive is his desire to ingratiate himself with his most important international ally, Iran. As Forbes’ Venezuelan commentators note in a piece on this topic, “Chavez and Iran speak with one voice about the Jews.” Lacking positive results to show their people, both autocratic regimes benefit from a coordinated effort of propaganda that blames Jews for domestic issues and foments anti-Semitic violence and vandalism.
And Obama, of course, rewards such depravity.
US and Venezuela to restore ties Al Jazeera (hat tip Robert)
The United States and Venezuela are to reinstate ambassadors to Caracas and Washington, setting aside a diplomatic spat that soured ties last year.
Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, who had been a fierce critic of Washington, met Barack Obama, his US counterpart, for the first time at a Trinidad summit in April.
Chavez said then he hoped to begin a "new era" in relations between the two countries, which have often feuded over Washington's role in Latin America.
The news of the restoration of Venezuela-US ties came as a US official confirmed that Washington planned to reappoint an ambassador to Damascus after a four-year absence.