web analytics
June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Chavez and the Jews: A Sorry Tale


Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez

Like one of those telenovelas that are so popular on Latin American television stations, the slow yet inexorable deterioration of Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, has been soaked in drama and cloying sentimentality.

For almost two years, Chavez has been fighting cancer. And for most of that time he has been claiming – falsely – to have been cured. But less than two months after winning a fourth term in last October’s election, Chavez was spirited back to Cuba, where Fidel Castro’s doctors have been treating him.

Chavez’s vice president and designated successor, Nicolas Maduro, is urging the Venezuelan people to pray for Chavez’s recovery. Maduro knows, though, that the end is nigh and that Venezuela consequently stands on the cusp of a political crisis.

If Chavez was unable to make his presidential inauguration on Thursday this week, a constitutional requirement for elections within 30 days will have kicked in. However, infighting in the Chavez camp, as well as an understandable reluctance on the part of the country’s opposition to fight an election campaign that will be dominated by Chavez’s legacy, doesn’t bode well for elections in the near term.

The current situation affords the opportunity for a critical reassessment of the Chavez era. In his 14 years in power, Chavez turned Venezuela into the Latin American hub of a global network of anti-American, authoritarian rogue states. There is scarcely a fellow dictator he didn’t befriend. Some, like the Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein, are no longer with us. Others – among them the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; the Belarussian president, Alexander Lukashenko; the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad; and the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe – remain alive and in power.

The closest relationship of all is the one forged with the Castro brothers in Cuba, Fidel and Raul, whose ailing economy is kept afloat by heavily subsidized oil from Venezuela, which is Latin America’s biggest producer.

With allies like these, it should come as no surprise that Chavez became an arch-foe of the state of Israel. In one of the last foreign policy statements he made before returning to the hospital in Cuba in December, Chavez denounced what he called the “savage” Israeli attack on Gaza. In 2009, on the previous occasion that Israel responded militarily to Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, Chavez told the French newspaper Le Figaro that the Israel had launched a “genocide” against the Palestinians.

“The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians,” he said. “They’re doing it openly.”

Such incendiary statements won Chavez the admiration of the Arab street. In 2006, during the conflict between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon, the Arab satellite network Al Jazeera praised Chavez for beating Arab leaders to the punch when he became the first head of state to condemn Israel’s actions. Similar gasps of admiration greeted his decision to expel the Israeli ambassador to Caracas in 2009.

In attacking Israel, though, Chavez inadvertently undermined the arguments of those who say anti-Zionism is one thing, anti-Semitism something else entirely. In many ways, Chavez’s attitude to Israel mirrored that of the Soviet Union. Just as the USSR marked its own Jews out as a fifth column during its decades-long propaganda campaign against Zionism, so did Chavez.

Before Chavez came to power in 1999, there were 30,000 Jews in Venezuela. Now that population has dwindled to fewer than 9,000. Venezuela’s Jews had experienced virtually no anti-Semitism in their history, but the Chavez years ushered in a set of new and frightening experiences for them, from cartoons in the press that could have been lifted from the notorious Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer to the vandalism of the main synagogue in Caracas in 2009.

As a depressing summary by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism noted last September, “Recent years have witnessed a rise in anti-Semitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions.”

Members of the Venezuelan opposition I’ve spoken with over the last year have all remarked on the virulence of Chavez’s anti-Semitism. In 2012, Israel was temporarily displaced by the emergence of a domestic Jewish target in the form of the rival presidential candidate to Chavez, the youthful and energetic Henrique Capriles. While Capriles is a practicing Catholic, his mother’s family, the Radonskis, arrived in Venezuela after surviving the Holocaust in Poland. Other members of the family perished in Nazi concentration camps.

About the Author: Ben Cohen is the Shillman Analyst for JNS.org and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Haaretz, and other publications. His book “Some Of My Best Friends: A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Antisemitism” (Edition Critic, 2014), is available through Amazon.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Chavez and the Jews: A Sorry Tale”

  1. I pray that Venezuela will have a complete recovery from the illness of Anti-Semitism.

  2. Well, leave it to haven, he got what he deserved and I hope he suffers, thanks for the article.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Terror Attack near Shvut Rachel
Bad Terror Attack Near Shvut Rachel
Latest Indepth Stories
Menachem Zivotofsky sued the U.S. government because the U.S. refused to include "Israel" alongside "Jerusalem" as the place of his birth on his passport. So far the courts have sided with the government.

The problem with US treatment of Israel did not start with Obama but with birth of Jewish State

Activists on the Marianne boat that the IDF made sure to arrive in Ashdod instead of Gaza.

The pathetic failure of the Marianne to reach Gaza is the best thing that has happened to Israel since Hamas mis-fired a rocket on its own civilians.

Pres. Rivlin and PM Netanyahu with the justices of the Supreme Court

Wonder why Israel has the world’s most insane rules of engagement imposed on its military? Read on..

obamatargetiran

Think political Islam’s a problem now just wait until an Islamist nuclear umbrella covers the region

Fiorina’s wrong about Islam which embraces our death&destruction confusing pc theories for hard fact

Bangladesh PM Hasina is fighting terror not only for her nation but for the entire civilized world.

No necessity to redefine marriage, just address equal rights for couples in non-nuclear families

PM Netanyahu has pledged the nation won’t rest until the hero Eli Cohen is returned home to Israel

“Palestinian armed groups” & “local authorities” are named in the report; Hamas’ absence stands out

Dating apps have really changed the way many young Jews approach dating.

The families of those slain even publicly forgave the murderer. Charleston was serene and at peace.

Changing plans needn’t be a frustrating experience. Sometimes the new path proves far more rewarding

Seventy-one members of the Assembly, including Glen Cove Assemblyman Chuck Lavine, who heads the New York chapter of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, joined in the effort to secure a majority to protect the rights of Jewish voters.

Students in New York City schools are protected by publicly funded security guards, so it would seem a no-brainer that students attending non-public schools be similarly protected.

More Articles from Ben Cohen
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reviewing one of Iran's nuclear plants.

The Middle East has rapidly changed for the worse the past five years. The worst may be yet come.

Cohen-020615

UN Amb Prosor: Anti-Semitism “can even be found in the halls of UN disguised as umanitarian concern”

The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”

The coalition the US has assembled to fight ISIS is based on an immediate coincidence of interest.

A growing chorus of influential voices is arguing that Israel needs to finish the job in Gaza.

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

As of this moment, the Kurds have little reason to hold back from declaring independence.

While Jews are just one percent of the French population, 40 percent of French racist assaults target Jews.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/chavez-and-the-jews-a-sorry-tale/2013/01/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: