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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crude anti-semitism in Venezuela politics

From The Sun:
It’s hard to imagine how the apologists for Hugo Chavez of Venezuela are going to manage to put the gloss on the attacks being made by his regime on the new figure emerging in the opposition, Henrique Capriles Radonski. Mr. Capriles is a Catholic whose maternal grandparents were Jews from Poland. He is emerging as a challenger to succeed the cancer-ridden president. But now Mr. Capriles, governor of the state of Miranda, is being made the target of the kind of crude anti-Semitism that one normally associates with an earlier time.

A broadcast called “The Enemy Is Zionism” on the main and official government radio station in Caracas said that Mr. Capriles had worked for private sector firms “linked to the interests of the Zionist bourgeoisie.” It calls him part of a “fascist and paramilitary sect” in which “religious rites were practiced” and plans were laid to attack “everything that did not represent the national Aryan race.” It accused him of covertly representing Zionism, which, it said, “is hiding behind a religious and nationalist discourse” and “is the owner of most financial institutions in the world, controlling almost 80% of the global economy and communications industry almost entirely, while maintaining decision-making positions within the Department of State and European powers.”

The government radio charges that Mr. Capriles recently met with the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela, where, it says, they talked of, among other things, restoring diplomatic relations with Israel. It accuses the confederation of having “no shame” in its pro-Zionist views. Yet it it was only a year or so ago that Mr. Chavez and his mentor, Fidel Castro, were trying to convince the world that they had undergone a change of heart in respect of the Jews. “We respect and love the Jewish people,” Mr. Chavez was quoted by Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic as saying at an international tourism fair at Caracas. Mr. Chavez professed his affection for the Jews shortly after Mr. Goldberg reported on his visit to Cuba, where he got the Cuban leader to chastise President Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust.

At the time — that was in the fall of 2010 — Mr. Goldberg  reported that, according to people he’d been in touch with, Mr. Chavez’s entente was “a direct result of Fidel’s statement.” No doubt he was right about that. But to what — or whom — is one going to attribute the latest government broadcast? “Using anti-Semitism as a political weapon to intimidate, discredit and disparage has been a constant modus operandi by sectors of the Chavista movement,” an official of the American Jewish Committee in Washington, Dina Siegel Vann, is quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying. “We were just waiting for the barrage to start.”
The article goes on to note the link between Venezuela and Iran contributing to this worrying flashback to the 1930s.