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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

ADL: Chavez's Anti-Semitism

The National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman public an article toda where he accusses Hugo Chavez of attack Jewish Community in Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his followers have sought to harass and intimidate the Catholic Church, the media, university students, political opponents and multinational companies doing business in Venezuela, to name just a few targets. Thus it can hardly come as a surprise that Chávez would also attack the Jewish community. Indeed, it's an old, old story.

The point, of course, is to bully and discredit institutions that have existed and thrived for years in Venezuela. Perhaps because of their vitality and independence, Chávez sees them as an intolerable threat.

The Venezuelan president has, of course, already turned public institutions into pawns of his regime. His political party controls the legislature, the vast majority of local governments, the trade unions and the electoral commission. Chávez has undermined the independence of the judiciary, sought enactment of laws to allow the government to dominate the broadcast media, and generally used his power to intimidate opponents and stifle dissent.

The rising wave of anti-Semitism in Venezuela is part and parcel of this effort by Chávez's increasingly repressive regime. The complex housing the Jewish community school and cultural and sports center has been inexplicably raided twice by Venezuelan police since Chávez came to power. It is especially dangerous when law enforcement carries out these kinds of unfounded acts, since some may interpret them as justification to commit violence against Jews. When a community is singled out and bullied in this way, the danger exists for xenophobes and anti-Semites to take license from the government's actions to spread their hate.


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