The Jews in Venezuela Posted by: McQ
on Friday, January 25, 2008
Mona Charen gives us an update on the state of the Jewish community in Venezuela, given the attacks they've undergone in the press by Hugo Chavez and the raids they've undergone recently by Venezuelan police seeking 'subversives':
During the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, Chavez became increasingly shrill, accusing the Israelis of behaving like Nazis. On a recent visit to Washington D.C., Gustavo Aristegui, the shadow foreign minister in Spain's opposition party, told a group at the Hudson Institute that Hamas and Hezbollah are now operating freely in Venezuela. Publications by the government's ministry of culture have featured titles like "The Jewish Question" with cover art showing a Star of David superimposed over a swastika. Jews were accused of complicity in the murder of a prosecutor. An article in a leading newspaper, El Diario de Caracas, asked whether it would become necessary "to expel [the Jews] from the country."
Most recently, as the Forward has reported, Chavez has used the government-run television channel to engage in "lengthy rants about the presence of Mossad agents allegedly in the country working to unseat the Chavez regime with the support of the United States and opposition forces in Venezuela." The program's host interrupted to ask about the loyalty of Jews to Venezuela.
At the start of Chavez's rule, the Jewish community in Venezuela numbered about 30,000. Solid statistics are hard to come by but most estimates now put the number at between 8,000 and 15,000 today. About 50 percent of Venezuela's Jewish community had fled to the country to escape the Nazis during World War II. Neither they nor their children would require much prodding to sense danger. The raids, the propaganda, the hostile press, might have been enough. But then consider this: The man Chavez placed in charge of internal security is one Tarek al Assaimi, son of Saddam Hussein's envoy to Venezuela.
This formulaic and almost predictable occurrence is typical of any totalitarian regime. Such a regime must have both an internal and external enemy on which to focus when (not if) things begin to go wrong. It is a tool as old as totalitarianism and the Jews are the usual victims. Chavez, as should be increasingly clear to even those who used to beam in here to defend him, is nothing more than a thug who will use the power of the state to brutalize whomever he thinks will help him retain power. The sooner he shuffles off the world's stage, the better for everyone.