Hugo Chavez's Jewish Problem

[Commentary] Travis Pantin - Hugo Chavez is in possession of the largest proven oil reserves of any country in the Western hemisphere. At current production levels and prices Venezuela's oil revenues may top $250 million daily. He has aligned his government with regimes and terror groups that would otherwise seem to hold little attraction for a Spanish-speaking South American country. These include Libya, Syria, Hizbullah, and Hizbullah's patron Iran. Virtually alone among world leaders, Chavez is an impassioned defender of Tehran's right to pursue nuclear technology. There is something else, aside from simple anti-Americanism, at work in Chavez's foreign policy. Since he took office in 1999, there has been an unprecedented surge in anti-Semitism throughout Venezuela. Government-owned media outlets have published anti-Semitic tracts with increasing frequency. Pro-Chavez groups have publicly disseminated copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Prominent Jewish figures have been publicly denounced for supposed disloyalty to the "Bolivarian" cause, and "Semitic banks" have been accused of plotting against the regime. Venezuela's Jewish community, amounting to less than one percent of the country's total population of 26 million, is among the oldest in South America, dating back to the early 19th century. One-third of Venezuela's Jews have fled the country by now, and those who remain are in a state ranging from discomfiture to terror.

2008-07-15 01:00:00

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