Gaza spurs Latin Amer­i­can fears

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - bY david labi Buenos aires

Is­rael’s Gaza op­er­a­tion has led to a rise in an­tisemitism in latin amer­ica and fresh fears for the safety of Venezue­lanJews,ac­cord­ing­toapromi­nent­latin amer­i­can Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tion.

In an open let­ter, the Con­fed­eración lati­noamer­i­cana Mac­cabi (ClaM) has ex­pressed grave con­cerns over a new wave of an­tisemitism in Venezuela, prompted by events in Gaza.

The let­ter states: “since the events in Gaza be­gan… the gov­ern­ment of Venezuela has adopted an ag­gres­sive and danger­ous tone never pre­vi­ously heard, clearly in­cit­ing against the Jewish com­mu­nity… Fur­ther­more, there is a well-or­ches­trated cam­paign on TV, ra­dio, print and in­ter­net me­dia owned by the gov­ern­ment, openly ques­tion­ing Is­rael’s right to ex­ist, even in­clud­ing pub­li­ca­tion of such an­ti­semitic ma­te­ri­als as The Pro­to­cols of the el­ders of zion. a group of pro-gov­ern­ment jour­nal­ists is urg­ing the pop­u­la­tion to boy­cott busi­nesses owned by Jews.”

Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Hugo Chávez’s al­liance with Iran, sup­port for Hizbol­lah and Ha­mas and his­tory of ex­treme state­ments have made him a fig­ure of con­cern for the 25,000-strong Jewish com­mu­nity since his 1998 elec­tion. early in the Gaza of­fen­sive, he ex­pelled the Is­raeli am­bas­sador and re­ferred to the Gaza at­tack as a “Holo­caust”.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the anti-Defama­tion league his po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing is now “spilling over” into everyday so­ci­ety in the form of an­ti­semitic graf­fiti and vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions.

ser­gio Wid­der, head of the Wiesen­thal Cen­tre’s latin amer­ica branch, cor­rob­o­rates this view. ClaM’s as­ser­tions of an or­ches­trated an­ti­semitic me­dia cam­paign in­clud­ing the boy­cott call are cur­rently be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Wiesen­thal Cen­tre.

Iron­i­cally, on De­cem­ber 18, Pres­i­dent Chávez — along with Pres­i­dents luíz Ina­cio lula da silva of Brazil and Christina Fer­nan­dez de Kirch­ner of ar­gentina — signed a dec­la­ra­tion against an­tisemitism, in­tol­er­ance and racism.

This was wel­comed as “im­por­tant” by World Jewish Congress Pres­i­dent ron­ald s lauder. But gen­eral vi­o­lence on the ground seems to be in­creas­ing.

last week, there was an an­gry protest in Buenos aires, in­clud­ing daub­ing of an­ti­semitic graf­fiti out­side the of­fice of ed­uardo elzs­tain, ar­gentina’s most prom­i­nent Jewish busi­ness­man and the new WJC chair­man. ar­gen­tinian an­tisemitism, how­ever, is con­demned by the gov­ern­ment, whereas in Venezuela, ac­cord­ing to ClaM’s open let­ter, “the Gov­ern­ment makes no ef­fort to stop it”.

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