Venezuela / 21-07-2013
2012 Report regarding antisemitism in Venezuela
The antisemitism report is the only one of all the publications we launch, which stirs emotions within our collective, but we are not interested in viewing it, by way of custom, as an annual or perpetual assignment.
We were unsuccessful in finding a true explanation to the phenomenon of antisemitism which we experience in this country, and which only recently emerged in this form, but with relatively very peculiar characteristics, judging by the national media channels, or in any place where the government hand reaches. The traditional (ideological) affinity with the Arab world (which always existed) cannot provide the answer, but the new geo-political situation of the last ten years, approximately, which is marked, first and foremost, by relations with states like Iran, with whom we have nothing in common as a nation, could, maybe, provide an answer. The position of Venezuela’s National Radio itself, which, in April 2011, openly and publically promoted the antisemitic blasphemous text “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, is one of the most infamous and venomous examples of lack of regulation and supervision by part of the government agencies on this element of Venezuelan media. The only historical example, with the obvious applicable differences, is that of the Rwanda National Radio, during the wide-spread conflict that took place there. Those responsible were convicted after many years by the international criminal court, and were sentenced to the maximum penalties, for using the media channels to incite hatred. This illustrates that Justice may come “late”, but will nevertheless certainly come.
This is the place to note that when a certain news item is published, it has a communicative impact, the impact of which on the person receiving the news item is impossible to correct. This damage is incorrigible, not even by using the right to respond. This is what drives us to present our complaints, since antisemitism is a foreign phenomenon for the Venezuelan people, but the lack of supervision, on which we touched above, and lack of punishment, which promote hate among the population, while drawing the attention towards a certain aspect, in this case the religious aspect, may bring about terrible results, up to the point of no-return.
The year 2012 was an election year. The immediate result following the success of Henrique Capriles Radonski in the candidates election process, or in the opposition primary elections and his candidacy for the presidential election which took place on October 7th, was evident in a deluge of antisemitic articles and programs in the media channels close to the authorities, in which his Jewish origins were used to attack him, the Jewish community, Zionism and the State of Israel. In other words, the use of antisemitism as a tool in the hands of the Chavez supporters in the political and electoral contest was conspicuous. At that period, some of the activists of the regime’s party dedicated themselves to promoting antisemitism.
Due to the permissive atmosphere regarding any disqualification of people, messages and graffiti which are much more violent towards observant people appear; slogans like “Jews out!” and “Jews murderers!” and among other things numerous Stars of David likened to swastikas appear in those very places where members of the Jewish community reside, and these drawings started to appear even in one of our synagogues in the capital Caracas, when the crowd of worshippers were conducting the Sabbath morning prayer. This can be proof of the government’s passivity and lack of punishment for antisemitism in Venezuela.
The 2012 report is loaded with contents which are music to the ears of the pervert minds that are fed and contaminated with the hateful messages transmitted regularly by the media channels.
These days, the social networks and the internet have become a tool for massive dissemination of contents, easily accessible and used for transmitting xenophobic and antisemitic contents, as well as a large number of tweets on Tweeter and video clips. Such a noticeable post was circulated on YouTube by a blog called “Martillo Rojo” (Red Hammer), which blames Capriles for being a Nazi and a Zionist. Antisemitism in Venezuela constantly undergoes mutations in the strategies it employs and it often uses the Middle East conflicts as a source on which it draws direct condemnation of Israel regardless of the question if this is an act of self-defense and enforcement of legitimate sovereignty. The attitude towards Israel in the public media channels is undoubtedly biased. The de-legitimization and demonization of the State of Israel, as a reflection or echo of events occurring in certain countries controlled by radical Islam, serve as a tool for direct bashing of Judaism; this is similar to the anti-Zionist campaign of the last months, in which a comparison is drawn between Zionism and terrorism. Their aim is to injure the image and nature of the Jewish people. It should be noted that during the months preceding the vote regarding the change of status of the Palestinian Authority in the UN Council, that took place on November 29, 2012, public figures close to the Government and to the national media went on an aggressive propaganda campaign, during which denouncing the State of Israel was more blatant than the support of the Palestinian position. Our position on the matter has always been for the idea of two states, two independent nations coexisting in peace and dialogue, with secure borders.
Similarly, it was noted in 2012 that the media channels and some of the Chavismo supporters were using sources from the foreign media channels and changing the news items in a manipulative and biased way, broadcasting them in this manner in the local media channels. We refer to the Iranian channels Hispan TV in Spanish and Press TV in English. The Russian internet site Actualidad RT and the Cuban internet sites Prensa Latina and Cuba Debate were used in a similar way. In view of this situation, our community did not refrain from addressing and complaining to the authorized bodies and from holding meetings with government representatives to demand control and eradication of antisemitism. Antisemitism, which, inter alia, could cause severe damage to the reputation and image of the country.
The globalization as a real and actual phenomenon causes news about events to spread simultaneously throughout the world the moment they happen. When we deal with antisemitic acts, the reactions of the Jewish and the non-Jewish world are both quick to come. This causes uneasiness to those who in spite of their ability to fight antisemitism do not show clear signs that they are interested in preventing such acts. In order to ensure our free development as Jews in our community in Venezuela, it is highly important to cause anti-Semitic actions of any kind to stop, to bring those responsible for them to justice and to implement an appropriate policy against discrimination and antisemitism.
The Jewish community in Venezuela will never cease to express its ideological, familial, religious and legacy connection to Israel. We hope that the contents of this report will serve as a warning to those who have in their hands the tools that can successfully eradicate antisemitism in a country where the Venezuelan Jews, still from the colonial period, contributed and still continue to contribute in various areas, and needless to say that our contribution as a minority has been significant.
David Bittan Obadia is the president of the confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela)