Honduras – Antisemitism during the Honduran Crisis
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has expressed concern regarding the conspiracy theories that have been aired in Honduras, according to which Israel and Jewish elements assisted in overthrowing the president, Manuel Zelaya, during the country’s military coup. Even Zelaya himself gave public voice to the theories, and claimed that such elements are also attempting to evict him from the Brazilian embassy in the capital city Tegucigalpa, where he had taken refuge.
The ADL, based in the United States, stated that such claims had been made not only by Zelaya, but also by the manager of one of the country’s radio stations that had been closed down last week by order of the provisional government, and by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Most of the comments on the subject made by these three and their supporters, relate to the possibility that Israeli soldiers or mercenaries cooperated with the forces supporting the provisional president of Honduras, Robert Micheletti, and supplied them with, among others, a form of tear gas which was used in the embassy where Zelaya had found refuge.
In his speech at the UN 10 days ago, Chavez claimed that Israel was the only country to have recognized the provisional government responsible for the coup in Honduras – a claim rejected by Micheletti’s government. For his part, Zelaya said to the American newspaper “Miami Herald” that Israeli mercenaries were torturing him with radioactive emissions.
“History has taught us that during times of upheaval and instability, Jews are a convenient target and are often made scapegoats“, said the leader of the Anti Defamation League, Abraham Foxman. “This is what is happening now in Honduras, where there is only a small Jewish minority“. According to the Organization’s estimate, less than 100 Jewish families live today in the Central American State of 8 million inhabitants.
In reaction to the Anti Defamation League’s claims, Zelaya said that he “deeply respects the believers of other faiths“, and even furthered to substantiate his claims with examples of criticism aimed at him by antisemitic elements, after he had included several Jews in his cabinet. “As a person and as a president, I call on all citizens of Honduras to refrain from making any form of antisemitic comments“, said Zelaya.
One of the comments that the Anti Defamation League was angered by was that made by David Romero, a senior employee of the “Radio Globo” station that supports Zelaya.
On September 25 he referred to rumors of Israeli involvement in the crisis and spoke during a broadcast of the “famous Holocaust”. He declared: “I believe it would have been just and logical to allow Hitler to complete his historic vision”.
Last night, during an interview with AP, Romero apologized for his remarks and said that they had only been “stupid declarations” made in the heat of the moment, and that they do not reflect his true opinions. He mentioned that his grandfather had been a Jewish immigrant from Czechoslovakia who had fled from Europe to Honduras. He asked to communicate a message: “I apologize to the Jewish community here and around the world“.