By B. Cohen
The Anti-Defamation League has issued a sharp reminder to the Venezuelan regime of President Nicolas Maduro that it is “responsible for the safety and well-being of Venezuela’s Jewish community” after anti-Semitic graffiti was sprayed on the wall of a synagogue in the capital, Caracas.
The graffiti included a Nazi swastika and a celtic cross, a symbol widely used by neo-Nazi organizations. The number “6 million” – a reference to the number of Jews exterminated during the Nazi Holocaust – was accompanied by a question mark.
“This heinous act – deeply offensive to Jews and other survivors – sends a chilling message to the Jewish community in Venezuela and is an affront to all in Venezuela who strive to live in harmony,” declared ADL National Director Abraham Foxman. “Unfortunately, we have witnessed that anti-Semitic incidents occur far too often in Venezuela. Despicable acts of intimidation, like this one targeting Jews, contribute to an atmosphere of insecurity.”
Under Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, the Jewish community has declined from a high of over 20,000 members to less than 7,000 currently. Jewish emigration from Venezuela has been partly provoked by the country’s economic crisis, now at an unprecedented level, as well as the anti-Semitic rhetoric that has marked the left-wing regime’s support for Iran, Syria, and Palestinian Islamist organizations like Hamas.
While Venezuela does not have a notable history of anti-Semitism, first Chavez and now Maduro have found political uses for anti-Jewish rhetoric, including the targeting of opposition leader Henrique Capriles, whose mother’s family survived the Holocaust in Poland before arriving in Venezuela. Chavez broke off diplomatic relations with Israel following the 2008-09 war in Gaza, when he declared to a French newspaper, “What was it, if not genocide? The Israelis were looking for an excuse to exterminate the Palestinians.”