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Is anti-Semitism on the Rise or Decrease in Venezuela?

A Jewish advocacy group in Venezuela is protesting a state-run radio broadcast referencing the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

The Venezuelan Confederation of Israelite Associations filed a formal complaint with the Public Ministry denouncing the broadcast in which journalist Cristina Gonzalez read the anti-Semitic text and suggested listeners should read it:

“Venezuelan Jews know that promoting this anti-Semitic document only sows hate and discrimination, violating the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela…I do not have an anti-Semitic stance, I’m not anti-anything, I read everything that falls my way…”

Salomon Cohen, the confederation president requested a formal investigation into the matter and a meeting with government officials.

Last year, President Hugo Chavez met with Jewish community representatives to discuss what they described as an “incessant barrage of anti-Semitic commentaries” on state-run media. As a positive result, there was a detectable decrease in anti-Semitic rhetoric. Increasing diplomatic signals from the Chavez government explained that relations between the Jewish community and the revolutionary state of Venezuela were improving.

However, Venezuelan anti-Semitism seems to be brewing again among the most radical elements of government supporters as Chavez gets ready for a reelection campaign next year.

Song of a Prisoner

Alan GrossLast month, Alan Gross, a 61 year-old US aid contractor was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison for crimes against the state. After a two-day trial, a panel of judges accused the American Jew of being involved in a US-funded “subversive project” to “topple the Revolution.” Actually, Gross was working for the Bethesda, Maryland-based Development Alternatives, Inc. on a USAID-backed democracy-building project. He was hired under an $8.6 million contract.

Bonnie Goldstein of PoliticsDaily.com, wrote last year, of the project, from the American perspective:

“Since 1996, a small effort to stick our thumb in the island’s eye developed with the formation of a “Cuba democracy program” within USAID to deliver “humanitarian aid” and “information” to “human rights and political activists” and families of dissidents. For years the democracy program’s budget, about $2 million to start with, was funneled into grants to Cuban American groups in Miami that ostensibly used the money to somehow promote freedoms for Cubans still on the island.”

Unfortunately, program funds were misused. A 2006 audit and investigation by the GAO highlighted taxpayer monies used to purchase Godiva chocolates, Nintendo GameBoys and cashmere sweaters. An alleged embezzlement scheme by another grantee was discovered in 2008, leading a member of the House to challenge USAID’s annual program allocation, which had by then grown to $45 million per year. The agency agreed to more closely monitor its contractors, and soon after Alan Gross was hired via DAI to travel to Cuba.

He was convicted of “acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state” for setting up covert Internet networks for Cuba dissidents utilizing “sophisticated” communications technology. The prosecutors sought a 20-year sentence for the worker, who has been jailed since his Havana arrest on December 3, 2009.

Immediately, the United States, who contended Gross was only setting up Internet access for the island’s Jewish community, came to his defense.

CubaThis week, former US President, Jimmy Carter, (famous for criticizing Israeli policy) is scheduled to meet with Jewish leaders in Cuba concerning Gross. According to the agenda, Carter is scheduled to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro and Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega before leaving on Wednesday.

The trip is under the aegis of the Carter Center, who insist the trip’s aim is to discuss economic policies and improve relations between the US and Cuba.

US officials insist that the 15-year sentence imposed on Gross is a “stumbling block to any rapprochement…” between the nations.

In a statement welcoming Carter’s mission, Gross’s wife, Judy, said:

“If he is able to help Alan in any way while he is there, we will be extraordinarily grateful,” she said in the emailed statement. “Our family is desperate for Alan to return home, after nearly 16 months in prison. We continue to hope and pray that the Cuban authorities will release him immediately on humanitarian grounds.”

Last month, the Reverend Jesse Jackson also complained to Cuba concerning the situation; saying “granting him freedom on humanitarian grounds could open the door for better relations.”

He said:

“I am not making a legal case. I am making a humanitarian plea, a moral appeal…I hope that Raul [Castro] and the governing officials see the advantage of letting him go. Every time a prisoner is let go, it opens the door for increased dialogue and possibilities.”

This Week Around the World

Jews in Danger

Last week in London, two men were arrested by the police when a pro-Israel protester, standing outside the School of Oriental and African studies was bitten on the cheek and subsequently taken to the hospital.

Four members of the organization, Stand With Us, decided to go to SOAS after
learning that a Celebrate Palestine event was going down – part of Israel Apartheid Week. Two of these Jewish gentlemen, Tony Coren and Gili Brenner, went into the university and held a conversation with the student
participants.

Palestinian child

“We had placards and some information packs, and we had some very interesting and civilised discussions,” said Mr. Coren. However, the situation quickly, unexpectedly turned antagonistic, “About four or five people were standing around Gili, Ro’i Goldman, and the fourth member of our group, Dean Gold. One man
began to say some extremely unpleasant things about Jews. He said that
the best thing the Jews had ever done was to go into the gas chambers.
Dean asked if he could film him. The man said yes, adding that ‘these
things should be heard
.'”

“Another man then came forward and told the abusive man that he did not
have to be filmed or interviewed. Despite the abusive man agreeing to be
filmed, Mr Coren said, the second man, who was “big and burly and of
Middle East appearance,” allegedly launched himself at Dean, grabbing at his
camera, punching him and then biting him on the cheek….There was a struggle and the university security guards came out. A number of other people then began to say we shouldn’t be there. The president of the union came out and said we had made our point. A policeman strongly advised us to leave.”

Jenni Frazer, of the Jewish Chronicle Online, reported:

“Ro’i Goldman, who plans to study in the UK next year, said he was very shocked by the experience. But Tony Coren said he was not shocked, but was angry that the university authorities had indicated that by their very presence, the Stand With Us
protesters had possibly provoked the attack.”

Meanwhile, an IDF officer suffered slight injuries on Yom Purim during a scuffle on Yehuda Hayamit Street in Jaffa. A captain in the Armored Corps, the officer was attacked from behind by an unidentified assailant while sitting on a bench. The assailant stabbed him once in the chest and snatched his rifle.

The officer was evacuated to the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Beyond the Palin

Meanwhile, 2008 vice Presidential nominee, former Alaskan governor, and American Republican Party mogul, Sarah Palin visited the Kotel on Purim. She is scheduled to have dinner with Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife on Monday. Reuters reported that she said Israel is “too apologetic.”

Reuters Has the Scoop

Meanwhile, on Saturday night, Hamas men broke into a Reuters office in Gaza and assaulted one journalist, clobbering him with a metal pole and breaking his arm.

Hamas is divided over Mahmoud Abbas’ offer to visit Gaza and conduct conference with Hamas leaders about the formation of a Palestinian Unity government.

Slouching Towards Apartheid

Whether you realize it or not, if you are a Jew living in the Diaspora, you are living in peril. Jews living in Israel should keep on smiling, having great ideas and loving their children.

Here are some examples of what I mean. Take Europe for instance, where recently a government-funded Catholic school in Antwerp hosted a ‘Palestine Day,’ sated with anti-Semitic activities for youngsters. In one stall was “Throw the soldiers into the sea”, where kids were invited to throw effigies of IDF soldiers into two large tanks.

In Sweden, an event for children in the Jewish community of Malmo was interrupted by shouts of “Heil Hitler” and “Jewish Pigs.”

Ilmar Reepalu, the newly elected mayor of that Swedish city said “we accept neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism,” equating thereby by Zionism with racism.

Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress said

“Small Jewish communities are facing a situation where they are being physically, verbally and psychologically threatened by fundamentalist elements and their extreme left-wing cohorts on one side and the far-right neo-Nazis on the other.”

He continued,

“If they can’t receive protection or respite from mainstream officials then we are entering a very dark period for the Jews in Europe.”

Kantor, who is hosting a conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia later this month about effective practices in fighting racism and xenophobia said, European Union and European leaders should “launch a campaign against intolerance and anti-Semitism to remind European citizens that the new Europe was established after the Second World War on the concept of ‘Never Again.'”

Say it to my Facebook

Meanwhile, Simon Wiesenthal Center researchers have uncovered about two-dozen Facebook sites with titles like “Kill a Jew Year” and “Kill a Jew Day” in just one week.

“Some have been posted from the United States, others from the United Kingdom,”

Reported Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and director of the Jewish Human Rights NGO’s Digital Terrorism and Hate project.

“Facebook officials have been very cooperative in removing these calls for anti-Jewish violence, but the hate continues to sprout at an alarming rate. We know they are committed to thwarting online bigotry, but if such a trend continues, we will urge Facebook and other social networking hubs to track and preempt online bigots more aggressively.”

Bringin’ it all back home

And concerning Jews in Israel, Noam Shalit, father of Gilad Shalit, IDF captive being held in Gaza since 2006, complained recently that the European Union hasn’t done enough to pressure Hamas. However, he said

“When there is a need to pressure Israel, the European Union knows how to do that very well.”

In the United States, anti-Semitism is less severe; it is reduced to isolated attacks of violence, yet a post-Holocaust trend of anti-Zionism has left its mark in a more inconspicuous way.

When Jimmy Carter, who will be visiting Israel this week, wrote his book in 2006, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” , Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League was quick to have the former president apologize to Israel and Diaspora Jews for the “stigma” the book and its subsequent publicity may have caused them.

In those four years, applying the term ‘Apartheid’ to the Zionist cause has gone beyond ‘wha’ or edginess. It is hip, it is soon to be a norm – and in no consideration of actual facts, I might add. Heck, there is even a Wikipedia page now dedicated to just this. That is to say, I’ve never seen side-by-side Arab and Jewish drinking fountains or parking spaces. Though I’ve noticed the security barrier has reduced terrorism in the Jewish country, some 92 to 97%.

On August 31th, Thomas L. Friedman, the Jewish, sometimes-supporter of Israeli policy, wrote in his New York Times column of the Israeli right-wing, (an educated assumption)

“The opponents want to destroy the idea of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, so Israel will be stuck with an apartheid-like, democracy-sapping, permanent occupation of the West Bank.”

Whether Peace Talks fell under Abu Mazen’s faint-heartedness or the pressure of Hamas, (or perhaps Bibi whispered something in Abbas’ ear, such as “go back to Saudi Arabia, you dog”) Friedman who supported the Lebanon invasion and Operation Cast Lead just wanted to sound young and hip, so he used the term apartheid; thereby propelling a Liberal American mentality yet one-step closer to further isolation, misunderstanding and eventually resentment toward Zionism and the Jewish State; which can and will act under its own auspices – that is to say, the US is Israel’s biggest ally, but not her boss.

(Even counting the self-interested US as a confidante is something that opposition-Kadima leader, Tzippi Livni has recently warned Bibi about). And as if the soul of the Jewish-American population has not become diluted enough, today 50% of all American Jews wed outside the faith.

A frightening hint of things to come…

Old Land, New Land

“The state that will rise will be Jewish in its function, purpose, and aim. Not a country of Jews settled in a land but a state for Jews, the Jewish people…” David Ben Gurion

Last Sunday, the first day of the Israeli workweek, Israel’s Cabinet approved a bill requiring new citizens to pledge a loyalty oath to a “Jewish and democratic” state.

It was in specific reference to the Law of Return, as almost all new immigrants to Israel are indeed Jewish.

The bill, which now faces a wider parliamentary vote, passed by a 22-8 margin.

“The state of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people and is a democratic state in which all its citizens — Jews and non-Jews — enjoy full equal rights…Whoever wants to join us, has to recognize us.”

Said Bibi.

“There is no other democracy in the Middle East. There is no other Jewish state in the world. Unfortunately, there are many today who tried to blur not only the unique connection of the Jewish people to its homeland, but also the connection of the Jewish people to its state.”

A correspondent of Al Jazeera contended in conversation, “some have argued that the bill will cast Israel in a bad light in the international community.”

Israel?

Bad light?

International Community?
What a shock!

Shmuel Sandler, a professor at Bar Ilan University defended the bill:

“You can stay whichever religion you want, whichever nationality. But if you want to become a citizen, you have to take the oath.”

Another Al Jazeera correspondent, Nour Odeh, from Ramallah said:

“Defining a state by the specific religious or ethnic background of the majority of its citizens is unprecedented”.

However an Arab State of Palestine would not allow Jewish settlers.

Unlike their Palestinian brethren in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Arabs (who make up roughly one-fifth of the Jewish Country’s 7,000,000 citizens), have the right to vote, travel freely and even claim munificent social benefits.

Same as anyone.

And apropos to these enraged or threatened Arab citizens of Israel, Mitchell Bard, Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a foreign policy analyst told Haaretz in August, alluding to the Arab lobby in the United States:

“As for the domestic Arab lobby, even they are less pro-Palestinian than they are anti-Israel. Almost everything is anti-Israel. For example, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s resolutions mostly target Israel and ignore discrimination against Arabs by anyone other than Israel or the United States. They don’t support independence for Lebanon.”

He continued,

“They rarely criticize terrorism. And so they have very little credibility with Congress. It shouldn’t be surprising if they are also unsuccessful.”

To shed some light on the issue.

“The powerful part of the Arab lobby isn’t so concerned about the Palestinian issue, they’re concerned about the welfare of the Saudis. And fights between the Israel lobby and the Saudi lobby are rare − there hasn’t been one since the 1981 arms sales fight.”

Hugo Boss: Despite Attempted Name-Clearing, Venezuela Grows Increasingly Cold to The Jews

Down in Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez has agreed to meet with delegates of the country’s Jewish community for a discussion about antisemitism in the state-run media.

Last June, Mr. Chavez made a public declaration that he believed the Mossad was scheming to assassinate him and that the Israeli government was bankrolling his Venezuelan opposition.

Vice president of the Confederation of Israelite Associations of Venezuela (CAIV), David Bittan Obadia, made the following statement according to the Jewish Chronicle Online in anticipation of the meeting set for September:

“We do not deem [anti-Semitism] a state policy, but the government has the tools to stop it…We will be very straightforward in expressing our concerns. We can see that the government is willing to cooperate…” Stoically he then declared, “This anti-Semitism is troubling us all and it needs to cease immediately.”

According to Jewish journalist Jennifer Lipman:

Anti-Jewish sentiment has been a problem throughout the presidency of Hugo Chavez. In his 12 years in power, the populist leftist leader has made speeches accusing “Semitic banks” of sabotaging the economy and lent his support to an indigenous Islamic group known as “Hizbollah Venezuela.”

In just one isolated instance of antisemitism in the Bolivarian Republic, only days after a public rant in opposition of Israel’s actions in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, in January of 2009, vandals broke into Sephardic synagogue, Tiferet Israel, only a mile from Chávez’s presidential palace in Caracas. Torah scrolls were trashed and spray paint informed the walls of death threats for Jews and the Jewish country.

A member of the Carcas Jewish community predicted that:

“Chavez and his supporters will not give up power, irrespective of the election result, and many members of our community are concerned that if there are disturbances, we will be targeted. When there is anarchy, there are always people who use it to attack Jews.”

She also observed that:

When the mood intensifies, like during the current election campaign, there are politicians who immediately bring out the incitement against the Jews. Is this by order of the president? I don’t know, but the president sees and hears everything in the government-controlled area. Many Jewish families in my area have left or are leaving.

Also, earlier this summer, Chavez met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and called on Latin America and the Arab world to fight together what he deemed “America’s imperialist and capitalist interests abroad.”

Meanwhile, amid delays to negotiate with Syria, due to rumored Israeli reticence, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of General Staff Lieutenant, General Gabi Ashkenazi, OC Military Intelligence Major General Amos Yadlin and OC Planning Branch Major General Amir Eshel are all giving a stalwart push for peace meetings with the Syrian government – while an effort is being made to stall the sale of weapons to that country from Russian suppliers.

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