Monday, July 28, 2008

Hugo Chávez's Jewish Problem

There is an article by Travis Pantin published in Commentary (or the WSJ, your choice of links) which gives an excellent summary of all the anti Semitic tone in the chavista rule that this blog has decried over the years. Except for some minor mistakes (there were already Jews emigrating to Venezuela in the early part of the XIX century from Curaçao and settling in Coro where there was even a Jewish cemetery), Mr. Pantin summarizes it all quite well: the situation of the Jewish community today, and the background behind the Chavez and chavista anti semitic tendencies.

But what is more frightening than the narrative itself is that we can see clearly the potential of a an anti semitic movement if the political process of chavismo starts deteriorating fast. Scape goats will be needed fast and as we all know very well, the Jews are the canary of coal mine as I already reminded readers in 2004.

Mr. Pantin is, by the way, not necessarily a partisan observer. In the last section of the article he quotes dryly the comments of some Caracas Jews who do not want to leave because, well, they live quite well in Caracas for a fraction of what it would cost to live equally well elsewhere. And this after ten years of alleged socialist revolution.... Which only makes more chilling the fact that a third of the Jews of Venezuela have left since Chavez came to power.

I leave you to read the article but I am quoting two little excerpts:
The stated reasons are many. Even amid all their trouble, it has been pointed out, Venezuela's Jews retain a workable relationship with the Chávez government. Jewish journalists can still speak out. Nor have Jewish business been targeted for expropriation by Mr. Chávez's redistributionist policies. Jews can still travel freely, and anti-Semitic violence has not touched many of them personally. So they hold out, bearing the yoke of economic and political harassment and hoping for change.

With both the ailing economy and Chavez's social programs dependent almost entirely on oil revenues, a drop in prices could trigger widespread animosity against the “Semitic banks” that members of Chavez's party have repeatedly denounced for every passing ill. A major event like a military strike on Iran by the United States or Israel might similarly serve as justification for seizing the assets of Venezuela’s Jewry. In the meantime, as the numbers dwindle, and many of the richest depart, it is becoming increasingly difficult to care for the Jewish poor, who make up a full 25 percent of the community.

A chilling required reading.

-The end-

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