Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Antisemitism and elections in Venezuela

Great article from Tablet in which yours truly is among those asked to try to make sense on why Chavez is antisemitic, among many other to the point observations.  One of the best recent article on Venezuela.  Renews one's faith in the intelligence and understanding of some for the current situation, the more so when you compare it the following exchange in El Pais which could have well been written in 1998.  Oh well....  Good thing the writers of El Pais know better than some of the stuff written in their forums.


  1. Anonymous1:12 AM

    Thank you for the link to Ben Cohen's article. His style is similar to yours: factual, informative and without unnecessary emotive arguments. I'm not surprised they asked you to contribute.

  2. Anonymous6:10 AM

    El País has come a long way since the days of Aznares, the most chavista of all reporters.
    Excellent. Thanks Daniel.


  3. Anonymous6:28 AM

    great article by Ben Cohen-thanks for sharing mon cher!


  4. “politics and political life represent a kind of hand-to-hand combat between the ‘people,’ united by ‘love,’ and its enemies, united by hatred—the ‘ire’ that Ceresole imputes to the Jews.”

    This anti-rational, emotional, attitude is what allows Chavismo to discard any real life problems such as high crime rates, food shortages etc.By emphasizing this love fantasy where Chavez appears as a saint who is threatened by mean- spirited, materialistic outsiders, plotting to destroy the socialist paradise,Chavez inoculates himself against being held accountable by Chavistas for his failures.Also it makes him look good among those who like to see someone stand up to US imperialism/Zionism.The hatred that Chavez preaches is projected outwards instead of recognized as it truly is: his own inner hatefulness.

    The fact that Capriles is Catholic, shows the anti- Semitic reality of the Chavez regime, and that world wide, antisemitism is often called anti Zionism.This makes the conspiracy theories even more intense, because it shows the Zionist Jews camouflaging as regular Venezuelans. Of course all of this ties into anti Americanism which is always part of the package as well.

  5. Daniel,

    What is the circulation/readership (two different numbers, as you know) of Kikiriki?

    Because omitting that information makes this chavista rag seem more important than it is.

    As for “There is no anti-Semitic tradition in Venezuelan culture,” I wouldn't say that. As you well know, the Catholic Church, for centuries, and on a global scale, droned to its believers that Jews killed Christ. As a result, many now older folks were brainwashed, or have remnants of those teachings stuck in their collective unconscious.

    That has changed. But I certainly was aware of the brainwashing among my older Venezuelan family members, when I married an American Jew, decades ago, my mother-in-law a rabid (discrimminatory and unpleasant) zionist. But that's another story.

    The one saving grace for Venezuelans, insofar as ecumenical relations are concerned, is the very thing that makes the population-at-large so damned unserious :-). There's also a veneration for other non-religious factors. Once upon a time, I considered these to be, in simplistic terms:

    1. The US dollar
    2. Family
    3. Simón Bolívar.

    The last is teetering out the window, for obvious reasons. But the first two remain as strong contenders.

    Meaning, that religion is no longer a big deal, in Venezuela, as a way to evaluate. Well, except for Chávez and his crew who have rekindled older viewpoints (which they and their parents grew up with), so as to inflate persecution complexes and thereby increase cohesion in the ranks. (Ironically, isn't that how the late Meir Kahane analyzed the symbiotic relationship among Jews?)

    Ben Cohen's article is beautifully written. But it's unfortunate to whiff some stretching to make a Jewish point. That, when added to the Tablet's unilateral focus, can make for paranoid politics. Or so I read it...And that reminds me of an anecdote. Before I moved from Toronto, I used live near three synagogues: one, conservative, another reform, and a third sephardic - not sure in what spectrum. One evening, I walked near two men, I'd say in their 60s, who had just come out of the conservative schul. Neither looked like they had 'ni un pelo de pendejo'. One said to the other:

    "That's what they're taught every Sunday: to hate Jews."
    I heard a mumbled response, certainly not contesting the comment.

    I was flabbergasted. I've attended numerous services in different temples, but never heard anything that outrageous. Still, I'm aware that just like there are some kind and wise religious leaders, there are also the firebrands, this dichotomy offering no exception among rabbis.

    1. far from me to deny the existence of a latent antisemitism in our western hemisphere. the thing is that it was never state policy until chavez came to power. and whatever exited before chavez was certainly less than what could be found in other countries such as argentina.

      in the past marrying a jew was certainly greatly frowned upon if you belonged to the upper classes. but so it was to marry a protestant and even more to marry outside your race.

      i suppose that i could have qualified antisemtism with the word "active". but the fact of the matter is that there was no antisemitism and if gomez and lopez contreras did not like to receive jews before the war, it does not mean at all that they prosecuted those who were already in venezuela which holds one of the oldest synagogue of the continent in coro (or la vela de coro, i forgot)

    2. But Daniel, you DO deny (present tense) the existence of antisemitism in Venezuela (“There is no anti-Semitic tradition in Venezuelan culture,”) in order to heighten the anti-semitic politics of chavismo.

      Again, let me inform you, Chavez is only using the subconcious and centuries-old remnants of Catholic teachings. Good grief, how many 80-year old priests, if not those 20 years younger, in the interior, Sabaneta in particular, are still preaching and tap-dancing to the anti-semitic tune they were taught by Curia teachings?

      And now you try to backtrack, here? Now you aim for some precision, after the fact (publication)?

      I'd almost have to say you remind me of Manny Puleo, for your sharing of observations with Cohen don't reflect much accuracy. And for a scientist, that behaviour is way too odd for me.

      It's political vagaries such as your original statement that contribute to misunderstanding and to an unecessary stirring of a pot. But maybe that's what you're after. For obviously, Ben Cohen loved your perspective; it fit into the stretches he makes in a unilaterally focused ezine.

      When I read sly manipulations, I veer towards people like Capriles, who just don't have the time for demagoguery. And speaking of whom .. Here's why I find Capriles so damned refreshing. He has Jewish roots and is able to combine his personal history with his chosen religion -- seamlessly, respecting both. I love that duality. And I love a society that allows the blending of cultures and religions (perhaps because I'm from three generations of those types of mixtures). That blending of religions was a complete anathema to my Jewish in-laws, back in the seventies. Could it be that just like Catholics grew up with a dislike for Jews, Jews, too, grew up with a dislike (and mockery) of goys? Of course, my dear! Pero hay quienes se pintan de angelitos... Know what I mean? Of course you do!

      It's interesting, but not surprising, that Cohen would latch onto the Jewish roots of Capriles, as though that were something to be praised. And why not? I can just see all of Judea cheering when they read Cohen's words. Now let's turn that around and ask: How many Jews respect the Christian roots of those who have converted to Judaism? (Pssst, zero. Converts to Judaism lie somewhere on the pendejo spectrum.)

      Entiendes porque todo esto me huele tanto a Manny Puleo? Claro que sí!

      Let me be clear. I'm not talking about real persecution, that which has existed in certain times in history, fed by crackpot heads of state and their sycophants. I'm talking about the perpetuation of that persecution through psychological means, by those who have been persecuted, for their political favours and advantage.

      When one has been taught to feel persecuted (for political advantage), when one has been taught to be a chosen person (from biblical times), above all the rest, that psychological theatre opens the floodgates for manipulation, including the pretense of angelic postures.

      P.S. I don't know if López Contreras had a state policy of not receiving Jews before the (Second World) War -- depending on the timeframe you're using to define that War. (Mine is September 1, 1939.) What I do know is that the Jewish passengers of the Caribia and Königstein were allowed to disembark in La Guaira, thanks to the permits issued by López Contreras. Depending on the filter that you use to read, or that which is used to write the history, López Contreras had to plead with members of his cabinet to allow the Jews to disembark. Or, the Jewish community in Venezuela had to plead with López Contreras to allow for landing rights to the ships' passengers. Or both, for human relations, when mixed with politics, are normally complex.

  6. Semitic is a language category which includes Hebrew, Arabic, and a number of other tongues. Contrary to the lies and tricks of much of the bourgeois media, Chavez doesn't oppose nor does he criticize this language category. So,in truth, Chavez isn't anti-Semitic.

    Zionism however is a political category that entails military aggression, territorial expansion, and conquest of other peoples in order to exalt a specific section of the Semitic peoples that advocate Jewish chauvinism. So, Chavez is very much an anti-Zionist because he believes Zionism is slime and depravity.

    Except for crackpot-reactionaries and other lunatics associated with political conservative movement, anti-Zionism isn't the same thing anti-Semitism. But these crackpots and lunatics can't see the difference between Zionism and Semitism.

    Nor is anti-Zionism an expression that implies or entails hostility or criticism to Judeo which is a belief in a singular divine being which chooses the Jewish people as his favorite subjects.

    Chavez respects Semitism and he also respects as well as believes in Judeo, while he openly detests Zionism. He believes in Judeo however with Nazarene limitations.

    Daniel, please don't wallow in slime. You're too good for such wallowing. Try to be more precise, so you won't spread bias and nescience .

    1. As always, we can count on A. Shaw to be the cheerleader of chavismo, using pom-poms to whitewash where needed.

      Never have I heard Chavez mock or respect on the basis of language. As such, your argument, Shaw, is more than just silly; it's disingenuous.

      In the meantime, this may help you, dear:

      "While the term's etymology might suggest that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic peoples, the term was coined in the late 19th century in Germany as a more scientific-sounding term for Judenhass ("Jew-hatred"),[2] and that has been its normal use since then."

      This, too, may help:

      And don't forget the 2004 school raid. Yes, Shaw, there's nothing like showing your chavista hatred of zionists by directing 25 members of the DISIP, some armed and hooded, to raid a Jewish grade school: .

    2. shaw

      idiotic flattery will not lead you anywhere, in particular for such an irregular poster (i do not remember you but other seem to do).

      truly, one has to be quite blindfolded to forget many of the chavez suggestions, from the role of jews in the death of christ to calling capriles a pig for no reason but his jewish ancestry. or himself an antisemite.

  7. Shaw You broke your promise you said you weren't going to share your brilliance on this blog anymore. Everyone on the planet except you and the demonized president of Iran understand that antisemitism refers to various forms of hatred towards the Jews. Including clever arguments such as your anti-antisemitism manifesting in your Zionism statements. Genesis 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. And by the way lingering antisemitism still runs strong in the Catholic church as evidenced in her worldwide refusal to name Famous Jews such as Moses, King David, and Isaiah (for example) as Saints and name churches after them.

  8. syd and firepig

    the readership of kikiriki is not the issue here. its line is taken from the official regime's position. readership may tell us how successful such a negative propaganda may be but what matters is where does it come from. not to mention that antisemitism in state media can be heard on radio as well as read on rags.

    1. The circulation and readership of Kikiriki are certainly an issue, Daniel. For your ommission points to a disregard for scale and numbers and accuracy, the tools of any scientist I know.

      Mentioning a rag that has an itty-bitty circulation/readership (if those numbers are even available), and which promotes crackpot ideas, is not the same as the promotion of those crackpot ideas through a newspaper with deep regional or national coverage. But of course, you know that.

      Or, should we now ascribe great weight to the headlines from tabloids, such as, "World ends in 2013", or "Tiger plays with own balls." Because by your ommission of critical detail, Daniel, as forwarded to Cohen, that's what you're asking readers to do.

    2. Hey!!!! I never mentioned kirikiki in the interview nor did Cohen mentioned it to me!!!!! Nor was I sent the article for proof reading!!!!!

      Please, do not put that grievance at my feet.

      This being clarified, I stand by y position that readership of kirikiki is only important inasmuch as we want to know how effective is the propaganda penetration. As I wrote, antisemitism comes many ways, even on the radio (I heard it as a personal experience). Thus what matters first is that the regime is promoting antisemitism. Whether it is successful is a DIFFERENT article/research. Then you need scientists, but for the time being ethics and history will be enough.

    3. Sorry, Daniel. I assumed you were Cohen's main feed on Vzlan news, when after I asked you about Kikiriki pub. stats, you gave them no importance.

      I like knowing where things stand from the get-go: who said what, when, where, how and why. Without the 5-6 W's of basic journalism, vagaries abound. These, in turn, give rise to misunderstandings by most, and misappropriations by jerks.

      Those W's are critical for weighing ethics and history.

      Otherwise, I should be consider important the utterings of a former neighbour with Tourette's Syndrome. (Pobre loco.)

  9. Of course nobody mentions that you cannot be a Marixt Communist and a Catholic. Last I knew it was automatic ex-communication. Of course in Venezuela anything is possible. Just another failed attempt by the administration to blame others a la Hitler.

  10. Shaw: This is published at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Jewish Political Studies Review: "Anti-Zionism has become the most dangerous and effective form of anti-Semitism in our time, through its systematic delegitimization, defamation, and demonization of Israel. Although not a priori anti-Semitic, the calls to dismantle the Jewish state, whether they come from Muslims, the Left, or the radical Right, increasingly rely on an anti-Semitic stereotypization of classic themes, such as the manipulative "Jewish lobby," the Jewish/Zionist "world conspiracy," and Jewish/Israeli "warmongers." One major driving force of this anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism is the transformation of the Palestinian cause into a "holy war"; another source is anti-Americanism linked with fundamentalist Islamism. In the current context, classic conspiracy theories, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, are enjoying a spectacular revival. The common denominator of the new anti-Zionism has been the systematic effort to criminalize Israeli and Jewish behavior, so as to place it beyond the pale of civilized and acceptable conduct."
    I trust the people in this website REALLY know the true meaning of the terms anti-Zionism and anti- Semitism, since they are on the receiving end.

  11. Ken,

    David and the mythological figure of Moses (show me the decent archaeologist proving Moses's record) are pre-Christian. Paul and Peter and Jesus were all Jews. In fact: most Christians in the early times were Jews. And in fact: many of the Palestinians now, Muslim or Christian, are the direct descendants of the Jews who were there before, who were before Cananites (and not just "came all from Egypt with Moses").

    Chavez has indeed used anti-Semitism a lot.

    Now: what is Zionism? Is Zionism the establishment of an Israeli state only? Under what borders? With what legal right? And is it Israeli or Jewish?
    What would people say if there were a Hinduist state in India where Hinduism were THE priority? And in the USA if it were Christianity (or a form of it)?

    Is Zionism also the ethnic cleansing of the occupied territories aka Judea and Samaria?
    The West Bank is just a tiny bit larger than Carabobo. It has 2.5 million people. 0.5 of them arrived from Europe, USA, etc since 1967. Imagine you divide Carabobo in tiny pieces and no Venezuelan can move more than 10 kilometers in any direction without having to pass through controls...imagine all around Carabobo are different states. Imagine the guys occupying Carabobo say they are there because otherwise the people of Carabobo can invade Aragua.
    The Jews now are occupying territory against UN resolutions.
    They are taking away people from East Jerusalem houses who have been there since time immemorial, not just since the Muslim conquest in the VI century...curiously people who sometimes are more "Jewish" genetically speaking than people who have been in Europe for almost 2 millenia, mixing more with the Europeans than what they would like to admit (in fact, most mitochondrial DNA of "Jewish communities" is actually European, with a bottle neck around the Middle Ages when Judaism stopped proselitizing).

    What we are having in Palestine now are a lot of people coming from France, from the US, from Russia, stating they have more rights to that piece of land than people whose ancestors were there for thousands of years mostly, just because of a literal interpretation of some parts of a book written 2600 years ago.
    That is mental.

    Is anti-Semitism to denounce that?
    There is a big difference between the very racist book like this
    and one like this. The funny thing is that those who run to criticize Mearsheimer or, say, Robert Fisk, have never taken the time to read through the books of these guys.

    I agree with Syd on all her comments.

    I also think it's sort of sad most US Americans seem to believe a version of the story as portrayed by Leon Uris's best seller "Exodus" and the corresponding Hollywood film.

    History is a little bit more complex than that.

    And yes, Chavismo has used anti-Semitism and that should not be tolerated. But blind support to any one group (ethnic or whatever) is also stupid.
    It is as stupid to give unconditional support to any government in the world, whether it's Israel or Norway or Madagascar. That's for mindless people.
    The Holocaust and any other massive crime in the past do not make any one nation superior or inferior to any other for eternity.

    Everyone should be equal. No one is holier than thou.

  12. Kepler I guess am confused. Why should the Chavista antisemitism not be tolerated as you say; and your scholarly intellectual elitist antisemitism be tolerated?

    1. Ken,
      Evidently, you need simple terms to understand a concept. Can you convert "Chavista" to "Hitlerian" in your question above? Now re-read.

    2. You can do whatever you want, even calling a rainy day or a flower or a stone "anti-Semitic".

      Other people use arguments and can particularly base their statements on sources verified by different groups, not on some interpretation of a religious book.
      What do you know about what is happening in Palestine now? What are your sources?
      When we have a less one-sided view of the world, we have a better position to speak out against extremists of any kind.


  13. Kepler: I am as fed up as you are with the never-ending Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but you know, maybe we have to humbly accept that there are conflicts that we just don't know how to solve, and can only manage, until some very slow moving transformation happens... As far as I am concerned (and I am not a jew) the position that the jewish side should pay war reparations (which is what the right of return of 6 million Palestinians amounts to) is as absurd as having, say, the Indian side, pay war reparations for the bloody India-Pakistan population exchange during that partition. You say everyone should be equal. What about war reparations for the +or- 1 million jewish refugees and their +or- 6 million decendants created during the "Great 20th Century Middle Eastern Jew Cleansing" (that got worse after the creation of Israel and is now being extended to other religious minorities)? Why give Palestinians the privilege (for no other group has gotten this treatment) of being granted "refugee status in perpetuity" (the original +or- 1 million refugees and all their succeeding generations, today +or- 6 million. Why create an agency, the UNRWA, to take care of Palestinian refugees EXCLUSIVELY with aid from the entire world community? I don't blame you for being absolutely nauseated with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but maybe WE, the world community, are contributing to making it eternal? This is hubris, pure and simple.

    1. LT,
      I am not advocating that 6 million people return to what is Israel now.
      The problem is incredibly complex, but I would ask people to pay attention to the details of the affair as stated by the different groups.
      As for the ethnic cleansing: I am not even talking about what happened after the UN partition. No. Just take 1967, way after the massive expulsions on one and the other side: since then 500 000 settlers have got into occupied territory and since then and every single week that passes Israeli forces are throwing out Palestinians from their buildings that they have occupied since OTOMAN times in East Jerusalem, in around Ramallah, etc. The Israelis are building huge walls all over the West Bank arguing that it is to protect the innocent settlers. Well: I reject terrorism of all kind, but why are have those settlers move there in the last few years? With what right? They would have been expelled years ago if they were in the US or in Canada or in Spain if they were to get there and build "settler's houses" and say "this place belong to us because our ancestors were here 2 centuries ago (imagine Mexicans doing that in Los Angeles)

      So: the Israeli forces should get out of the West Bank and respect the borders of 1967, pure and simple. That also goes for the Golan Heights.

      This is OT, so I won't get further into this discussion here, but please: if you have time, read the book Mearsheimer wrote, at least that. I find it incredible how millions upon millions in the US accuse Mearsheimer et alia of anti-Semitic without having read the book...they just take the analysis of right-winged Israeli lobbyists for granted

      So: I am not even talking about 1948. Get out of the land occupied after 1967 in a supposed "defence war".
      You can also read Tom Segev's account, hardly an anti-Semite.
      Or you can buy yourself a ticket and go from Jerusalem to Ramallah and from Ramallah to Nablus.

  14. syd, if (as you say) you don't know the circulation of Kikiriki, why do you assume it's "itty bitty"? Even if it's just a few thousand (and it must be at least that to maintain publication), isn't such blatant Jew-hatred cause for concern?

    1. You're right, Gene. I do assume it's itty bitty, because in all these years, I've never heard of the damned rag. And I don't know what government funding/subsidy Kikiriki receives, but I would urge you to consider that you also may be assuming that a (government-funded) publication (in Venezuela)needs just a few thousand readers to maintain it.

      And yes, blatant hatred towards any culture or religion is cause for concern, whether one is chavista, or Jewish, or Zimbabwean. The key is full disclosure and accuracy in historical and current portrayals, and education, education, education. That goes for everyone that falls prey to "partidismo".

  15. There may be an Israel lobby in the US, but they are not pressing for anything that is against the general will of the American people.Most people I know stand by Israel( although they don't necessarily agree with all its policies), just as many Europeans stand by the Palestinians.

    Why is this so?

    1. antisemitism has never been a big part of our traditions as it has been in Europe.

    2.Most US citizens consider our society to be a Judeo- Christian one and we are a democratic country meaning that the majority has a certain significance.

    3.We don't share the colonial guilt of Europeans that often makes them choose the side of a third world country regardless of not sharing its values.

    4.It is true that there are some extreme religious Jews who try to impose their views on the rest of society, but at least they are not organizing suicide missions yet.

    There are always 2 sides to a war...but sometimes it is appropriate to support one of the 2 parties.That doesn't make either side" holier than thou", but I don't see any hope in this situation as long as people perceive it with this kind of vehemence and accusation.

    A sad situation indeed.



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