Synagogue Attack 'Reminiscent of Kristallnacht'

Jewish group denounces Venezuelan government for enabling the recent anti-Semitic attack that plagued country’s largest synagogue.

Rachel Hirshfeld ,

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez

The Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed harsh criticism of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for enabling the recent anti-Semitic attack that plagued the country’s largest synagogue, saying it was “reminiscent of Hitler’s Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938.”

An enraged mob, chanting anti-Israel slogans, launching firecrackers and burning Israeli flags, attacked the Maripérez Synagogue in Caracas on Thursday for the second time since January of 2009.

The crowd swept through the streets shouting “Jews are murderers, damn Jews, stop killing innocent people”, in the most recent hate crime to plague the Venezuelan capital.

“Where was the police protection promised by Chavez?” demanded the Center’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels. “The circumstances are too reminiscent of Hitler’s Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938.”

Since Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took office at the beginning of 1999, there has been an unprecedented surge in anti-Semitism throughout the country.

As Travis Pantin of Commentary Magazine notes, “Government-owned media outlets have published anti-Semitic tracts with increasing frequency. Pro-Chavez groups have publicly disseminated copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the early-20th-century czarist forgery outlining an alleged worldwide Jewish conspiracy to seize control of the world. Prominent Jewish figures have been publicly denounced for supposed disloyalty to the ‘Bolívarian’ cause, and ‘Semitic banks’ have been accused of plotting against the regime.”

“Citing suspicions of such plots, Chávez’s government has gone so far as to stage raids on Jewish elementary schools and other places of meeting,” explains Pantin. “The anti-Zionism expressed by the government is steadily spilling over into street-level anti-Semitism, in which synagogues are vandalized with a frequency and viciousness never before seen in the country.”

Director for Latin America, Sergio Widder, continued to state that the Center “stands in solidarity with the Jewish Community of Venezuela and will continue monitoring a situation that threatens Jews across Latin America.”

“Chávez’ proactive support for Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran consciously incites against Jews everywhere. The ‘Declaration against Antisemitism’ formulated by the Wiesenthal Center and adopted by the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO), endorsed by the Venezuelan Parliamentary delegation morally binds his government to zero tolerance for Jew hatred,” added Samuels and Widder.