Venezuelan Jews Fear for Future
Hugo Chavez may be gone, but the Jews of Venezuela are not resting any easier. Over the weekend, anti-Semitic graffiti was found scrawled on the walls and doors in the San Bernadino section of Caracas, the country's capital city. The graffiti contained messages such as “Jews are murderers, Jews out,” and several comments that implied that it was the Jews who were responsible for the death of Chavez.
This is not the first time since Chavez died last month that such messages have been projected on walls, flyers, and even in the media. The level of anti-Semitism in Venezuela has risen since Chavez's death, making the Jewish community even more uncomfortable and insecure than it had been.
Nicolas Maduro, who has been interim president of the country since Chavez's death, is an especially threatening figure for Venezuelan Jews. He has been very forthright in his disapproval of Jews and Israel. Among other things, he accused Israel and the U.S. of targeting Chavez, killing him with poison, as, he claimed, they did to Yasser Arafat.
As a result, Jewish community members and officials have canceled some community events, among them a reception for a new Torah scroll that had been set to be donated to the central synagogue in Caracas.
Caracas police have promised to investigate the graffiti incidents, and said that they would not allow anyone to act violently against Jews, or any other group, in the country. Jewish community officials said that they hoped that the events would not recur.