ADL Urges Venezuela To Ensure Jews' Safety

Following reports of anti-Semitic graffiti found on a synagogue in Caracas, the ADL condemns the 'troubling' attack.

Cynthia Blank ,

Anti-Israel demonstration (illustration)
Anti-Israel demonstration (illustration)

The Anti-Defamation League sharply condemned Sunday the anti-Semitic graffiti found on a wall of the AIV del Esta Sephardic synagogue in Caracas, Venezuela. 

ADl National Director, Abraham H. Foxman, particularly made clear the responsibility of Venezuela's government in protecting its Jewish community of 7,000 individuals. 

"President Nicolás Maduro and his government are responsible for the safety and well-being of Venezuela’s Jewish community." 

"We respectfully urge the Venezuelan government to take decisive action against such manifestations of anti-Jewish hate and to make it clear to the Jewish community - and all Venezuelans - that anti-Semitism or any form of hate, bias and harassment towards minorities have no place in Venezuelan society and will not be tolerated."

Graffiti included a Nazi swastika and a celtic cross, a symbol used by neo-Nazi organizations. The number "six million" - a reference to the number of Jews murdered during the Holocaust - was spray painted with a question mark. 

The graffiti is believed to have been put up by vandals shortly before morning prayers on December 30. 

Venezuela's Jewish community announced they did not want to get police involved. 

"We are deeply troubled that a synagogue in Venezuela was again the target of an anti-Semitic incident. It is particularly shocking that the graffiti trivializes the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who perished during the Holocaust," Foxman said in a statement.

"This heinous act - deeply offensive to Jews and other survivors - sends a chilling message to the Jewish community in Venezuela and is an affront to all in Venezuela who strive to live in harmony."

"Unfortunately, we have witnessed that anti-Semitic incidents occur far too often in Venezuela.  Despicable acts of intimidation, like this one targeting Jews, contribute to an atmosphere of insecurity."

While Venezuela does not have a long history of anti-Semitism, numbers seem to be growing, particularly in connection to a heightened anti-Israel and anti-Zionist attitude by the government. 

Former President, the late Hugo Chavez, broke off diplomatic relations with Israel following Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, expelling the Israeli ambassador from Caracas. 

Maduro, who took over power after Chavez’s death, was one of several Latin American leaders who slammed the Israeli self-defense Operation Protective Edge last summer.

More recently, Adel Al-Sughayar, a Venezuelan member of parliament, claimed that while Hitler killed Jews during World War II, he did not kill any “Zionist Jews." 

Al-Sughayar added that Hitler's main financiers had been the Zionists

A recent ADL poll found that 30 percent of Venezuelans surveyed harbored anti-Semitic attitudes. 39% percent of Venezuelan respondents had never heard of the Holocaust, and of those who had, 30% believed the number of victims was inflated.