Governor of the Venezuelan Miranda state, Capriles, who is a Roman Catholic, is the grandson of Holocaust survivors. He has been attacked in the past because of his Jewish roots but now that he has positioned himself as Chavez’s contender in the presidential race, things took a turn for the worse. Government-sponsored anti-Semitism in Venezuela has escalated by employing classical anti-Semitic canards.
“The Venezuelan media’s continual hateful rhetoric against Capriles has focused on his Jewish heritage which is a clear appeal to hatred,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “Unfortunately, the Chavez government not only permits but encourages and endorses this widespread use of anti-Semitism in the Venezuelan media and will seemingly continue to do so during this current presidential campaign.”
Immediately after Capriles won the Feb. 12 opposition primary, the onslaught of condemnation of Capriles from the Chavez government and media began. Chavez called him a “low-life pig.” There has also been a flood of messages on Twitter from government officials and journalists in state-owned media charging Capriles as a hypocrite who hates Jesus, equating Zionism with Nazism and expressing delight that so many people are attacking Zionism. One Twitter message, from Enrique Remlawi, the director of a Venezuelan government agency, used vulgar language to convey that Jews should thank Hitler for today’s “opinion that calls them victims.”
A Feb. 13 article on the state-run Venezuela National Radio titled “The enemy is Zionism,” conflates Zionism and Judaism in a disparaging manner while simultaneously portraying Capriles’ platform as contrary to the interests of the Venezuelan people. It called on voters to reject “international Zionism, which threatens the destruction of the planet we inhabit” and instead choose “the Bolivarian revolution which claims the Latin American unity.”
And in a recent televised speech, Chavez once again compared Capriles to a pig and accused him of hiding his ideological leanings. Chavez has also portrayed Capriles as a foreigner, not suited to represent the interests of Venezuelans.
“This is a deeply troubling and blatant attempt to utilize age-old anti-Semitic canards to cast the opposition candidate as someone behind a Zionist conspiracy set to disparage the Venezuelan people,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “We will continue to monitor the situation as the elections approach and speak out against these state-endorsed attacks.”