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B’nai B’rith International demands that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and those in the government complicit with his expressions of hatred, cease making inflammatory and derogatory remarks against Israel, which has led to incitement and a fear of violence against the Jewish community of Venezuela.

While the Venezuelan government has consistently stoked fear within the country’s Jewish community in the past, Maduro has heightened the anxiety and uncertainty in recent weeks. He has used the conflict in Gaza as a chance to aggressively denounce Israel, reportedly accusing the Jewish state of “a war of extermination against the Palestinian people,” and reportedly comparing Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip to the Nazis at Auschwitz. As a result, anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared in Caracas, vitriol against Jews on social media is raging and a Jewish newspaper’s website was hacked.

“B’nai B’rith, and the Jewish community as a whole, has always been concerned with the Venezuelan government’s incendiary statements and actions against Israel. But in recent weeks we’ve seen Maduro promoting a whole new level of hatred,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The climate he has created is dangerous to the Jews in his country and wholly out of line with a government’s duty to protect its citizens.”

Maduro also called on the Jewish community to stand against “Israel’s policy of extermination of the Palestinian people.” President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello also echoed Maduro’s anti-Israel sentiments, reportedly saying “In Israel, there’s a smell of sulphur, the devil is there.” These statements are then repeated incessantly across state-run media platforms, thus perpetuating this hatred to the masses.

Unsurprisingly, Maduro and members of his government are willfully overlooking the rain of rocket fire Hamas unleashes on Israeli civilians, as well as its use of Palestinian civilians to shield terrorists and armaments.

B’nai B’rith deplores the loss of human life and believes strongly in peace as the only route for progress.

“The comparison of Gaza to Auschwitz alone is a dangerous trope and an outrageous falsehood. When Maduro combines these explosive comments with his own state-media machine and a dangerous political agenda, it creates an alarming situation for the Jewish community in Venezuela,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “B’nai B’rith expresses its solidarity with the Venezuelan Jewish community. We will continue to call attention to and monitor the hate-filled environment that Maduro is intent on fostering.”