Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, known for his close relationship with Iran and adversarial one with Israel, died Tuesday at 58 following a two-year battle with cancer.
Chavez in 2006, during the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, was the first head of state to condemn Israel’s actions. In reaction to the Gaza flotilla incident, Chavez shouted,“Damn you, State of Israel!” In 2009, when Israel responded militarily to Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, Chavez told the French newspaper Le Figaro that Israel had launched a “genocide” against the Palestinians, saying. “The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians. They’re doing it openly.”
“Chavez will probably be remembered as the one who made Venezuelan Jews feel that for the first time they were not welcome in their own country, a chilling reminder of past tragedies,” Sammy Eppel, director of the Human Rights Commission of B’nai B’rith Venezuela, told JNS.org columnist Ben Cohen in January.
After Chavez’s death, B’nai B’rith International said in a statement to JNS.org March 6 that it “hopes for a positive democratic outcome and for peace for the people of Venezuela in the wake of the death of Hugo Chavez...more.
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