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June 11, 2020 2:16 pm

Venezuelan Regime Still Pushing Antisemitism Disguised as Anti-Zionism, Says New US State Department Report

avatar by Ben Cohen

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) embraces Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a meeting in Caracas. Photo: Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins.

Antisemitic statements dressed in the guise of attacks on Israel and Zionism were a consistent feature of the Venezuelan regime’s rhetoric during 2019, the US State Department’s annual report on religious freedom around the world released on Wednesday disclosed.

“Some members of the Jewish community stated the de facto government and those sympathetic to it used anti-Zionism to mask anti-Semitism,” the report remarked. Editorials in media outlets aligned with President Nicolas Maduro’s authoritarian government had “accused Juan Guaido, president of the National Assembly and recognized by the United States as the legitimate interim president, and Guaido-nominated representatives, as agents or lobbyists of Zionism.”

The report noted as well that representatives of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) said that “de facto government-owned or -associated media and government supporters again denied or trivialized the Holocaust, citing media reports of Maduro’s comparing sanctions against Venezuela to Nazi persecution of Jews.”

The trope that Venezuela had been victimized by a powerful global Jewish conspiracy was very much in evidence, the report observed.

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“The CAIV representatives said many private citizens in addition to government officials continued to believe members of the Jewish community maintained direct lines of communication with the White House and placed U.S. interests above those of the country, which made them concerned their community could become targets of antisemitic acts,” the report said.

Several of the Maduro regime’s leading personalities had pushed exactly this notion, the report noted.

“In a February interview, Maduro said Interim President Juan Guaido served the interests of the Zionists. During a June 26 television broadcast, president of the Constituent National Assembly (ANC) Diosdado Cabello stated the de facto government had disrupted an alleged Zionist coup against Maduro on June 24,” the report recalled.

Additionally, Cabello characterized “charges of narcotics trafficking and money laundering against former vice president and current Minister of Industry and National Production Tarek Zaidan El Aissami” — who was designated by the US Treasury Department in Feb. 2017 — “as a campaign of the ‘Zionist Lobby.'”

From a peak of 25,000 during the 1990s, Venezuela’s Jewish community presently numbers less than 6,000. Antisemitism, frequently expressed through hostility to Israel, was a factor under Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, who cultivated close relations with Iran and Hezbollah and broke off diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in 2008.

While regime officials have generally taken care to substitute the word “Jew” with “Zionist,” other supporters of Maduro have been less concerned with semantics. One tweet by a “revolutionary communicator” quoted in the State Department report declared: “What a coincidence that the first gringo [US] Senators who have come out to support Guaido are all members of the Oil-Financial-Jew lobby. Vultures begin to fly over Venezuela.”

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