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A Perilous Hanukkah with Hugo By: Alex Beech
alexbeech.blogspot.com | Wednesday, December 28, 2005

First, they scared the children.

In November of 2004, at 6:30 am, around twenty police officers arrived at the Club Hebraica in Caracas, which includes a Jewish school. "More than 1,500 students were at school when the raid started,” said Daniel Snimack, president of the Hebrew community in Caracas. According to reports, the raid was ordered after authorities believed that a device used in a recent car bombing had been designed by Israelis. The raid also coincided with a visit to Chavez in Iran. During the raid, the police found nothing, but the Jewish community was “consternated and alarmed.” Despite their outcry, there was little international reaction to the event.

Then they attacked Israel.

As Chavez started intensifying his relationship with Middle Eastern nations, especially Iran, pro-government radio commentators started peppering their shows with anti-Semitic remarks. An email I received from a member of the Confederation of Israeli Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) said that when a letter was sent protesting anti-Semitic remarks by Albert Nolia, the commentator increased his vitriol, “not only against Israel, with all kinds of insults, but against the CAIV board members, calling us bandits, criminals, assassins, etc.”

On September 19, 2005, ranting against the state of Israel on the government station, YVKE, Nolia said, “what is torture in Israel is a lot worse than what was torture in Nazi Germany, and on top of that, in Israel, it’s legal, it’s perfect legal. Why was it worse in Nazi Germany?”

Then they attacked the artists.

When “Secuestro Express”, a hit film which portrayed political violence, became the top grossing Venezuelan film in the country’s history, a government supporter “wrote an article saying the film was being promoted by Zionist Tycoons trying to take Chavez out of power,” according to Jonathan Jakubowicz, the film’s Jewish writer and director. Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel called “Secuestro Express "a miserable film, a falsification of the truth with no artistic value". When the government didn’t introduce the film for an Oscar, a petition gathered thousands of signatures from Venezuela’s film community, among others.

Finally, they attacked all Jews.

Celebrating on December 24, Chavez said ‘Christmas is a rebellious, revolutionary, socialist Christ…the descendants of those who crucified Christ have taken ownership of the riches of the world, and they have concentrated it in a small number of hands.” Chavez said he was “decided” to change history, and he said that every day, he is joined by a “greater quantity of Chiefs of State and leaders in that struggle.” Among those are Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with whom Chavez recently met. On December 14, Ahmadinejad described the Holocaust as "a myth," months after he suggested that Israel should be "wiped off the map."

On this day, December 25, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, let us remember that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were Jewish. If, as a species, we learned only one lesson after World War II, it is that a leader may never discriminate against a race or nation again.

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Alex Beech is a playwright, analyst, poet, and amateur photographer who operates her own blog.

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