June 4, 2010 – New York – AJC warned today that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's latest incendiary remarks on Israel should be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all members of the Organization of American States.
“Israel finances the Venezuelan opposition, the counter-revolution. There are groups, even Israeli terrorists, the Mossad, that are after me, trying to kill me,” Chavez declared in a speech broadcast live on Venezuelan national television.
Chavez spoke in the wake of Monday’s confrontation in the Mediterranean Sea between a flotilla of supposedly humanitarian aid ships and the Israeli Navy. He accused Israel of committing “a massacre” against “a group of pacifists that were taking a humanitarian load to the Palestinian people who are in Gaza surrounded from every side by Israel. They don’t even allow them water!”
“These baseless accusations by President Chavez are downright dangerous and are used by him to bolster his own political standing,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “The president should first take a geography lesson. Anyone looking at a map can see Gaza is not surrounded only by Israel.
“Further, despite the internationally imposed blockade against the Hamas regime in Gaza, Israel consistently has delivered to the people of Gaza basic humanitarian aid, including food, clothing, and medicine,” said Harris. “In fact, the Washington Post yesterday reported that ‘food and daily goods are plentiful’ in Gaza and ‘pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid in the United States.’”
Chavez frequently demonizes Israel. More than a year ago, Venezuela expelled Israel’s ambassador and severed diplomatic relations. At the same time, Chavez has developed increasingly close ties with Iran, a principal state sponsor of Hamas and other Middle East terror organizations that violently oppose any efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.
“We also are concerned about the cumulative impact of President Chavez’s remarks on the security of his country’s Jewish community,” said Harris.
In January 2009, a synagogue in Caracas was desecrated in an overnight attack. In December 2007, and earlier in 2004, Venezuela police raided the Hebraica, the Caracas complex housing the Jewish community center and school.
AJC maintains a partnership with the Confederación de Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuela (CAIV), the umbrella organization of Venezuelan Jewry, and monitors developments closely in an effort to help ensure the well-being of Venezuela's long-established Jewish community.