AJC Leadership Delegation Completes Visit with Venezuela Jewish Community

AJC Leadership Delegation Completes Visit with Venezuela Jewish Community

March 4, 2009 – Caracas – An AJC leadership delegation has completed a two-day solidarity mission to Caracas.

The visit expressed support for the Venezuelan Jewish community, following recent attacks on two synagogues. These attacks on Jewish houses of worship came amid rising anti-Semitism in the Venezuelan media, and a growing climate of intimidation fostered by the Chavez government.

Venezuela’s Jewish community has firm roots with a rich history,” said Dina Siegel Vann, director of AJC’s Latino and Latin American Institute. “The current climate of insecurity is untenable, and we will continue to seek an end to this outrageous campaign of hostility against the Jewish population.”

The Confederación de Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuela (CAIV), the Jewish community’s umbrella organization, hosted the AJC visit, which included a dinner with 100 leaders of the Jewish community. While in Caracas, the AJC delegation met privately with the ambassadors of Brazil, France, the Czech Republic, which holds the EU Presidency, and Canada, which represents Israeli interests since the Chavez government broke relations with Israel. The delegation also visited with officials at the U.S. Embassy.

“We are confident that countries around the world with representatives in Caracas understand the dangerous game the Chavez government has been playing by intimidating the Jewish community,” said Siegel Vann. “AJC, founded in 1906 to assure the security of Jews worldwide, will not tolerate the harassment of Venezuela’s Jews.”

The main synagogue in Caracas was vandalized in January, with ritual objects thrown on the floor and epithets against Jews scrawled on the sanctuary walls. Last week, a bomb was tossed at the gate of another synagogue. In both incidents, no one was hurt. These recent attacks come after a number of incidents, including police raids in 2004 and 2007 on Hebraica, the Caracas complex housing the Jewish community center and school.

During their visit, the AJC delegation learned that a government subsidized orchestra which was to play at a production of Fiddler on the Roof decided to back out because of the Jewish content of the play. “From vandalism of the synagogue to Fiddler on the Roof, we are witnessing a climate of hostility and intolerance in a country that used to be a model of inclusion and mutual respect,” said Siegel Vann.

CAIV is one of AJC’s 28 international partners. This week's visit was AJC’s fourth since 2004. The delegation also included the president of the Colombian Jewish community and the vice president of AMIA, the Argentine Jewish organization, also an AJC international partner. 

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