Jews fleeing Venezuela

It’s been known for several year, though little reported, that there’s a strong anti-Semitic element to Hugo Chavez’s "Bolivarian revolution" in Venezuela. Back in 2005, Thor Halvorssen wrote an article for The Weekly Standard discussing the fascist essence of "Chavismo" and Chavez’s Argentine mentor, the openly anti-Semitic Holocaust denier Norberto Ceresole:

Chávez first ran for president on a reform platform, winning in a landslide. What few understood then was that Chávez planned to revolutionize the country following a plan masterminded by his longtime friend Norberto Ceresole, an Argentinian writer infamous for his books denying the Holocaust and his conspiracy theories about Jewish plans to control the planet.

The title of Ceresole’s 1999 book on Chávez and Venezuela, Caudillo, Ejército, Pueblo ("Leader, Army, People"), eerily recalls the German national socialist maxim, "One People, One Country, One Leader." (The first chapter is titled "The Jewish Question and the state of Israel.") After denying the Holocaust, he explains that the greatest threat to Chavismo comes from the Jews of Venezuela. A self-described Communist and fascist, Ceresole became an expert in national socialism after designing Juan Domingo Perón’s electoral platform in Argentina. In Ceresole’s hands, representative democracy mutates into "participatory" systems led by cult-like figures; tellingly, Chávez praises the "participatory democracy" of Libya, Syria, Iran, and Cuba. Ceresole’s structure channels the people’s will through the charismatic strongman; the military functions as the central political body. Ceresole’s roadmap for Venezuela suffered some setbacks, including a 2002 coup that displaced Chávez for 48 hours and a national strike that almost toppled the government. But Venezuela’s dramatic political metamorphosis was nonetheless complete by the time Ceresole died in 2003.

Ceresole may have died, but the fascism and anti-Semitism he inspired in Chavez lives on. David Hazony at Contentions reports that things have grown so bad that the Jews are fleeing Venezuela:

In 2002, Jews were accused of being behind a coup attempt. Last year, Chavez accused Venezuelan Jewish leaders of disloyalty to the country, and began speaking out viciously against Israel, insisting that Mossad agents were trying to topple him. State-run television has been pretty free with anti-Semitic rhetoric and anti-Israel propaganda. And last month, armed policemen raided the Jewish communal center in Caracas, looking for arms and evidence of subversive activity, which they failed to find. It was the second such raid in four years, and Jewish leaders, who until now have tried their best to maintain smooth relations with Chavez, have finally lashed out. “We’re facing the first anti-Jewish government in our history,” the head of the center told the Forward. Since Chavez’s election in 1998, the Jewish population in Venezuela has dropped from 16,000 to about 12,000, and the emigration continues apace.

A Jewish friend once told me that the Jews are civilization’s "canaries in the coal mine." When their community faces persecution, it’s a warning sign for everyone else. Some people dismiss Chavez as a crass moron: that may be true, but I wouldn’t dismiss him so easily. With the money he rakes in from oil; the vast amounts he spends on weapons and subsidies to friendly regimes, such as Cuba; his growing ties with Iran and his virulent anti-Americanism; and his efforts to spread his "revolution" across Latin America, we would do well to listen to what the "canaries" are trying to tell us.

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