Chavez talks antisemitism with Venezuelan Jews

By Jennifer Lipman, September 5, 2010
Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez

President Hugo Chávez has agreed to meet representatives of Venezuela’s Jewish community to discuss antisemitism in the country’s state-run media.

David Bittan Obadia, vice president of the Confederation of Israelite Associations of Venezuela (CAIV) said the meeting had been arranged because of concerns about levels of anti-Jewish feeling in Venezuela.

Mr Obadia said: "We do not deem [antisemitism] a state policy, but the government has the tools to stop it.

“We will be very straightforward in expressing our concerns. We can see that the government is willing to cooperate.

"This antisemitism is troubling us all and it needs to cease immediately.”

The meeting is set to take place later in September.

Anti-Jewish sentiment has been a problem throughout the presidency of Hugo Chavez. In his 12 years in power, the populist leftist leader has made speeches accusing "Semitic banks" of sabotaging the economy and lent his support to an indigenous Islamic group known as "Hizbollah Venezuela.”

In June Mr Chavez accused Israel of financing the Venezuelan opposition and said that Mossad were trying to kill him.

Last updated: 1:13pm, November 5 2010