Armed men forced their way into a Caracas synagogue, defacing its administrative offices with anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalizing an interior room where the Torah is kept, officials said.
Vandals smashed items in an interior room where the Torah is kept, officials said.
About 15 men forced their way into the Mariperez Synagogue in Venezuela's capital about 10 p.m. Friday, staying until about 3 a.m., police said. They tied up a security guard at the synagogue before vandalizing the rooms.
Graffiti left at the scene included the phrases "Damn the Jews," "Jews out of here" and "Israel assassins." The men also left behind a picture of a devil, authorities said.
The Jewish community in Venezuela has been very clear: it blames the government under socialist President Hugo Chavez for inciting this type of violence:
The president of the Jewish community in Venezuela on Monday accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of promoting anti-Semitism and giving the phenomenon legitimacy.
Speaking at the World Jewish Congress conference in Jerusalem on Monday, Abraham Levy Ben Shimol said "you probably hear of many anti-Semitic incidents, but where we live, the anti-Semitism is sanctioned; it comes from the president, through the government, and into the media. Since the government is very involved in the day-to-day lives of its constituents, its influence is much more effective."
Chavez had previously demanded with regard to Gaza that Venezuelan Jews speak "out against this barbarism. Do it. Don’t you strongly reject all acts of persecution?" Chavez has been at the forefront of the most hyperbolic and vitriolic condemnations of Israel, for example, claiming that Israel's conduct in the 2006 Lebanon war was worse than Hitler (for the record, the civilian casualty count for that conflict was roughly 1,200 Lebanese citizens killed, 4,400 injured. Israeli civilian casualties were 44 dead, 1,500 injured).
Meanwhile, pro-government forces in the South American nation have their own ideas on how to show "solidarity" with the Palestinians:
- publicly denouncing by name, the members of powerful Jewish groups in Venezuela, names of their companies and businesses in order to boycott them
- avoiding products, stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and where Kosher food is sold which either belongs or has links with 'Zionist Jews'
- questioning the existence of Jewish educational institutions
- shouting pro-Palestine and anti-Israel slogans at Jews on the street
- inviting anti-Zionist Jews living in Venezuela to publicly express their disassociation from 'Zionist war crimes' and the imposition of artificial State of Israel on Palestine
- nationalization of companies, confiscation of properties of those Jews who support the Zionist atrocities of the Nazi-State of Israel, and donate this property to the Palestinian victims of today’s Holocaust
- sending all type of aid to Palestinians including weapons
- hacking pro-Zionist websites including governments or institutions that have relations with Israel
- organizing an international conference about the creation of the theocratic - Nazi state of Israel as a genocidal European colony, and about the myths and facts of the alleged Jewish Holocaust or Holohoax (a blackmailing industry)
- support the dissolution of the artificial State of Israel
Holocaust-denial, at this stage, is simply par for the course. Joyfully arming groups like Hamas, too, seems to satisfy armchair revolutionaries who like the idea of violent conflict so long as other people are the ones shooting and receiving the bullets. The call to start screaming at Jews whenever they dare leave their homes, on the other hand, is a new one on me and represents significant escalation.
Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, but this sort of criticism is, because when anti-Israel criticism reaches the degree of fevered pitch as it has under Chavez, it ceases to represent fair-minded commentary on achieving justice for the inhabitants of Israel and Palestine and adopts a primary function of actively inciting violence and discrimination against Jews worldwide. Hiding behind the banners of "solidarity" or "resistance" or anything else is simply not a defense, nor is crying about how the neurotic Jews are "playing the anti-Semitism card" by preventing people from equating millions of Jews with the Nazis who would have seen them slaughtered.
One cannot say the things Chavez says and then be surprised or defensive when folks start physically assaulting Jews. There is an obligation on those who consider themselves allies of the Palestinians to restrain this sort of rhetoric because it indisputably leads to violence and it indisputably contributes to Jewish oppression. Moreover, the degree to which it is disassociated from any sort of reality concerning Israel/Palestine renders its claims to be "political speech" or "advocacy" virtually null. There is no chance that any informed, progressive-minded policymaker is going to make decisions based on the idea that Israel is a "Nazi state" embarking on a modern "holocaust", and the speakers have to know this. The only purpose for engaging in this sort of rhetoric is to stir up hate -- to render the opposition beyond the pale of humanity, and thus worthy of hatred, discrimination, violence, and ultimately, murder.