In a column written by Adal Hernandez in Radio Nacional de Venezuela this past Monday, the opposition candidate running against President Hugo Chavez in the upcoming presidential election was subjected to heavy criticism due to his religious background. Though a practicing Catholic, Henrique Capriles Rodinski was born to a mother of Sephardic Jewish heritage. The column, as a result, urged voters to reject “international Zionism” and Capriles, a member of “the national Aryan race” whose “platform [opposes Venezuelan] national and independent interests.”
Both the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los-Angeles based Jewish advocacy group, and the Anti-Defamation League released statements decrying the column and asked President Chavez to rid his politics of its anti-Semitic elements.
“Blatant and persistent anti-Semitism is used by President Chavez and his government apparatus as a divisive political tool,” said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the ADL.”What we are seeing at the outset of Venezuela’s presidential elections is an attempt to cast the opposition candidate as a ‘traitorous Jew’ who is unworthy of the presidency.”
Shimon Samuels, the director of international affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, wrote a letter to President Chavez.
“We urge President Chavez to put an end to this campaign that will surely become more threatening as the election date approaches,” it read. “Chavez carries the ultimate responsibility for his own media outlets and can personally stop their hate-mongering.”
Chavez has ruled for the last thirteen years, and these latest instances of anti-Semitic undertones are not the first to surface in association with the leader. According to multiple news sources, Chavez has paid visits to a number of Arab countries in the past and has forged positive relationships with regimes that hold the destruction of the State of Israel as one of their primary objectives. Chavez has employed dirty politics to accomplish his ends in the past, and political commentators have cited the anti-Semitic and prejudicial comments as part and parcel of the Chavez political approach.
“You are not going to be able to disguise yourself, even if you look for advisers, masks. Dress yourself up however you dress yourself up. Pig’s tail, pig’s ears, pig’s nose: It’s a pig,” Chavez said about his opponent.