antisemitism,  International

Arrests made but questions unanswered

The news that 11 persons– including eight police officers– have been arrested for vandalizing a Caracas synagogue last month hardly puts to rest a number of disturbing questions about that antisemitic outrage.

[Justice Minister] Tareck El Aissami said that one of the two security guards on duty during last month’s attack at the Tiferet Israel Synagogue helped intruders by cutting electricity cables feeding an electric fence surrounding the building and deactivating the alarm.

The security guard was among 11 people, including eight police officers, who were arrested over the weekend, El Aissami said.

El Aissami said a city police officer who he said worked as a bodyguard for a local rabbi until December organized the assault.

Authorities are searching for additional suspects, he said.

And the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal reports:

According to a report provided by sources of [the Criminal Investigation Force], the attack was due, unofficially, to the fact that one of the defendants, Edgar Alexander Cordero, an officer of the Metropolitan Police who was also a bodyguard of one of the rabbis of the synagogue, asked him for a loan and when the rabbi refused, Cordero decided to plan the robbery of the synagogue, since he thought that the safes had plenty of money.

Of course these sketchy reports do nothing to confirm Hugo Chavez’s assertion that the vandalizing of the synagogue was the work of his political opposition.

And if it was a simple matter of stealing money, why were antisemitic slogans written on the walls, Torah scrolls desecrated and– most disturbing of all– a computer database with names and addresses of Jews living in Venezuela stolen?

Even if we accept the dubious assertion that this was not a genuinely antisemitic action, it hardly absolves the Venezuelan government of aiding and abetting the hatred of Jews, with no apparent effort by Chavez to control it.

Take, for example, a program on Venezuelan state TV called “La Hojilla” (The Razor Blade), featuring the prominent chavista Mario Silva.

On the January 13 broadcast, Silva referred to a student rally in opposition to Chavez’s proposal for an amendment to abolish term limits. “There are two students, one is Diego Aaron Scharifker, and the other David Smolansky Urosa … . Scharifker and Smolansky are last names of Hebrew origin, Jewish last names, you see the problems right now…”

The Anti-Defamation League website has much more.

Silva, as it happens, was Chavez’s unsuccessful candidate for governor of Carabobo State in last November’s regional elections.

The New York Times reported:

With Mr. Silva trailing in polls ahead of the election, Mr. Chávez threatened to mobilize tanks in Carabobo State in the event of his ally’s defeat, one of many of his menacing comments that linger, as if to remind voters of the vulnerability of their democracy to threats and intimidation.

Until Chavez declares zero tolerance for antisemtism in the government media, and makes a systematic effort to root out Jew-haters like Mario Silva from his ranks, who can take seriously anything he says on the matter?

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