Before the December 2nd vote on the referendum changing the constitution to expand Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s powers and cement his plan to transform the South American major oil producer into a socialist utopia, his armed security agents raided a Jewish center in Caracas, Club Hebraica. They were supposedly searching for arms and none were found.
The New York Times reported this event and the condemnations of Jewish leaders in Venezuela and abroad on page 8 of my print edition. See Simon Romero’s account http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/world/americas/05briefs-jewish.html.
The Anti-Defamation League www.adl.org, which combats anti-Semitism worldwide, issued a statement http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ASInt_13/5187_13.htm condemning this action of the Chavez regime, which is not an isolated incident.
The statement is worth close examination. "We are outraged by the inexplicable raid on Club Hebraica and are deeply concerned that the Jewish community in Venezuela is once again the target of intimidation," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Such tactics have no place in a democratic society where civility, liberty and social justice should prevail."
The raid on La Hebraica occurred on the eve of December 1 — just hours before Venezuelans went to the polls to vote on constitutional changes proposed by President Hugo Chavez. Members of a police unit that investigates drug trafficking and terrorism reportedly broke the main gate and searched the premises, but made no arrests.
ADL’s November 2006 report on anti-Semitism in Venezuela found that the Jewish community is routinely the target of verbal intimidation in the government-sponsored media and is often scapegoated by government officials for some of the problems in Venezuelan society.
In a letter to President Hugo Chavez in response to the raid, ADL wrote, "It is troubling that anti-Semitism continues to be used as a political tool in your country. "There is a danger that acts by law enforcement officers, such as the raid on Club Hebraica, may be interpreted by others to justify violence against Jews in Venezuela," wrote Messrs. Lewy and Foxman.
"We join the Confederaction Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuela (CAIV) in their denunciation of the raid as an unjustifiable act against the Venezuelan Jewish community. We join them in their call to investigate these acts which create unnecessary tensions between Venezuelan Jews and the Venezuelan government"
Although many Jews have been attracted to socialism due to its promise of a better world and a society without ethnic divison, many have found that socialists around the world have intentionally or unintentionally exacerbated anti-Semitism. Karl Marx, while born Jewish, wrote his essay "On the Jewish Question" which can be read as anti-Semitic.
The class warfare and nationalist rhetoric of socialist buffoons such as Hugo Chavez, like that of Juan Peron in Argentina, spark anti-Semitic expressions and violence where Jews of Eastern European origin are seen as class and national enemies. T
The great economist Ludwig von Mises contended in "The Clash of Group Interests" that "Our age is full of serious conflicts of economic group interests. But these conflicts are not inherent in the operation of an unhampered capitalist economy. They are the necessary outcome of government policies interfering with the operation of the market. They are not conflicts of Marxian classes. They are brought about by the fact that mankind has gone back to group privileges and thereby to a new caste system."
As the joyous Hannukah holiday begins, give a thought to the threatened Jewish community in Venezuela and to the liberties of all Venezuelans, even those deluded by Chavez and the socialists. -30-
(Richard Cooper is an export/import manager with a manufacturing firm on Long Island, NY. He is the former chair of the Libertarian Party of New York www.ny.lp.org and blogs at www.mythsmasher.blogspot.com)
The Libertarian Party of New York will present Venezuelan freedom activist Thor Halvorssen of the Moving Pictures Institute www.thempi.org to speak on "Films and Freedom" at its next state convention, Saturday, April 26th in Flushing, New York. His presence should not be considered an endorsement of the Libertarian Party by him or his organization, nor vice versa.