In Venezuela, the upcoming presidential election has an interesting twist. Socialist Hugo Chavez, who has ruled the oil-rich South American nation for 13 years, will be opposed by Henrique Capriles Radonski.
Chavez and some of his supporters and allies have waged a vicious anti-Semitic campaign against Capriles. The catch, however, is that Capriles is a practicing Catholic — in an overwhelmingly Catholic country.
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Capriles, 39, who was born in Caracas, is the grandson of Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland who fled Europe during World War II. His maternal great-grandparents died in the Treblinka extermination camp. Regardless of how Capriles identifies himself, his candidacy has unleashed a wave of anti-Jewish sentiments in Venezuela, a country with a long history of anti-Semitism.
While serving as governor of Miranda, Venezuela’s second-largest state, he endured an onslaught of anti-Jewish vitriol from Chavez supporters. […]
Chavez may also have a personal grudge against Capriles. In 2004, Capriles spent four months in jail on charges related to an attempted coup against Chavez two years earlier. In a speech to lawmakers, referring directly to Capriles, Chavez once blustered: “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.”
Moreover, when Capriles ran for governor in 2008, the Chavez-controlled media described Capriles as a member of the “Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie” and bizarrely, even “genetically fascist.” Capriles has even been labeled a “Nazi” by some Chavez cohorts.
“They came here and they called me ‘Nazi,’ when my grandmother was in the Warsaw Ghetto,” Capriles told The Forward newspaper. “My great-grandparents were killed in a concentration camp. My grandmother’s mother and father were killed by the Nazis in Treblinka.” Some publications have even photo-shopped a Star of David onto Capriles’ face. […]
Meanwhile, Chavez has a long and unsavory record against the country’s Jews. Chavez in a Christmas 2005 speech directly attacked the Jews when he ominously said, “Some minorities, the descendants of the people who crucified Christ, [who] seized the riches of the world. … A minority has taken possession all of the wealth of the world.” Chavez has also repeatedly vilified Israel while cultivating close relations with anti-Semites like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. […]
Shimon Samuels, director of international relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, wrote in a letter to Chavez, “We urge President Chavez to put an end to this campaign that will surely become more threatening as the election date approaches. Chavez carries the ultimate responsibility for his own media outlets and can personally stop their hate-mongering.” —- Original article by Palash Ghosh at International Business Times