On ‘Disingenuous’ Reports of Antisemitic Chavismo

Robin Varghese’s 3 Quarks Daily link (6/30/09) to a Boston Review piece purporting that, “over the past four years, Venezuela has witnessed alarming signs of state-directed antisemitism, including a 2005 Christmas declaration by President Hugo Chavez himself,” has engendered some homespun media criticism from a commenter logged-in as “Pepito,” who argues that “this canard about Chavez and Chavismo being anti-Semitic has been debunked several times in the past, but it comes backs very often.”

In response to the excerpt’s lead example of “15 heavily armed men” who attacked a Caracas synagogue, “held down two guards, robbed the premises, and desecrated the temple” with swastika graffiti, Pepito illustrates exactly “how ridiculously inaccurate that article is” with “a couple of points”:

Not mentioned in that article was that the attack on the synagogue was perpetrated by a band of thieves led by a night guard who had worked at the place for years and who used the anti-Semitic slogans so they could throw off the police investigation. They were captured a few days later with a hundred thousand dollars they had stolen from the synagogue’s vault.

After the attack on the synagogue, Chavez himself talked live on TV to Elias Farache, president of one of Venezuela’s main Jewish associations, and gave him his word that he was not going to tolerate anti-Semitic attacks in his country and that he was going to protect the Jewish community. Farache himself denied the government’s supposed culpability in the attack….

Also, the article does not mention that Fred Pressner, president of [the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela, a group] representative of Venezuela’s Jewish community, repeatedly complained to the Wiesenthal Center, asking them to consult with the Venezuelan Jewish community before accusing Chavez of antisemitism.

Pepito’s parting shot at 3 Quarks Daily and the Boston Review: “Pointing the finger at Chavez’s government for some isolated anti-Semitic events in the street while ignoring the fact that for many years (and before Chavez was elected) there have been small groups with anti-Semitic leanings (usually formed by conservative ultra-Catholics) is disingenuous, to say the least.” See the FAIR Media Advisory: “Editing Chavez to Manufacture a Slur: Some Outlets Spread Spurious Charges of Antisemitism” (1/23/06).