Death of an Antisemite

Hugo Chavez's death marks the end of one of the

world's most prominent and powerful Jew-haters

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The death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on Wednesday has been met with both grief and schadenfreude around the world. Most commentators have concentrated on Chavez's politics, his buffoonish manner, and his furious anti-Americanism. Few have noted that he was also a vicious antisemite.

Chavez's regime was noted for its support for Iran and the Palestinians, as well as Chavez's own hateful rhetoric toward Israel. The Times of Israel quotes a 2009 statement in which Chavez openly accused Israel of genocide, saying

We… are on the side of the Palestinian people’s memorable struggle… against the genocidal state of Israel that knocks down, kills and aims to terminate the Palestinian people.

One of Chavez's closest allies was Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier who has called repeatedly for the slaughter of Israel's Jewish population.

But Chavez's antisemitism was not confined to the issue of Israel. He was just as racist toward his own Jewish community. The Jews of Venezuela were regularly subjected to antisemitic conspiracy theories in the Chavez-controlled media. Chavez's intelligence services kept the Jewish community under surveillance. And when Chavez ran against an opponent of Jewish ancestry, he openly resorted to antisemitic rhetoric.

Many people who claim to be opponents of racism and antisemitism will be singing Chavez's praises in the coming days. True friends of the Jews, however, will probably have something much more concise to say: "May his name be erased."

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