Sunday, August 26, 2007

Is Hugo Chavez an anti-Semite?

A recent comment about the alleged anti-Semitism of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (or transcribed as Chavez), which can be found here, got me thinking. I don't ever recall Chavez being accused of anti-Semitism, other of course than predictably in the context of Chavez's fraternising with Iran's Ahmedinejad, something that sends convulsions through the winger's ranks (and perhaps rightly so?)

David commented:
It has also been reported that official anti-Semitism is on the rise perhaps explained by Chavez's close relationship with the late Argentine Holocaust denier Norberto Ceresole, who was close with French fascist Robert Faurisson (who was once defended by Chomsky).

Having almost no information about this issue, my first port of call was a Google for the query chavez anti-semitic.

That unearthed a story which must have bypassed me entirely and which David also didn't make reference to. Chavez made a speech which, according to some, contained anti-Semitic references. The offending quote in question, here pulled out of context was:
"The world offers riches to all. However, minorities such as the descendants of those who crucified Christ"

A multitude of mainstream media and some bloggers ran with this story (consult the Google search results for examples) with varying degrees of vilification.

A few websites seem to disagree with this interpretation. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, stated in a piece called
Editing Chavez to Manufacture a Slur that:
That Chavez's comments were part of some anti-Semitic campaign is directly contradicted by a letter sent by the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela to the Wiesenthal Center (AP, 1/14/06). "We believe the president was not talking about Jews," the letter stated, complaining that "you have acted on your own, without consulting us, on issues that you don't know or understand." The American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress agreed with the Venezuelan group's view that Chavez was not referring to Jews in his speech (Inter Press Service, 1/13/06).

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting also quote Arthur Waskow in the reference below.

The Shalom Center (, dedicate rather more effort to the incident,
Dear Friends,

This message raises some serious doubts about a claim put forward by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela spoke an anti-Semitic slur this past Christmas Eve in a speech to a Venezuelan rehab center.

My own analysis of the full text of the talk, together with correspondence I have now had with North Americans who are in Venezuela, cast great doubt on the charge.

I am not absolutely certain the charge is wrong, but I think it probably is, and should be further investigated before being propagated. Already, however, some other Jewish organizations have leaped on this JTA article to attack President Chavez.

I think the charge itself may, if incorrect, bring about great and unnecessary hostility between North American Jews and Chavez and his supporters throughout the Americas.

I wrote privately to urge JTA to explore the issues further through good journalism; my urgings were utterly rejected. So I am more publicly sharing this concern and my own effort at serious investigation (in what I see as the best version of Jewish journalism).

Shalom, Arthur
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The Shalom Center

Here is the story:
Article continues here and includes Spanish original of Chavez's speech.

With regards to Norberto Ceresole, I must again profess to complete ignorance of this character and his friendship with Hugo Chavez. From Wikipedia:
Norberto Rafael Ceresole (Buenos Aires, August 1943 - May 4, 2003) was an Argentine sociologist and political scientist, who identified himself with Peronism, left-wing militias and the ideas of his friends Robert Faurisson, Roger Garaudy and Ernst Nolte. He was accused throughout his life of being neo-fascist and anti-semitic [1] because of his Holocaust denial[2] and hatred of Zionism, Israel and the Jewish community.


His reappearance in Venezuela after Chávez came into power, his close relations with senior members of the government and the publication of a book dedicated to Chávez while he was in the country with the title Caudillo, Ejército, Pueblo: la Venezuela del Comandante Chávez (1999) (published first in Madrid then in Beirut in Arabic and then reprinted in Caracas), created a wave of concern from all sides of Venezuelan society until, at the end of 1999, he was asked by Luis Miquilena, then vice-president, to leave the country. Miquilena later declared that Ceresole left by his own initiative [3] while Ceresole declared that he was forced by Jesús Urdaneta (head of the DISIP) paid 10,000$ by Miquilena to leave[4].


José Vicente Rangel later denied any ideological influence on Chávez's administration [7] while in the 1998 book Habla el Comandante (p.382) [8] Chávez said that he "was reconsidering the ideas of Norberto Ceresole, in his works and studies, where he planned a project of physical integration in Latin America...this will be a project which will integrate the Continent along Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina and their ramifications".


On his return to Argentina Ceresole became an advisor to the Peronist politician Adolfo Rodríguez Saá and, once again, to Aldo Rico, whom he was helping in his campaign to become Governor of Buenos Aires Province. Ceresole died in Buenos Aires a few months later.


In May 2006, President Chávez confirmed his relationship with Ceresole during the broadcast of his weekly program Aló Presidente #255[9]. He remembered him as a "great friend" and as an "intellectual deserving great respect" and recalled a meeting with him in 1995 near the Orinoco river in which they talked about the strategic location of Venezuela and the importance of focusing his future policy on South America instead of North America.

This leaves no doubt as to the friendship between Chavez and Ceresole. And as regards Ceresole's anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, his own defence places him firmly in the dock:

From Salon (Ceresole's words):
“Of course I am not “anti-Semitic” nor am I “neo-Nazi” Recently a serious magazine, the pretended Spanish language version of Foreign Affairs, (Política Exterior, Madrid, noviembre-diciembre de 1999, p.32, Vol.XIII, Nº 72) defined me as a «montonero», the ultra left of Peronismo in the seventies

I am, that I am, a critic of the State of Israel and of the international Jewish organizations, to which I have devoted my last few books. I consider myself part of a new revionism whose objective is to demonstrate:

1. That an important part of the canonical tale of deportation and death of the Jews under the Nazis has been arranged in the form of a myth.

2. That such a myth is utilized to preserve the existence of a colonial enterprise endowed by a religious ideology (monotheistic and mythic-messianic): the disownership by Israel of the Arab Palestine

3. That that myth is also utilized to financially blackmail the German state, other European states and the US Jewish community in the US and other countries with significant Diasporas.

4. That the existence of this political enterprise (Israel a power shaped under the monopoly of monotheism and implemented by an army, various police forces, jails, tortures and assassinations) looks to consolidate itself via a series of ideological manipulations in the bosom of the hegemonic power of the US, which procures by any means to be accepted about the owner of the world using generalized terror and also via dissuasive and persuasive practices.”

Yep, unadulterated anti-Semitic conspiracy theory alright.

Perhaps against better judgement, I'll reserve the right to further investigate Chavez's alleged anti-Semitism but that the man has some seriously dubious friends is not in doubt anymore...


At 2:34 PM, Blogger Anonymous, for now. said...

See here for a number of examples of anti-semitism in Venezuela's official press.

At 12:49 AM, Blogger Mad Zionist said...

Gert, connecting the dots to Ceresole alone makes it irrefutable that Chavez is an anti-Semite. No need to wait for the right wing to validate the obvious for you, it seems you already have come to figure it out for yourself.

At 6:25 AM, Blogger Frank Partisan said...

Look up my post about anti-semitism and Chavez at my blog and read the comments. It was the first big fight that ever occured. It paved the way for how my blog and Sonia's evolved.


Post a Comment

<< Home