Kibitzing in Caracas
After annoying Catholics during Holy Week, today we turn to a crazy story in the Jewish Journal during the middle of Passover. Apparently, we’re equal opportunity irritants.
Actually, the Venezuelan Jewish leaders quoted in the story all seem pretty darn thoughtful—they may not be Chavez voters, but life is good, business is booming, and as Rabbi Pynchas Brener puts it, "If you're not involved in politics, you don't really feel the regime." Lucky you, rabbi. Wish we could say the same in the States!
But if the locals aren’t interested in labeling Chavez as anti-Semitic, the reporter sure as hell wants to go there. He inexplicably claims that a quote by Argentina’s first lady opposing anti-Semitism “seemed to be a swipe at Chavez” (huh?), and takes pains to link a private newspaper, which ran an anti-Semitic opinion piece, to the government.
But the lamest thing this story does is to dredge up a long-debunked misquote from a Chavez speech two years ago. At the time, an international organization jumped on it as “evidence” of Chavez’s anti-Semitism, but it turns out that they’d personally edited the quote to make it look like Chavez was talking about Jews when he wasn’t. The whole ugly incident prompted Venezuelan Jewish leaders to write a torked-off letter to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, telling them to butt out of “issues that you don't know or understand.”
Another queer-in-the-old-fashioned-sense-of-the-word thing about this story: Everyone quoted was willing to go on the record, except for one fellow who lavishly praised Venezuelan life in the Chavez era. Dude requested anonymity.