17 January 2006

Nearly a month after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made his Christmas Eve address to his nation, which included his debated comment that, “‘minorities, the descendants of those who crucified Christ, have taken over the riches of the world,'” the conservative Opinion Journaland Weekly Standard have appointed themselves defenders of the Jews, and — paying no attention to the protests of the actual Jewish community of Venezuela, as well as two major U.S. groups — have declared Chavez an anti-Semite on the scale of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, theholocaust-denying president of Iran. The conservative press articles, which charge anti-Semitic links not just between Chavez and Ahmadinejad, but also Chavez and Hitler — with a swipe at their real target, Chavez’s leftist labor policies — is, in the opinion of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (and the AJCommittee and the American Jewish Congress), deliberately taking Chavez’s words out of context, and distorting the meaning of a what should be read as a criticism of “the white oligarchy that has dominated Venezuela’s and South America’s economy since colonial times,” and that Chavez’s full remarks blame the same metaphorical “descendents” for “crucifying” South American revolutionary, Simon Bolivar. Jim Lobe, who delivers a thoughtful run-down of the story for The Inter Press Service News Agency, notes the further irony that, when confronted with a real instance of anti-Semitism in South America — in 1980, when Argentine publisher Jacobo Timerman emerged from prison to testify that the treatment of Jews in secret government prisons was akin to Hitler’s concentration camps — it was the same Wall Street Journal editorial page, together with the father of The Weekly Standard’s current editor, William Kristol, who engaged in a campaign to discredit Timerman’s claims. But hey, why let a history of disingenuous propaganda claims influence one’s opinion of WSJ and Weekly Standard motives today?