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Jewish Groups Protest Venezuela’s Plan to Move Its Israel Embassy

The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC)and the Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Boston (JCC) met with representatives of the Venezuelan government in their respective cities to protest the decision of Venezuela to move its embassy in Israel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

Five members of the JCRC met with Venezuela’s United Nations Ambassador Nava Carillo-Speaking on behalf of JCRC’s 29 member agencies, Rabbi Israel Miller, vice president of JCRC, asked Carillo to convey to his government the deep concern felt by the Jewish community and by many non-Jewish Americans that this decision “was not proper” and would have an effect far more serious than Venezuela perhaps had meant it to have.

Prof. Richard Stone, of Columbia University Law School, pointed out that because Venezuela’s embassy had been in Jerusalem for the past 22 years, “this decision, even in isolation, would have a very damaging effect.” Jacob Kovodloff, the American Jewish Committee’s Latin American affairs director, cited a statement that appeared the same day of their meeting in a Caracas newspaper from former Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rene De Sola describing how he had assured Golda Meir in 1969 that Venezuela would never give in to pressure to move its embassy. Ilana Stern, the JCRC’s international affairs director, noted that Venezuela had resisted Arab pressure in 1958 when it decided to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

The JCC, in a letter to Marcial Perez Chiriboga, Venezuela’s Ambassador to Washington, noted that “the consequences of this decision may well lead to international tensions.” The letter, signed by JCC president Clifton Helman, also stated: “It would appear that your government’s decision represents a gratuitous slap at Israel and a case of ingratiating oneself with the Arab bloc in OPEC. I regret to add that it does not reflect well on Venezuela’s independence of thought. As for Israel’s current wish to formalize the fact that Jerusalem is its capital even while it maintains an open city for all religions, etc., certainly Venezuela cannot quarrel with that.”

Countries which maintain their embassies in Jerusalem are: Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemala, The Netherlands and Uruguay.

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