CARACAS (JTA) — Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi was welcomed warmly in Venezuela days after slamming Israel in a speech.
Gadhafi was feted in the South American country this week days after slamming Israel at the United Nations General Assembly in a rant that included linking the Jewish state to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Gadhafi traveled to the Venezuelan island of Margarita Sept. 27 to attend the Second Summit of the South featuring 61 heads of state from Africa and South America.
“All of the people of Margarita are filled with jubilation by your presence and offers you this tribute as a show of our love and great affection for the great Libyan nation, the Arab people, the people of Africa and the great Libyan revolution,” said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he draped a sash of the Venezuelan colors around Gadhafi’s neck.
The Libyan leader responded by promising to further bilateral ties between the two oil-producing nations and calling for reforms of the U.N. General Assembly to end its “hegemony” over “the people.”
“For [Chavez], the most important thing is the time that [Gadhafi has] achieved in power,” said Paulina Gamus, the only Jew to have served as a deputy in Venezuela’s National Assembly.
Earlier this year, Chavez won a referendum abolishing term limits for elected officials, paving the way for him to stand for election indefinitely.
The Venezuelan leader, an outspoken critic of Israel, has sought increasingly to form alliances with nations that are both anti-America and anti-Israel, such as Iran and Libya, much to the consternation of the local Jewish population.
“To support someone that denies the Holocaust, this is hate,” said Camila Roffe de Levy, 51, a Caracas biologist, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom Chavez has called a brother. “All the time he is creating hate.”