(JTA) — Anti-Semitism in Venezuela has spiked during the electoral race for president between a Catholic man of Jewish descent and President Hugo Chavez, according to a new report.
State media and supporters of Chavez, who has ruled the country for the past 14 years, regularly “vilify” his opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski, derisively referring to his Jewish roots, a study by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism found.
“This is done in a variety of methods, such as defamation, intimidation and conspiracy theories, many of which portray Capriles as a Zionist agent, and by mixing classic and neo-anti-Semitism,” said the report, authored by Lidia Lerner, an expert on Latin America. “A Capriles victory, it is claimed, will inevitably lead to Zionist infiltration.”
The election is scheduled for Oct. 7.
Op-Eds warning of a “Zionist takeover” if Capriles wins repeatedly have appeared in government-controlled media since Radonski’s candidacy was announced in February, the report said. He also has been the subject of anti-Semitic cartoons.
Radonski was elected to run against Chavez as the representative of the Democratic Unity coalition, a collection of 30 parties that compose the bulk of Venezuela’s opposition. Capriles’ father was a Catholic of Sephardic Jewish descent. His mother’s family was comprised of Eastern European Holocaust survivors. He does not hide his Jewish roots but considers himself a devout Catholic.