RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Venezuela’s umbrella Jewish organization slammed a weekly magazine with a recent cover blaming “rabbis” and “Israelites” for an illegal money exchange scheme at a governmental agency.
The Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela, or CAIV, sent a letter to the editor of Las Verdades de Miguel, or The Truths of Miguel, to condemn the magazine, which showed a caricature of an Orthodox Jew speaking on a cellphone with a Star of David made of dollar bills at his side, the Radio Jai news service reported Friday.
The headline on the cover of the magazine, which was released Aug. 12, read in Spanish: “Foreign exchange to Israel: The rabbis of CADIVI.” CADIVI is Venezuela’s Foreign Exchange Administration Commission, from which billions in cash may have been swindled in a wide-ranging corruption scheme.
Companies run by people of “Israelite origin” led the scheme, the magazine charged.
“According to our obligation to combat any anti-Semitic expression, we point out the cover is a replica of anti-Semitic pamphlets and lampoons,” CAIV said in its letter.
“The use of the term ‘Israelite’ referring to the alleged Jewishness of people and companies is simply defamatory and anti-Semitic. As an institution of our community, as Venezuelans, we wish that all illicit activities be investigated and eventually punished under the criminal law,” the letter continued.
“The misuse of terms associated with the Jewish people such as ‘rabbis,’ ‘Israelites’ and ‘Israel’ has been dangerous and historically tragic and perverse. They reveal an anti-Semitic bias that we should note and denounce without hesitation for they can put at risk the physical integrity of our community’s members.”
Anti-Semitic rhetoric was often employed by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to deflect criticism from the country’s deep financial crisis and charges of corruption.
Venezuela is home to some 9,000 Jews, down from about 25,000 in 1999. Many Jews left, mainly for Florida and Israel, due to a deteriorating financial and social climate, along with a growing anti-Semitic environment established under the Chavez and Nicolas Maduro regimes.