February 2, 2009

*Update: Wiesenthal Center Joins Protest in Front of Venezuelan Consulate in New York

SWC Task Force Director, Mark Weitzman joined the protest in fromt of the Venezuelan Consulate in New York City, February 2, 2009.

February 1, 2009


"Hugo Chavez's demonization of Israel and the Jewish community set the stage for a shocking five hour invasion and desecration of a synagogue in Caracas on the Jewish Sabbath," senior officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center charged. Fifteen armed men forced their way into the Mariperez synagogue Friday night, defacing its administrative offices with anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalizing the synagogue where Torah scrolls are kept, CNN reported. The group broke in about 10:00 p.m. Friday, staying until about 3:00 a.m., police said. They tied up a security guard at the synagogue before vandalizing the rooms. Graffiti left at the scene included the phrases "Damn the Jews," "Jews out of here" and "Israel assassins." The men also left behind a picture of a devil, and stole the synagogue's computers, authorities said.

"This was no mere hate crime from the margins of society, but a reflection of President Chavez's campaign to demonize Israel and her supporters," charged Rabbis Marvin Hier, SWC founder and dean, and Abraham Cooper, associate dean, of the leading Jewish Human rights organization.

"It is frightening to watch the inevitable consequences of Iran's chief ally in the Americas promotion of hatred of the Jewish people escalate into an attack, more reminiscent of Nazi Germany in 1938, than a democracy in 2009. The fact that the members of this synagogue stayed away from services this Friday night out of fear that the anti-Israel campaign had generated says it all."

"For this dangerous escalation of hate against a minority to stop, President Chavez's hate campaign must be denounced by all leaders in the Americas and beyond," they concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036.