Press Release

Venezuelan Presidential Candidate Subjected To Anti-Semitic Attacks

New York, NY, February 17, 2012 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today voiced concern about blatant anti-Semitism in the Venezuelan presidential campaign directed against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, who is running against incumbent Hugo Chávez.

An article published on the web site of the Venezuelan National Radio immediately after Capriles' Feb. 12 primary victory attempted to discredit the candidate's credentials based on his Jewish ancestry. The article, titled "The Enemy is Zionism," also promoted the classic anti-Semitic stereotype of a global Jewish cabal reminiscent of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Comments and postings on other government affiliated and controlled web sites have picked up on the article's anti-Semitic themes.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

As we have witnessed in the past, blatant and persistent anti-Semitism is used by President Chávez and his government apparatus as a divisive political tool to scapegoat Jews. What we are seeing at the outset of Venezuela's presidential elections is an attempt to cast the opposition candidate as a 'traitorous Jew' who is unworthy of the presidency and who, if elected, will subvert the interests of the Venezuelan people for the benefit of some mythic worldwide Zionist plot. 

The people of Venezuela should forcefully reject the tactics of the Chávez regime to recycle classical anti-Semitic canards branding Jews as disloyal, as a menace to the values of the country, as capitalists responsible for the misery of others, and as being part of an international Zionist Lobby.

The anti-Semitic labeling of Capriles, who is a devout Catholic with Jewish ancestry, is not a new phenomenon. Attacks on his Jewish ancestry date to the time when he ran for governor of the State of Miranda in 2008. Yet the stakes are rising now, given his higher profile as a candidate in the crucial 2012 presidential elections.

We urge President Chávez and his supporters to refrain from using anti-Semitism as a political tool. The Venezuelan political campaign has just begun and this early appearance of government-sanctioned anti-Semitism is a deeply troubling sign of the depths that President Chávez is willing to go to retain his oppressive power.