Hugo Chavez and anti-Semitism:
Recently Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez made some remarks regarding Jews that the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles immediatelly denounced as anti-Semitic. Here they are in full:
The world has an offer for everybody but it turned out that a few minorities–the descendants of those who crucified Christ, the descendants of those who expelled Bolivar from here and also those who in a certain way crucified him in Santa Marta, there in Colombia–they took possession of the riches of the world, a minority took possession of the planet’s gold, the silver, the minerals, the water, the good lands, the oil, and they have concentrated all the riches in the hands of a few; less than 10 percent of the world population owns more than half of the riches of the world.
FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) immediatelly released a statement, “Editing Chavez to Manufacture a Slur“, saying that the words were taking out of context:
The biggest problem with depicting Chavez’s speech as an anti-Semitic attack is that Chavez clearly suggested that “the descendants of those who crucified Christ” are the same people as “the descendants of those who expelled Bolivar from here.” As American Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who questioned the charge, told the Associated Press (1/5/06), “I know of no one who accuses the Jews of fighting against Bolivar.” Bolivar, in fact, fought against the government of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, who reinstituted the anti-Semitic Spanish Inquisition when he took power in 1813. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, a Jewish sympathizer in Curacao provided refuge to Bolivar and his family when he fled from Venezuela. Most of the accounts attacking Chavez (the Daily Standard was an exception) left the reference to Bolivar out entirely; the Wiesenthal Center deleted that clause from the speech without even offering an ellipses, which is tantamount to fabrication.
FAIR provides then “the context”:
In context, the Chavez speech seems to be an attempt by Chavez to link the attacks on his populist government to the attacks on his two oft-cited heroes, Jesus and Bolivar; the “minority” that would link the two would be the rich and powerful minority of society. The reference to “less than 10 percent of the world population” owning half the wealth also makes the idea that Chavez was talking about Jews far-fetched; 10 percent of 6 billion would be 600 million people. (According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, there are approximately 15 million Jewish people in the world.)
This strikes me as a lame excuse. But we at the Augean Stables would like to hear your opinion.