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Rosales apologises to Venezuela's Jewish Community

By Aleksander Boyd

One of many such posters of Chavez and Ahmadinejad in Avenida Sucre, Catia (Caracas).

Caracas 31.10.06 | We were driving along Avenida Sucre in Catia -West Caracas- and the poster above caught my attention. The area has some Lebanese, Arab and Turkish businessmen -hence chavismo's decision to put many posters of Ahmadinejad and Chavez presumably in Arabic and not in Farsi- however it is difficult to imagine them supporting Iran's deranged president, a man that has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel. And the picture came as a prelude to what will come later in the day; i.e. the meeting that presidential candidate Manuel Rosales had with a rather large representation of Venezuela's Jewish community. "I apologise today to all of you, to the people of Israel, on behalf of all Venezuelans, for the aggressions and verbal attacks that you have suffered from this government. We did not do it, Venezuela did not do it, Venezuelans aren't like that" stated Rosales.

Before Rosales made his appearance I heard one of the speakers say that Venezuela had been the only country in the world to have severed diplomatic ties with Israel in the aftermath of the conflict with Lebanon. Hugo Chavez has made a great effort in showing absolute support for Ahmadinejad and the Islamofundamentalist Iranian Mullahs. "He wants to be more fundamentalist than the real ones" remarked the speaker. In Caracas' Jewish circles this is perceived as a huge mistake that has had a tremendously negative impact for the image of the Bolivarian globetrotter. The regime, having realised the consequences of halting diplomatic relations with Israel, is in the process of sending a diplomatic envoy to Israel -whose name is still unknown- to mend the situation.

Venezuela's Jewish community is, understandably, very worried about Chavez's militaristic and totalitarian behaviour. Of great concern also is the presence of Hezbollah in Venezuela. Rosales was asked about this issue in the Q&A session. He relayed that the rumours about Hezbollah's penetration of certain indigenous communities of Zulia state are true, as far as intelligence reports furnished to him as Zulia's Governor go.

After a brief historic mention of how the first Jews came to Venezuela via Curaçao, Rosales delivered one of the best speeches I have heard of him for the last six weeks. He called upon the steadfast commitment to freedom that has characterised the Jewish community, asking for collaboration, advice, and help, "you have overcome greater enemies" he said. He addressed the crowd as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters of this country with the shared responsibility of saving its ailing democracy.

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