The Anti-Defamation League expressed its disgust on Wednesday over a Venezuelan magazine’s use of anti-Semitic imagery on its cover last week.
On August 12 the popular magazine Las Verdades de Miguel (“The Truths of Miguel”) reported on alleged illicit use of foreign exchange by companies it said were run by people of “Israelite origin.”
The image emblazoned on the magazine’s cover featured a picture of an ultra-Orthodox Jew with a Star of David made of dollar bills, with the headline “The Rabbis of Cadivi” — refering to Venezuela’s government body which deals with currency exchange.
“For several years, we have seen anti-Semitic accusations and themes appear in Venezuelan public discourse,” said ADL chief Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “This shockingly graphic manifestation of anti-Semitic imagery on full display on Venezuelan newsstands is unacceptable and repulsive.”
Venezuela has been gripped by a severe economic crisis in the past couple of years, exacerbated by a plummet in the price of oil. Venezuela’s economy is projected to contract 8 percent this year after a 5.7 percent fall in 2015, with food and medical supply shortages and rampant triple-digit inflation burdening most citizens.
“At a time when all of Venezuela feels the impact of a serious economic hardship, this magazine cover not only feeds into base, age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and unscrupulous behavior towards money, but dangerously points the finger at Jews for taking advantage of this crisis and deepening the economic instability for their benefit,” Greenblatt said. “Such manifestations lead to the worsening of the Venezuelan Jewish community’s sense of isolation and insecurity.
Venezuela has been plagued by government-sponsored anti-Semitism. The late president Hugo Chavez made frequent use of anti-Semitic tropes to critique his opponents, accusing them of Zionist ties. He had the country’s intelligence service spy on the country’s Jewish community, and state radio was often used to spread anti-Semitic canards.
In a 2012 presidential campaign which Chavez won, state-run media urged Venezuelans to reject “international Zionism.” Chavez himself claimed Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency was out to kill him.
During the years of Chavez rule, Jewish organizations developed a plan in concert with local Jews for the evacuation of the country’s Jewish community should the need arise.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the number of Jews in the country has been halved to less than 10,000.
In May the country’s ambassador to the United Nations compared Israel to the Nazi regime, asking whether the Jewish state planned to “wage a final solution” against the Palestinians. He later apologized.
A recent ADL poll showed that 30 percent of those surveyed in Venezuela harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.