Venezuela’s Jewish population has plummeted in the past decade – and in a particularly troubling sign for its future, a significant number of those leaving have been the young.
The country’s Jewish population fell from 18,000 to 9,500 between 2000 and 2010, one of its representatives, Salomon Cohen Botbol, told fellow leaders at a 2010 meeting of the World Jewish Congress. But only now has South America’s Jewish News Agency discovered that “more than half” of Venezuela’s young Jews were among the larger exodus.
The news service doesn’t provide specific numbers or explain how it reached them, but goes on to say that the statistics “raise questions about [the community's] continuity.”
A weak global economy and general instability in Venezuela are partly responsible for the emigration of young Jews, the article says, but anti-Semitism “was a key factor for the many Jews who decided to leave.” The article goes on to detail Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s deep hostility toward Israel, then lists a number of anti-Semitic attacks that have taken place across the country in recent years.
The Jewish News Agency says it is currently working on a series of articles that will more deeply examine the reasons for Venezuela’s Jewish exodus.