More Letters on Venezuelan Policy and the Anti-Semitism Debate

Below, COHA publishes another selection of the letters which it received in response to its two recent articles on Venezuela, “Venezuelan Synagogue Vandalizing Takes New Turn,” and “Venezuela’s New Constitutional Reform 2009.”
-COHA Staff


February 16, 2009

We think that the COHA team deserves credit for the publication of the letters concerning Chavez- antisemitism and for the open dialogue concerning the other Chavez article.

It shows that the institution is intrested in information exchange and are willing to receive some criticism.

Not the same can be said about many other Think Tanks.

Congratulation for your openness. Very rare in American institutions.

Barbara Schieber
Guatemala Times


February 13, 2009

Regarding Venezuela, you write: “The police officers who attacked the synagogue ‘seem to be’ part of a growing and increasingly radicalized leftist group of ostensible government supporters.” Seems indicates there is no hard evidence that this is so.

According to the Venezuelan government, this was a robbery disguised as a hate crime in order to implicate the government and divert attention from the officers.

We have no way at this point to know which designation is true. You should offer both explanations until the truth becomes evident.

Linda Weltner


12 February, 2009

Press Statement


The Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS) wishes to condemn the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) anti-Semitic depictions of President Hugo Chavez and his Government.

On Feb. 11 the respected progressive group Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) released a reprehensible report charging Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with anti-Semitism in the wake of a contemptible incident of vandalism of a Caracas synagogue last week. Today, the Washington Post published one of its standard overwrought editorial attacks on Venezuela as its lead editorial using the same theme. With the Feb. 15 vote in Venezuela on a referendum to end term limits rapidly approaching, there is no doubt that the enemies of peace and progress would accelerate their criminal attacks against President Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan Government. In the wake of Venezuela’s courageous expulsion of Israel’s ambassador in protest of Israel’s crimes against humanity in Gaza, including the use of white-phosphorous in civilian areas and the targeting of civilian areas and buildings, the scurrilous charge of anti-Semitism has become the latest weapon both for those who want to bring down Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and those who defend Israel’s crimes against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS) calls on all Governments and people of goodwill to condemn attempt by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) to vilify Venezuela and its wise and visionary, President Hugo Chavez.

Anti-Semitism, like all race, religious, and ethnic hatreds is a criminal act and which must be condemned. The Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS) condemn all acts that constitute Anti-Semitism. We also condemn all attempts to frame vicious charges of anti-Semitism against all those who speak out against Israeli heinous crimes and crimes against humanity unleashed on the hapless Palestinian population. We wish to state the following, that:

1. President Hugo Chavez, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, and other government officials promptly and forcefully condemned the vandalism of the synagogue and specifically condemned anti-Semitism. President Chavez has repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism and met with Venezuelan Jewish leaders in the past.

2. Law enforcement officials aggressively investigated the crime and have arrested and charged 15 people to date including several municipal policemen and the synagogue’s own security guard.

3. Venezuela expelled the Israeli Ambassador during Israel’s horrific ground and air assault against the civilian population of Palestinians living in Gaza. Gaza is the most densely populated area on earth and its people are held in a virtual open-air prison by Israel’s control of their borders and blockade of food and medical supplies. The HCI-FPFS would like to see countries in addition to Bolivia join Venezuela in its principled condemnation of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.

4. It is simply not legitimate to equate criticism of the government of Israel with anti-Semitism.
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), we want to believe provides an ongoing platform for venomous anti-Semitic incitement. We call upon the international community to unite in condemn the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) anti-Venezuelan propaganda campaign and to ensure that this dangerous organization ceases its anti-Semitic incitement.

Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh
President of the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCI-FPFS)