- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Can it be happening again? Another generation, another part of the world, another dictator, but the same hatred and violence focused on innocent members of the Jewish community? This time it is sprouting in our own hemisphere, in a county that has a long history of acceptance and a thriving Jewish population.

The country is Venezuela, the dictator is President Hugo Chavez, and the current focus of his hatred and violence is the prosperous Jewish community of Caracas. As a Jew, I am not surprised by the anti-Semitic, Nazi-like actions being taken by Mr. Chavez. The defacing of synagogues and destruction of torahs, violent assaults on Jewish citizens and their property, the expelling of Israel’s envoy to Venezuela, even accusations of Jews being Christ killers are all textbook examples of how Jews have been unfairly persecuted for generations around the globe.

Mr. Chavez openly embraces countries like Iran and its anti-Semitic leader President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as well as the Palestinian and Lebanese terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, which are consumed with eliminating Israel and Jews. Jewish Americans and others in the greater Washington region have been quite vocal against the unjustified anti-Semitic actions being taken by Mr. Chavez.

What does surprise me, however, is the lack of concern by local Jewish and other community leaders regarding the activities of Mr. Chavez and his surrogates in Maryland. The most obvious being former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, Massachusetts Democrat, and his heating-oil giveaway program financed by Mr. Chavez through the Venezuelan-owned oil company Citgo Petroleum Corp. This is an embarrassment to the United States and the Kennedy legacy, and it should be terminated immediately.

Even more disturbing is the stealth financial relationship between Mr. Chavez and the taxpayer-funded illegal-alien support group CASA de Maryland. CASA director Gustavo Torres recently received $1.5 million from Mr. Chavez in gratitude for Mr. Torres’ participation in an anti-American conference in Caracas in 2007. Acceptance of these funds by CASA says much about the organization and its seeming acceptance of Mr. Chavez’s continued anti-Semitic rampage and anti-American policies. Time for Mr. Torres to come clean, denounce Mr. Chavez’s policies and return these tainted funds to Venezuela.

BRAD BOTWIN

Director

Help Save Maryland

Rockville

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