Saturday, January 31, 2009

AJC Concern for Venezuela Jewry on Rise After Synagogue Attack

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC today expressed deepening concerns for the security and safety of the Jewish community in Venezuela, after a brazen attack during the Sabbath on a synagogue in Caracas.

"The total disrespect of a Jewish house of worship reflects the escalating climate of hostility towards Jews in Venezuela," said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris. "The wanton desecration of holy books is disheartening and inexcusable."

The attackers struck at 10 p.m. and continued their assault until around 3 a.m., vandalizing the offices of the Venezuelan Jewish community's central organization, tossing Torah scrolls and other holy books on the floor, and leaving graffiti on the synagogue walls that read "We don't want Jews here" and "Jews get out."

"There are strong indications that what we are witnessing is a state-sponsored campaign of anti-Semitic persecution, spurred by both Venezuela's alliance with the Iranian regime and the surge of anti-Israel rhetoric during the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas," said Harris. "We call on the international community to declare its solidarity with Venezuela's Jewish community and to make clear to President Chavez that further escalation will not be tolerated."

AJC has spoken out with alarm before about the ongoing threats to the Jewish community in Venezuela, and apparent lack of concern by the Chavez government in countering the rising number of anti-Semitic incidents and providing adequate security.

In 2004 and again in 2007, Venezuela police raided the Hebraica, the Caracas complex housing the Jewish community center and school.

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