January 24, 2006

Wiesenthal Centre's Chavez quote tantamount to fabrication

I posted earlier about the Venezuelan Jewish community's discomfiture over the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's unwarranted attack on Venezuelan President Chavez. Well here's a report from FAIR.org that shows that the SWC et al fabricated aspects of Chavez's speech in order to make it appear anti-semitic. Here's what Chavez actually said:
The world has an offer for everybody but it turned out that a few minorities--the descendants of those who crucified Christ, the descendants of those who expelled Bolivar from here and also those who in a certain way crucified him in Santa Marta, there in Colombia--they took possession of the riches of the world, a minority took possession of the planet’s gold, the silver, the minerals, the water, the good lands, the oil, and they have concentrated all the riches in the hands of a few; less than 10 percent of the world population owns more than half of the riches of the world.
Here's FAIR's analysis:
The biggest problem with depicting Chavez's speech as an anti-Semitic attack is that Chavez clearly suggested that "the descendants of those who crucified Christ" are the same people as "the descendants of those who expelled Bolivar from here." As American Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who questioned the charge, told the Associated Press (1/5/06), "I know of no one who accuses the Jews of fighting against Bolivar." Bolivar, in fact, fought against the government of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, who reinstituted the anti-Semitic Spanish Inquisition when he took power in 1813. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, a Jewish sympathizer in Curacao provided refuge to Bolivar and his family when he fled from Venezuela.
But now look:
Most of the accounts attacking Chavez (the Daily Standard was an exception) left the reference to Bolivar out entirely; the Wiesenthal Center deleted that clause from the speech without even offering an ellipsis, which is tantamount to fabrication.
I think it's time to say that most public (that is institutional and media amplified) allegations of anti-semitism are false. It does cause a problem because some allegations of anti-semitism are true. I think given that false ones seem to outnumber true ones then we shouldn't expend too much energy trying to discover which is which. Instead I think we should focus on forms of racism that are really harming people's lives. Anti-semitism isn't one of them. Zionism is.

Please read the FAIR article in full.

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