Sunday, February 01, 2009

Caracas synagogue vandalized

From Ynet News, 31/1/09, by Maya Lecker:

Venezuelan Jews alarmed by increasing anti-Semitism after vandals daub 'Jews get out' on synagogue walls. "We don't want Jews here" and "Jews get out" were the slogans daubed on a Caracas synagogue's walls Saturday.

David Bitan, vice president of the Jewish community in Venezuela, told Ynet that late Friday night a number of assailants broke down the synagogue's door and threw scripture books on the floor, then proceeded to graffiti the hateful slogans on the walls.

"We found the guard on the floor, he had been threatened with a gun," Bitan said. "Until 3 am they destroyed the offices, opened the Ark of the Covenant, and threw the Torah books on the floor." ...The slogans were not against Israel but against the Jews," he said.

Bitan added that the community has been troubled by numerous anti-Semitic acts over recent years, and a spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities in Venezuela, Daniel Ben-Naim, said the incident testified to the increasing hatred of Jews in the country.

"We've never had such an incident. It looks well-planned," he said. "We were afraid something like this would happen. The official press was becoming more and more anti-Israeli and anti-Jews. There are hundreds of anti-Semitic articles, ads, and fliers."

An Israeli residing in Caracas said images from the ravaged synagogue had been displayed in the local media. He said he had seen that another slogan, "Death to the Jews", was also sprayed in the synagogue.

Relations between Israel and Venezuela became strained over the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip. Caracas severed its diplomatic ties with Israel after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez slammed Israel's actions as "inhumane".

On Wednesday the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem announced that it had ordered Venezuelan diplomats in Israel to exit the country by the end of the week. In response, Caracas stated that the country was proud its diplomats had been expelled, and called Israeli leaders criminals.
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