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Meerten B. ter Borg and Jan Willem van Henten

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780823231560

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823231560.001.0001

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“Bolivarian” Anti-Semitism

“Bolivarian” Anti-Semitism

(p.167) “Bolivarian” Anti-Semitism

Claudio Lomnitz

Rafael Sánchez

Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses the use of religious symbolism to disempower others. It surveys recent cases of anti-Semitism in Venezuela that are directly related to Hugo Chávez's attempts to stabilize his position as the nation's leader. It argues that the attack on the Tiferet Israel Synagogue in Caracas on January 30, 2009, is part of a continuous stream of anti-Semitic statements and acts in Venezuela, which associate the Jews with Adolf Hitler and the devil through the symbolism of swastikas and the number 666, the Mark of the Beast in Revelation 13:18. Such anti-Semitism, combined with populism, military uniforms, and homophobia, helps to construct the regime's opponents as enemies of the state by associating them with Zionist imperialism and the Jews. It thus legitimates either expelling these outsiders from the body of the nation or subjecting them to the will of the people. This ideology has a firm basis in the work of the Argentine Holocaust denier Norberto Ceresole, who acted as Chávez's adviser, rather than in the writings of the great liberator Simón Bolívar.

Keywords:   Venezuela, anti-Semitism, Hugo Chávez, religious symbolism, Tiferet Israel Synagogue, Norberto Ceresole, Jews, Zionist imperialism, homophobia, populism

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