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Chavez condemns vandalism at synagogue

Latest update : 2009-02-02

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemned the anti-Semitic vandalism on the main synagogue in Caracas after fifteen people broke into the site, destroyed scriptures and sprayed racist graffiti overnight on Friday.

AFP - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Sunday condemned the vandalism of the main synagogue in Caracas, suggesting the opposition may have been involved.

"We condemn the (vandalism) acts in Caracas, as well as the arson in the El Avila (hills in Caracas), which the oligarchy does not. We condemn violence, whatever its origins, and we will fight it wherever it comes from," said Chavez, saying his government was "far from being involved in the violence."

The Venezuelan president singled out the opposition and especially students, whom he accused of troublemaking in the streets, for setting El Avila ablaze and instigating violence after Caracas last month broke off ties with the Jewish state last month over its deadly war on Gaza.

"The oligarchy is the violence. It kills, it plots ... it uses blood-thirsty youth who have no soul, sends them like cannon fodder to fuel violence," he added.

About fifteen people broke into Venezuela's main synagogue overnight Friday, tied and gagged the guards, destroyed scriptures and sprayed anti-Semitic graffiti.

Israel deplored the attack and said "such acts could not have taken place without the benevolent gaze of the authorities at the highest level."

Elias Farache, president of Venezuela's Jewish Association, attributed rising tensions with the country's Jewish community to recent diplomatic upsets between Venezuela and Israel.

Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with Israel in mid-January in protest over the Jewish state's deadly military assault in the Gaza Strip that left more than 1,330 Palestinians dead. Chavez referred to the Israeli attacks as "genocide."

On January 6, the Venezuelan government expelled Israel's ambassador in Caracas, Shlomo Cohen. A day later, Israel responded by expelling Venezuela's charge d'affaires in Tel Aviv.

Date created : 2009-02-02