The Plight of Venezuela’s Jews

My friend Rabbi Barbara Aiello sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal entitled The Politics of Intimidation.

In a report to be released today, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom puts Venezuela on a watch list of countries where religious freedom is threatened. “Anti-Semitic statements by government officials and state media,” it says, “have created a hostile environment whereby some Venezuelan citizens have harassed and threatened rabbis, vandalized Jewish businesses with anti-Semitic slogans, and called for a boycott of all Jewish businesses in Venezuela.” In a report on global anti-Semitism last year, the State Department listed Venezuela as a state sponsor of anti-Semitism.

Clearly, trouble is brewing. The crux of the matter is Obama’s recent overtures to what were once considered America’s enemies–or, at least, not best friends. Now, it’s fine and good to reach out and offer the hand of friendship, even to your enemy. It’s mighty Christian, as they say. But the problem for Obama is that on one hand he expresses concern for Israel and the Jews (White House seder et al.), and on the other he extends an olive branch to precisely those regimes who not only preach anti-Americanism, but specialize in anti-Jewish measures and hatred of Israel.

I voted for Barack Obama, though I never bought into the messianic rhetoric of his most ardent supporters. I believed him to be the better candidate and a true friend of the Jews and Israel. I still believe he is. Perhaps he is an amateur at foreign policy after all. Now that he’s been in office for more than 100 days, the beautifully wrought rhetoric of his campaign is beginning to fade somewhat, leaving us with the reality of pitiless facts and tough choices.

No one said it was going to be easy.

And then there’s Caroline Glick’s shrewd analysis of the upcoming elections in Lebanon. It’s anything but uplifting.

It is too early to know how Obama will react when he like Bush is no longer able to deny that his strategy for winning over the hearts and minds of the Islamic world has failed. We don’t know if like Bush before him, he will simply ignore reality and pretend that nothing has happened; if he will blame his political opponents or Israel for not joining him in his contrition; or if he will cast about for another central organizing principle that will explain hostile Islamic behavior.

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