accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday of using what it said were anti-Semitic remarks and demanded an apology.
In a televised Christmas Eve speech, Chavez, a left-winger and a former soldier, said that "minorities, descendants of those who crucified Christ ... have grabbed all the wealth of the world for themselves."
Chavez, a Catholic, did not mention the Jewish people and in the same comments referred to the betrayal of Venezuelan liberation hero Simon Bolivar. But the group said his remarks represented central arguments of anti-Semitism -- accusing the Jews of killing Jesus Christ and associating them with wealth.
"Both elements have served as a perfect excuse to justify the most cruel persecution and killing during two millenniums," the Wiesenthal center said in a statement.
Justin Delacour opines,
as for Chavez's supposed "anti-semitic remarks," that story is entirely fabricated. He didn't say anything about Jews. As I pointed out at TPMcafe, Chavez often refers to Jesus Christ as the first socialist. When Chavez speaks of "minorities" that "crucified" Christ and Bolivar, he's referring to minorities in a political and socio-economic sense, not in an ethnic or religious sense. He's not directing his comments at Romans or Jews. He's referring to exactly what he says he's referring to: "minorities" (i.e. oligarchies, aristocracies, ruling classes, etc.) that have "appropriated the riches of the world" and "concentrated wealth in a small number of hands."
Now, for some folks, Chavez's populist discourse may sound a bit wacky, or it may smack of class warfare, but there's nothing anti-semitic in what he's saying.
But of course Justin knows more about anti-semitism than the Simon Wiesenthal Center...