How Fidel Castro Helped Venezuela's Jews

One day after I posted Fidel Castro's condemnation of anti-Semitism on this blog, the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, announced that he too, felt great "love and respect" for Jews, and he invited the leaders of his country's put-upon Jewish community to meet with him. The meeting took place a short while later. Chavez's statement, and the meeting that followed, were widely interpreted in Latin America as a signal from Chavez his mentor, Fidel, that he understood that Venezuela was developing a reputation as a hostile place for Jews. Now comes an e-mail to Goldblog from a member of Venezuela's Jewish community confirming that bit of analysis:

"I understand that anti-Fidel people are saying that his statements of affection for Jews and his statements of hostility toward anti-Semitism were cynical and about politics and the need for international respect, but from our perspective this does not matter. Fidel's words against anti-Semitism changed the way the government here talks to us and protects our institutions. The leader of our country showed us a lot of respect in our meeting, and we are glad the Cuban ex-president said the words that he said to you. It is difficult for Americans to understand (I also spend a lot of time in Miami) that Fidel is respected greatly in Latin America and in Venezuela. If he had said something hostile to our position, it would be terrible for us. With God's help, we will survive as a community in Venezuela.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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