How Fidel Castro Helped Venezuela's Jews

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/09/how-fidel-castro-helped-venezuelas-jews/63710/