Fleeing the crisis in Venezuela, 26 Jews immigrated to Israel this week, a continuation of a mass exodus of Jews from the South American country. Venezuela has been dominated by protests, some violent, against the current president Nicolas Maduro, and the former long-time leader of the country, Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013.
Anti-Semitic language was often used by the former President to deflect from criticism of the country’s financial situation. This anti-Semitism convinced many Jews to flee the country but the recent crisis has continued the trend. The majority of Jews who flee Venezuela end up moving to either Israel or the American state of Florida. The current Jewish population of the South American country is now just 9,000, compared to 25,000 in 1999.
In more concerning rhetoric, in May, the current president Maduro, compared those who are protesting against his far-left government’s officials to the treatment of Jews under the Nazis. Maduro said, “We don’t carry the yellow Star of David, we carry red hearts that are filled with desire to fight for human dignity. And we are going to defeat them, these 21st century Nazis”.
Upon arriving in Israel, Venezuelan Jew Michal Levy told the Jerusalem Post, “The situation is very hard, it’s hard to get basic things like bread and flour”. Michal also stated that she had been scared to leave the house due to riots and kidnappings.
With the situation in Venezuela showing no signs of changing for the better, it would not be surprising to see more Jews leave the South American country in the future.
Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern.