A Jewish rights organization accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of making anti-Semitic comments during a Christmas Eve speech.
The Los Angeles, California-based Simon Wiesenthal Center
demanded an apology from Chavez in a statement issued Wednesday, saying such remarks have long been used to persecute Jews.
"Some minorities, descendants of the same ones who crucified Christ ... took all the world's wealth for themselves," Chavez said in the Dec. 24 speech.
"In your words, the two central arguments of anti-Semitism emerge ... the accusation that Jews killed Jesus (and) associating them with wealth," the Center said in a letter sent to Chavez. "Our center strongly condemns your anti-Semitic declarations."
Chavez did not did not mention the Jewish people explicitly in the speech, which was broadcast on national television. A spokeswoman for the president's office said it had no immediate response to the complaint.
During the speech, Chavez also praised Jesus Christ as a revolutionary hero, saying he was the world's first true socialist.