WikiLeaks sheds light on plight of Venezuela's Jews

Jewish community raises concerns with US diplomats in Caracas regarding the hostile environment created by the Chavez government.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
December 2, 2010 21:21
4 minute read.
Chavez arrives in Belarus in October

Chavez getting out of car. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Venezuelan Jews raised concerns with US diplomats regarding the increasingly hostile environment created for them by the government of President Hugo Chavez, saying they see a “dark horizon” for their community, according to a document released by WikiLeaks on Thursday morning.

The document, dating from November 2009 and labeled confidential, the third highest level of classification, was the first of its kind that focused on Jewish communities in the Diaspora since WikiLeaks unleashed an avalanche of US diplomatic documents to the Web earlier this week.

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It continues: “Regarding the Jewish community, xxxxx praised the positive effects of Russia’s explosion of wealth, while xxxxx linked economic expansion to a negative shift in the occupational and educational interests of the Russian Jewry. Both xxxxx added that immigration from Israel to Russia vastly exceeded Russian emigration to Israel, but xxxxx noted the reduced Israeli financial support because of the falling dollar.”

During the meeting, Shayevich and Goldschmidt expressed concern over Iran and probed for possible sanctions against Russian businessmen invested in the disputed territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Both said anti- Semitism in Russia was less of a problem than it had been in the past, although it still had the potential to flare up again.

The dispatch also gave an account, apparently by Shayevich, of the competition within the community for political prominence.

“Xxxxx admitted that he did not have the same level of contact with the Kremlin as xxxxx. Calling himself an old man, he claimed to have little interest in attending official functions, and he appreciated the fact that he was no longer ‘bothered’ by the ruling elite. He [xxxxx] singled out the Kremlin’s disapproval of Russian oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky... as the chief reason for his past and current political ‘suffering.’”

Since WikiLeaks began releasing US diplomatic cables last week, the two documents emanating from Moscow and Caracas were the first communique focusing on the Diaspora. Still, WikiLeaks says it has thousands of documents in the pipeline, the contents of which no one outside the State Department knows for sure.


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