Chavez urges Venezuelans to donate for Lebanon

President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela is carrying out a nationwide fundraising drive to raise money for rebuilding Lebanon and for the Palestinian people. Chavez called the Lebanese and Palestinians "heroic people" and reiterated his criticisms of Israel over its military offensive in Lebanon. "I ask everyone in the country to give what we can for this fundraising campaign for the reconstruction of Lebanon _ destroyed by the genocidal and fascist hand of Israel, and its masters, the U.S. empire," Chavez said. The Venezuelan president said on Aug. 3 that he was withdrawing his country's top diplomat to Israel to protest its attacks in Lebanon and its actions toward the Palestinians. Israel, which responded by calling home its ambassador, has criticized what it calls Chavez's "one-sided policy" and "wild slurs."