Chavez 'part of evil side of politics'
Dozens demonstrate outside Venezuelan Embassy against country's decision to cut Israel ties.
JANUARY 16, 2009 12:17
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the Venezuelan Embassy in Herzliya late Friday morning to protest the previous day's decision by the Venezuelan government to break diplomatic ties with Israel.
The majority of the protesters were Venezuelan-born, while some were from Argentina and Colombia.
"We feel that it's very important, not only for the Venezuelan community in Israel, but also for the Jewish community in Venezuela to maintain these kind of ties," said Daniel Translateur, one of the organizers of the demonstration.
"We hope [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez will see the importance, as we all do, of peace in the Middle East, while also recognizing Israel's right to defend itself," he continued. "Such a decision shows him to the world as being part of the evil side of global politics."
The demonstrators also delivered a letter of protest to the Venezuelan chargÃ© d'affaires.
In the letter, the demonstrators urged Chavez to reestablish ties with Israel and recall Israeli ambassador Shlomo Cohen.
They also said "breaking the good relations between Venezuela and Israel won't help solve the conflict at this moment of fear and uncertainly," adding that they expected the Venezuelan government to support them and their families "instead of promoting attacks against the Jewish community in Venezuela."
The letter also called on Venezuela to end its open support for Hamas and urged Chavez to stop his comments against the Jewish community and Israel, expressing hope that he would "encourage the international community to fight terror."
On Thursday, Venezuela said it was severing the ties to protest the IDF operation in the Gaza Strip. It followed last week's expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.
Jerusalem had no formal response, and Venezuela's chargÃ© d'affaires was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for talks.
Israel's relations with Venezuela have, over the past five years, been limited primarily to the non-governmental sector and the Jewish community. There are some 15,000 Jews in the country, which is widely believed to be one of the reasons Israel did not sever ties after the expulsion of its ambassador.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report