Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Venezuela: “11 Thousand Years of Palestinian History”

The Venezuelan Ministry of Culture promoted an academic-cultural event called “Palestine, 11 Thousand Years of History” (“Palestina, 11 mil años de Historia"). It took place between the 12 and 16 of May, and it was organized by several cultural, leftist and pro-Palestinian organizations. The event’s goal was to “provide a small sample of the cultural heritage of an ancient nation that refuses to disappear, a victim of cruelty, occupation and death”. The event consisted of documentaries, conferences, art galleries, debates, musical presentations, and Arab food.

The Ministry of Culture’s press release includes comments such as “a rich and diverse ancient culture, which suffers the consequences of imperial ambition”. The Venezuelan government is promoting the false idea that the Palestinians have populated the land of Israel for 11 thousand years, without even attributing any claims of Jewish history to it, or without mentioning any of the conquests that took place throughout the millennia. This is misleading for the average visitor who is not supplied with accurate factual information, and it falsely presents the Jews as new residents who have randomly come to “colonize” this land.

In addition, Susana Khali, one of the organizers, mentioned that “[…] Not only land is being stolen from the Palestinian people, but also their history. The true descendants of the ancient people of Israel are the Palestinian people and not the Nazis, Aryans and Europeans. […] The idea is to think about solving the conflict. This conflict has a solution, and any solution rests on the foundations of justice, the fight is for a single State, the right of return of the Palestinian people to their land, with the goal of ending the system of Israeli colonial horror, to put an end to Zionism, a racist ideology which violates all human essence. […] Zionism is a racist school of thought that was born in the bosom of a white European bourgeoisie, based on supremacism and denial of others. We should condemn racism, at all costs. It's about fighting for the strength of any people in the world; the Palestinians call for their right to exist as a people. […] The Palestinian people gave Christianity to the world, Judaism to the world. Christianity was not born in Europe; it was born in Palestine. It is Palestinian heritage, the stalls are a Palestinian heritage, the cross is a Palestinian heritage, and we are being driven out of history, The implementation of agriculture was born in 8,000 BC from the Canaanite people, who descended from the Canaanite people, Bethlehem was founded in 4,000 BC, Jerusalem was founded in 6,000 BC, Jericho was founded between 9,000 and 10,000 BC. Where is that history? Palestine is a prohibited people, a censured people, whose history is prohibited because we live under a dictatorial, supremacist, racist, totalitarian and totally repressive international regime. […] We tell the Mossad, the Israeli service of intelligence and penetration, that if they're going to bomb Gaza, they should also come for the Palestinians who are abroad, scattered throughout the world clamoring for our right to return. There are two Palestines: an occupied Palestine and a wandering Palestine. We want to return and fight for the right to be Palestinian. We believe we can live together, but only by ending the regime of apartheid, like any people living in the world, with equal rights."


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Peru: Neo-Nazi Party Now Registered for Elections

Igualdad Nacional Cristiana Autónoma (INCA), a neo-Nazi and anti-Chile regional movement, got registered as a political party in Peru in March. The movement uses the swastika as its symbol and its members wear German Nazi uniforms.

(In the picture: Ricardo de Spirito Balbuena in an ACNA event, about five years ago)

ACNA’s leader, Ricardo de Spirito Balbuena, is known as “the Adolf Hitler of Tacna”. He once said “democracy is garbage” and that “the worst governments in Peru have been democratic and the best governments in Peru have been what many call dictatorships”. He was indicted seven times between 2000 and 2006 for blackmail, defamation and disturbing the peace, and served in prison in 2005 and 2006 for aggravated defamation. Recently, Spirito Balbuena said: “how can I be anti-Jewish if I’m a Christian?” and denied being a Nazi. He claims that the picture in which he appears with a swastika is a photomontage, and that his adversaries are the ones who call him “the Hitler of Tacna”.

The Peruvian electoral authority does not require political parties to have an ideology. However, Percy Medina, Secretary General of the Transparency Civil Association, mentioned that antidemocratic political parties can be considered illegal. The appeal would have to come from the Nation’s Fiscal or from the Ombudsman, and then processed by the Supreme Court of Justice,


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Country Profile #2: Panama

Jewish Immigration (post-marranos):
• 1876: immigrants from the Caribbean founded the Kol Sherith community (now Reform)
• 1911: 505 Jews lived in Panama (Canal construction period)
• 1933: Jews from Syria and Israel founded the Sephardi community
• 1930s-1940s: Jewish European immigrants founded the Ashkenazi community
• 1947: Jewish exodus from Syria produced large immigration waves into Panama
• 1990-2000s: another wave of immigrants (both Jews and non-Jews), who came mainly from Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina due to these countries particular situation at the moment.

The Transformation:
When Rabbi Zion Levy arrived from Jerusalem in 1951, the Panamanian Jewish community was affluent but spiritually empty. Rabbi Levy helped the community and he was very effective in transforming it from a secular/traditional community to a religious one. In 2008, when he died, he left behind one of the strongest Jewish communities in Latin America. Rabbi Levy’s son, Haim, took his father’s post.

The Community Today:
Panama has the largest Jewish community in Central America, with ~8,000 Orthodox Jews (the vast majority Sephardi), ~500 Reform Jews and ~1,000 Israelis. However, Jews are only 0.27% of the 3.3 million population. About 80%-90% of the Jews are Sephardi and they originally come mostly from Syria. Therefore, Syrian traditions and costumes are predominant. The community is very affluent and has little assimilation. Religion takes an extremely important part of Panamanian Jews’ daily lives; Zionism is also significant. There is a strong business culture in the community, as a large part of the Jews work in trade, buying and selling merchandise in the Free Zone area (Colon) and in Panama City. There is, in fact, constant interaction and very little friction with Arabs, including Palestinians (3,500 Muslims in Panama).

The two orthodox communities, Shevet Ahim (Sephardi) and Beth El (Ashkenazi), offer full religious services. There are three synagogues, two Sephardi and one Ashkenazi, as well as two schools (1,300 students) and a yeshiva. Macabi, Bnai Brith, WIZO, and some other institutions are very active in Panama. Likewise, the reform community (Kol Sherith) has one synagogue and a school.
Panama has the largest kosher supermarket outside of Israel (1,500 sq meters) and it sells more than 10,000 products. This is not surprising as ~85% of the Jews in Panama keep kashrut, at least at home. There are also eight kosher restaurants and a Jewish country club/events hall, where most events take place. There is a Jewish country club and events hall.

Panama is the only country, outside of Israel, that had two Jewish presidents in the 20th century. Especially when compared to other countries, there is barely any anti-Semitism. Jews are well integrated into society, especially in commerce. However, the relatively large Palestinian population is active. For instance, there were demonstrations against Operation Cast Lead in front of Israeli Embassy in Panama (30/12/2008 and 01/01/2009).

Relations with Israel:
Panama recognized the State of Israel in June 1948 and the two countries exchanged ambassadors in 1960. Panama consistently supports Israel in the UN and it has several agreements for mutual cooperation with Israel in the fields of agriculture, education, security, and culture.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Argentina: Jewish Cemetery Was Desecrated

More than 40 graves were desecrated in the Jewish cemetery of Misiones, Argentina, on Saturday night.
Luis Magrán, the Misiones DAIA Secretary, said that "it could have been a case of robbery of bronze plaques and inscriptions in order to sell the metal. However, since this is not the first time that this happens, we cannot eliminate the possibility that there were other intentions involved."
The Jewish community of Misiones maintains the cemetery in good conditions, but it regrets that there are no police or municipal guards to prevent desecration.

Source: La Nacion - May 4, 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Anti-Semitic news articles published in Venezuelan media between April 26 and May 3, 2010

Bn’ai Brith Venezuela compiles a weekly list of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel news pieces from the main media in the country. Most of these articles have shocking titles or content, which is why it is important to translate this list into English and diffuse it globally. I try to translate as closely as possible to the Spanish version, so that the essence of the information is preserved. I have also searched for the original article on the internet, if it is available.

SPECIAL NOTE: I have left the Spanish term "Cisjordania" instead of substituting it for "Judea and Samaria", "the West Bank", "the disputed territories", or similar expressions, since each name carries its own connotation.


21/04/2010 – National Association of Community, Free and Alternative Press (ANMCLA). Title: Mercosur FTA - Israel: the Southern Bloc Seals its Complicity with the Apartheid Zionist Regime (TLC Mercosur - Israel: El bloque sureño sella su complicidad con el régimen sionista de Apartheid) Link

26-04-2010 – Aporrea (government-managed). By Gabriela Barradas. Title: The Right Rules Us (La derecha nos gobierna) Link
“The private media prevents us from exercising true freedom of choice, from expressing ourselves, and turn us into alienated masses that serve the interests of the Zionist market and the Opus Dei mafia.”

27/04/2010 – Aporrea (government-managed). By José Sant Roz. Title: Moisés Naim: A Venezuelan Falcon Fed with McChicken (Moisés Naim: Un halcón venezolano alimentado con Mcpollo) Link
“This Zionist man, Moisés Naim, has dedicated extensive works to the topic of corruption and has received blunt replies…”

27/04/2010 – Telesur TV channel (government-managed). The evening news.
Piece about “Palestinians protest against Israeli oppression in occupied territories.”

27/04/2010 – Aporrea (government-managed). By Lucio Aranguren. Title: Response to an Old Priest Friend (Respuesta a un viejo amigo sacerdote) Link
“Every day, children, women and elderly die in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, because of the whim of a few…”

27/04/2010 – Telesur TV channel’s website (government-managed). From a news agency’s report. Link
“The President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas, stated that he was hopeful about possible advances for dialogue towards a peace process in the Middle East, in spite of Israel’s intransigence with respect to its colonialist policy over the occupied Palestinian territories.”

27/04/2010 – Aporrea (government-managed). By Javier Monagas Maita. Title: From Noriega to Uribe. Only Yanquee Interests Deprive (De Noriega a Uribe. Solo los intereses yanquis privan) Link
“Question: Why is it that the yanquee Zionist assassin empire is so ungrateful?”

27/04/2010 – Aporrea (government-managed). By Manuel Taibo. Title: To Understand the Truth (Para entender la verdad) Link
“We immediately recognize that dogma systems, like those of fascism and Zionism-imperialism, are even worse than religions.”

27/04/2010 – Venezuelan Television Channel (state-owned channel). Show: “Dossier”. Conducted by Walter Martínez.
Using videos, he remembered a young woman who was ran over by Israeli bulldozers in 2003 and emphasized how this tragedy occurred in front of the cameras of accredited reporters. He also showed images of the detention of a Palestinian protester in Cisjordania, and of Israeli soldiers throwing chemical liquids to camera-people and photographers to prevent recording.

27/04/2010 – Aporrea (government-managed). By David Goebmann and Fabian Scheidler. Title: The Mulás are Not Suicidal (Los mulás no son suicidas) Link
Interview with Noam Chomsky. Interview with the U.S. professor in which he criticizes Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

28/04/2010 – Telesur TV channel (government-managed). Morning news.
It spread images of East Jerusalem titled “Jerusalem mayor ratifies Palestinian colonization plan” (should be Israeli colonization plan; there is a headline error). It also spread news agency reports about “marches in solidarity for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails”, commenting about the “difficult” humanitarian conditions to which they are subjected.

28/04/2010 – Aporrea (government-managed). By Alfredo Jalife-Rahme. Title: The Unqualified Anglo-Saxon “Qualifying Agencies” (Las descalificadas “agencias calificadoras” anglosajonas) Link
Arguments that it is a waste of time to go into depth about the very boring obscene deceits of Israeli-Anglo-Saxon dark banking, which [Aporrea] has already denounced since it put into evidence the “dark side of globalization.”

28/04/2010 – Telesur TV channel (government-managed).
“Syria attributes the little opportunity for peace in the Middle East to Israel’s bellicose position.”

28/04/2010 – Venezuelan National Radio (state-owned station).
Israel: Palestinians are arrested and expulsed from Cisjordania. Since April 13, the definition of “infiltrated individual” has been extended to include every person that is found in Cisjordania with no permission from Tel Aviv. Israel persists in its campaign of arrests and expulsions of Palestinians in the Cisjordania area.

28/04/2010 – Venezuelan Television Channel (state-owned channel). Show: “La Hojilla”. Conducted by Mario Silva.
It makes reference to the “person linked to Zionism that manipulated history.” It then broadcasts a video with declarations from professor Heinz Sonntag.

28-04-2010 – Bolivarian News Agency (State’s press agency).
Diffuses a report titled: UN demands that Israel resumes peace process in the Middle East. (ONU reclama a Israel reanudar proceso de paz en Medio Oriente.)

29/04/2010 – Telesur TV channel (government-managed). The morning news.
“Due to the Israeli blockade, Palestinians are forced to use tunnels to bring food into Gaza, and Egypt attacked these tunnels because of Israeli pressure, killing 5 Palestinians.”

29/04/2010 – Aporrea (government-managed). By Javier Alexander Roa. Title: Official Visit to Israel? (¿Visita oficial a Israel?) Link
“The Colombian Chancellor has in his agenda a meeting with Jewish Colonizers, with the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, and the Chief of the Mossad. Likewise, he has in his agenda a visit to the old city of Al Quds, or Jerusalem as is wrongly called by the Zionists.”

30/04/2010 – Telesur TV channel (government-managed). The morning news.
It reiterates that “since 1967, Palestinian territory is occupied by Israeli forces.”

03/05/2010 – Telesur TV channel (government-managed). The morning news.
It showed images of a soccer championship in Gaza to commemorate three years of Israel’s economic blockade to the Palestinians. Additionally, it shows the testimonial of a Palestinian soccer player who complains about Israeli professional soccer teams competing internationally, while the Palestinians cannot even travel to Jerusalem for a friendly match.


27/04/2010 – Aporrea (government-managed). By Francisco Natera. Title: María Corina Machado in open panoramic screen (María Corina Machado en pantalla panorámica abierta...) Link
“The Machado Zuloaga are a curse that was sent to us, I don’t know where from, because even Jews as they are, they were already here during the colonization, and their fortune was as big as the Bolivar’s, and this because of smuggling.”

03/05/2010 – Telesur TV channel (government-managed). The morning news.
International news agency’s report about Israel called: Ultra-Orthodox Individuals against Law that Bans Commerce in Animal Fur (Ultra-ortodoxos en contra de ley que prohíbe comercio con pieles de animales). In images, it shows religious Jews (specifically chasiddim from Breslov) selling and wearing fur hats.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Latin America: Iran's Commercial Battlefield

It seems like Iran is taking advantage of the global economic crisis to increased its commercial presence in Latin America, in order to reduce the United States' influence in the region. In 2008, Iran's trade with Latin America was reportedly US$2.9 billion, triple what it was in 2007. Although nominally it may not seem like a lot, the growth rates from 2007 are astonishing. For example:
- Argentina: US$1.2 billion in 2008 (from US$30 million in 2007)
- Ecuador: US$168 million in 2008 (from US$6 million in 2007)
- Venezuela: US$52 million in 2008 (+31% from 2007)
- Cuba: US$50 million in 2008 (+50% from 2007)
(Data: 4/12/09, UPI and 6/4/10, Reuters)

It is public knowledge that Latin American leaders, such as Hugo Chaves in Venezuela and Raul Castro in Cuba, allow Ahmadinejad to step into the region to "liberate" it from the United States' economic and social "imperialistic domination". This is not surprising – we have seen Ahmadinejad and Chaves shake hands on multiple occasions. Just a few weeks ago, Cuba announced increased cooperation with Iran in the fields of biotechnology and sugar, as part of its global commercial diversification plan to overcome its liquidity crisis. (6/4/10, Reuters) Cuba and Venezuela even attended Iran's nuclear conference in April.

What is really surprising (and preoccupying) is the strengthening of economic relations between Iran and some of the more independent and advanced Latin American countries, which also host a large number of Jews. Ahmadinejad's government recently announced that Brazil and Argentina are its two strongest commercial allies in Latin America, respectively. Mohsen Shaterzadeh Yazdi, Iran's ambassador in Brazil, described Latin America as the battlefield in its confrontation with "arrogant powers", obviously referring to the United States. (6/4/10, Prensa Judía)

Simultaneously, Brazil's Chancellor, Celso Amorim, defended Brazil's policy of sustaining economic ties with Iran. He argued that it is still possible to use dialog in order to reach an agreement that will allow the international community to watch Iran's nuclear plans. Amorim also said that the United States' policies will only radicalize Iran and make its people suffer more, since economic sanctions will hurt the poor classes more. (6/4/10, Reuters) Argentina's extremist politician Luis D'Elia (practically Ahmadinejad's lobby envoy in Buenos Aires) regularly holds meetings with government officials in Iran, as well as with Argentinean businesspeople to create commercial partnerships with Iran. He even advocated that Argentina should not only develop multimillion business deals with Iran, but also sign an agreement for nuclear cooperation to enrich uranium. (4/4/10, Infobae)

Just the fact that Latin American countries are expanding their commercial ties with Iran in a time when the developed world is trying to raise sanctions against it, is a red flag in its own. In some cases, these nations simply may be looking for ways to mitigate the effect of the economic crisis on their trade balances. Some others may reflect genuine willingness to have Iran as a partner. What is certain is that, while it is unlikely that Iranian-Latin American trade will make a material shift in the global markets, the region has the potential to fortify Iran's economy. The potential of Latin American's vast natural resources, large population and strategic geographical position is significant, especially if combined with the wrong political alliances.