U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today expressed her concern about a pattern of anti-Semitism in Venezuela and urged the State Department to designate Venezuela as a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
Saturday's violent attack on a synagogue, during which armed men destroyed religious objects and sprayed "Death to All" and slogans calling for Jews to be expelled from the country, was the latest in a series of anti-Semitic incidents targeting Venezuela's Jewish community.
"The Government in Caracas has abdicated its responsibility to protect all of Venezuela's citizens, and is fomenting anti-Semitic hatred and violence for its own political gain," Ros-Lehtinen said.
In the letter, addressed to Mr. Kurt Donnelly, Director of the Office of International Religious Freedom at the U.S. Department of State, Ros-Lehtinen also cited the 2008 Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism report which singled out Venezuelan leaders for anti-Semitism.
"The deplorable synagogue attack last weekend is the latest in a pattern of anti-Semitism embraced by the Venezuelan government. Responsible nations must make clear that such persecution will not be tolerated, with the U.S. taking the lead in countering such religious intolerance," she said.