What Chavez really said about Israel

News & Politics

Shortly after fighting broke out between Israel and Lebanon, headlines, like this one from AP (all the way over to lefty outlets like this one, blared: Venezuela's Chavez Says U.S. Support of Israel is Heightening Mideast Tensions

Which is close. Very close. Unfortunately, it's not close enough to actually counteract what those who hate Chavez (or Israel) want you to think he meant.

What Chavez actually said, from the embassy translation, courtesy of Eric Wingerter, Public Education Director for the Venezuela Information Office, was (emphasis mine):

The flame of war is once again ignited over there in the Middle East, and whose fault is it? We cannot say it is the people of Israel, we cannot say that is the people of Palestine, no. It is the North American empire’s fundamental fault, it is the empire that has armed and supported the abuses of the Israeli elites, which invade, abuse, challenge the United Nations since a long time ago.
Notice the difference between "support for Israel" and "support for abuses of Israeli elites." Note too that he goes out of his way to also remove the Israeli people from culpabillity. In other words: they'd like us to believe that Chavez doesn't think the state of Israel deserves support -- ergo: that Israel's right to exist and to be supported is in doubt.

It should be noted that Chavez is no saint; he's not Jesus, he's not even Jimmy Carter, but he's not satan either. Chavez is a politician. America-as-empire rhetoric works real good when playing to his base. So he's an outspoken critic of American foreign policy -- and one who sits atop a healthy store of oil -- so he's become persona non grata among neo- and other flavors of conservatives alike... On the other hand, there are those on the Left (many of whom worship Chavez) who wish he questioned supporting the state of Israel.

After his Christmas speech late last year, a campaign to tar him with the anti-semitism brush was launched by rightwing elements in America -- which I wrote a story about HERE.

So it makes you wonder about the slight, er, translation problem this time around. Just saying.

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