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Venezuela: We are all Jews

By Michael Rowan, El Universal

08.12.04 | If government investigators believed there was potential evidence relating to the horrific car bombing that killed Danilo Anderson in a school, there was a perfectly effective way to look for it -go over to the school at 5PM when the students are gone, and tell the school administration to stand aside while you look around. But that's not what they did. Instead, a phalanx of government police raided the place, like heavily armed marines attacking a nest of terrorists bunkered in a school in Iraq, and at the early morning hour when 1,500 students and hundreds of faculty and parents were arriving to begin a day of learning. Well, a lot was learned that day, indeed.

The fact that it was a Jewish school is lost on no one. This was an unmistakable message to the Jewish community, which has heard that loathsome message many times before. Early on, the Nazis used this tactic against the Jews to strike fear in their hearts, as it did. The whole world knows what came after that. In the Soviet Union, Jews were subjected to similar harbingers of their persecution. Targeting Jews served the purposes of ideological and racist fanatics since the diaspora, the expulsion of Jews from Palestine thousands of years ago. It starts with symbolic attacks on Jews as outsiders in the communities they have lived in for generations, and communicates the ethnic cleansing the authorities may have in mind. The people of Europe and North America are especially sensitive to this symbolism, because they remember the holocaust and the gulag first hand, as does every Jew who survived thereafter. World wars have been fought over this issue, and may still.

In Venezuela, the Jewish community has disappeared into the fabric of the society, as it has all over the world. Yet it is astonishing to Jews learn that they are not French, not American, not Mexican, not Venezuelan, not Russian -they are always and only Jews. No matter how many generations a Jewish family may have lived in Venezuela, this one incident triggers the fear that once again, they may be targeted as different, despicable, squalid, putrid, filthy maggots. In the deafening silence from the government following this symbolic event, everyone in the community, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and those with mixed ethnic or religious background, must stand up to the authorities, and say with one voice: I am a Jew. We are all Jews.

Michael Rowan's column is published every Tuesday

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