Preparing for Passover in Venezuela

April 19 2019

Despite economic crisis, a tyrannical regime allied closely with Iran, and growing unrest, some 6,000 Jews remain in Caracas, some holding out hope that President Nicolas Maduro will be toppled. Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, having spent a few weeks in the country, reports on the Jewish community there:

Kidnappings are one of the few profitable businesses here in Venezuela. . . . Members of the Jewish community, who are generally assumed to be wealthy, are popular targets. Some of the remaining Jews here are, in fact, better off financially than the general population, but, wealthy or not, they are a vulnerable minority living in a tumultuous failed state. . . .

Life [for Venezuelan Jews] is lived behind barriers, and Hebraica, [Caracas’s Jewish community] center, does not even allow my bodyguard—every journalist here must have one—and driver inside. I am shocked by how vast it is, a city inside a city, with schools, a bank, tennis courts, and restaurants. The Jewish community truly lives here: I see men in kippot having coffee and a game of backgammon as kindergarteners play wildly on the monkey bars. . . .

Although the diplomatic relationship between the state of Israel and the government of Venezuela is in shambles, identification with Israel is a large part of Jewish identity here. There are Israeli flags everywhere in Hebraica. Most of the children go on at least one communally subsidized trip to Israel while they’re at school, and many speak Hebrew as a result of the schools’ ambitious curriculum. There’s a mix of the religious and secular in the education here at Hebraica, as well as in the community. . . .

Venezuela’s Independence Day coincides with the first Passover seder this year. As all Venezuelans wonder what this Independence Day will bring, some of them will also be thinking about whether there will be enough matzah and kosher wine, and under what circumstances they will celebrate the festival of freedom.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Latin America, Passover, Venezuela


Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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Read more at Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror