The vandalizing of a Caracas synagogue late Friday only underscores the feeling of growing anti-Semitic sentiment in the South American nation, Jewish community members said over the weekend.
A group of people – reports run as high as 15 – broke into Caracas’s Sephardic synagogue late on Friday, held the guard at gunpoint, wreaked havoc on the building and damaged the Torah scrolls.
Before leaving at around 3 a.m., the vandals scrawled “Death to the Jews” and “We don’t want Jews here” on the synagogue’s walls.
The damage was discovered by community members on Saturday morning. The guard was found on the floor, one community leader said.
According to Paul Hariton, a former leader of the Ashkenazi community in Caracas, “this was a well-organized event. The attackers were heavily armed. They jumped a wall and overcame two guards. They even took the videotape out of the security camera before they left.”
The US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said the attack was “not a random event in Venezuela; it is directly related to the atmosphere of anti-Jewish intimidation promoted by President [Hugo] Chavez and his government apparatus.”