Venezuelan Jews Accept Israel's Recognition of Opposition Leader, Chief Rabbi Says

The usually neutral community backs Israel's decision to legitimize the claim to power by Maduro's opponent

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Juan Guaido, who swore himself in as the leader of Venezuela, at a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, February 2, 2019.
Juan Guaido, who swore himself in as the leader of Venezuela, at a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, February 2, 2019.Credit: Bloomberg

Venezuela’s chief rabbi said his community “accepts” Israel’s recognition of the claim to power by an opposition leader fighting to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Rabbi Isaac Cohen’s statement seems to contradict his community’s policy of neutrality in the power struggle.

“We don’t know where we’re standing now,” Cohen said during an interview Tuesday with the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation in another expression of uncertainty on Venezuela’s political situation. “Maduro rules the country right now, but they appointed another president, Juan Guaido.”

The United States, Israel and several Latin American nations recognized Guiado as interim president last month. The recognition followed Guaido’s swearing himself in unilaterally during a mass rally against the inauguration of Maduro, who won Venezuela’s discredited 2018 elections.

Amid wild inflation and severe shortages in basic commodities under Maduro, a far-left socialist, protests erupted across Venezuela. Security forces responded with raids that have killed dozens of people over the past two weeks.

Support for Maduro, a vitriolic critic of Israel, isn’t high among Venezuela’s middle-class Jewish community of some 10,000. But throughout the unrest, the Jewish community has kept to a line of strict neutrality.

Yet when asked what his community thinks of Israel’s decision to recognize Guaido, Cohen said “We accept it.”

Shlomo Amar, a chief rabbi of Jerusalem, said in the same interview that Maduro told him when he visited Venezuela in December that he’s descended from “a Dutch Jewish community that was exiled to South America.” Most such traffic was in the opposite direction.



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott