NEWS DESK | Venezuela is in the midst of a political crisis right now after several countries declared recognition of Guaido, not incumbent Maduro, as Venezuela’s president. How does Israel’s recognition of Guaido as president affect the local Jewish community? Our Bianca Zanini has the story.

Story:

‘Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries in Latin America, and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela,’ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced. 

The Israeli government went on the record Sunday on the question of Venezuela, with Netanyahu backing up Israel’s most important ally, the U.S., but only days after other countries did so.

So, what was the hold-up? Concern over the fate of Venezuela’s Jewish community. 

Some 7,500 Jews live in Venezuela, according to the Jewish Agency.

‘It’s not a community that is divided between orthodox, secular, ashkenazi, sephardic,’ Venezuelan expat Gabriel Chocron, who lives in Israel now, says. ‘It’s very known to be a supportive community for its members and also for the state of Israel.’
  
The Israeli government is worried that Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan president in power, could take revenge on the community. That consideration was eventually overridden by the need to back Washington.

‘Netanyahu, with his decision, decided to be on the right side of history and of the current conflict in Venezuela,’ Chocron says. ‘We have a really undemocratic regime that has been persecuting the opposition, that has been ruining a country that was supposed to be one of the richest of the world.’

The Jewish Agency for Israel aims to build connections among Jews worldwide. It’s been active in Venezuela.

‘We have invested a few hundred thousand dollars in the protection of community facilities. This is needed because the general situation makes parts of it unsafe and we needed the community to feel safe,’ says The Jewish Agency in Israel’s spokesperson, Yigal Palmor.
 
The Jewish Agency says it’s following the situation in Venezuela closely and is in touch on a daily basis with local leaders.

‘The situation is extremely sensitive and therefore we cannot disclose what we do,’ Palmor comments.

For Israel, Venezuela is a question of foreign policy and also a question of ties with Jews abroad.

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