* Surprised? We are. After all, didn’t ChavezÂ initiateÂ this whole thing by spewing bile against the Jews? And what is this now if not a half-assed attempt at damage control?
Venezuelan investigators on Sunday said seven police agents and four civilians were arrested in connection with an attack on a synagogue thatÂ sparked international condemnation.
The Venezuelan public prosecutor’s office said the civilians included at least one security official from the synagogue and that all had been captured in raids over the weekend.
“These people were apprehended during raids carried out between Saturday and the early hours of Sunday in different parts of Caracas. They will all be charged by the Public Prosecutor’s office,” the office said in a statement.
Armed men broke into Venezuela’s Tiferet synagogue last week, daubing the walls with slogans like “Jews get out” and destroyed religious objects.
The attack produced a deluge of condemnation of President Hugo Chavez, a vocal critic of Israeli foreign policy who last month expelled Israel’s ambassador over the war in Gaza. Members of the U.S. Congress said in a letter that Chavez had fostered a climate of fear against the Jewish community, and the World Jewish Congress was also critical.
Chavez insists he respects all religions and condemned the attack on the synagogue, which he blamed on armed groups opposed to his government. This week he said investigators had found a videotape of the assailants in the temple and predicted arrests would quickly follow.
Representatives of World Jewish Congress met with Venezuelan officials on Friday and said the government had promised to clamp down on anti-Semitic acts.
Despite the government’s assurances, some Chavez supporters are openly anti-Semitic and graffiti has become a common sight on Caracas’ streets since the Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which killed nearly 1,300 people.