Israel’s position on Venezuela – A Left Perspective

Benjamin Netanyahu on January 25th recognized Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s president (IsraeliPM/Youtube)

1.Has the government of Israel taken an official position regarding the situation in Venezuela? If yes, what is the position?

The Israeli government has come out strongly in support of Juan Guaidó’s claim to the presidency of Venezuela. PM Netanyahu has strongly stressed that this position is in accordance with the stances of “the US, Canada, most Latin American countries and [some] European countries”. According to press reports, the announcement was delayed by a few days due to concern that it might lead to reprisals by the Maduro government against the Venezuelan Jewish community (which is primarily wealthy and anti-Maduro).

2.What does this reveal about Israel’s foreign policy/international standing?

The geopolitics of the Middle East is messy and non-binary at the moment, but on Latin America the Israeli government does not need to tread carefully. Globally, not all right-wing populist governments are members of one “nationalist international” but those in Latin America are closely aligned with the USA and thus with Israel, where support for the American empire remains a consensus position among the Jewish majority. Evangelical Christians, who are among the strongest supporters of the Israeli right on the US scene, are also central to the recent successes of the right in South America; thus, Bolsonaro and Netanyahu are close, and the Venezuelan opposition has  hosted the Israeli flag beside the US one.  Conversely, the fact that both Turkey and Iran – both enemies of Israel, though not allies of one another – support Maduro also strengthens Israel’s opposition.

3.Have left groups/parties/movements come forward with a position on Venezuela?  If yes, what has their position been?  What does this (fail) to reveal?

The parties of the Zionist left, Meretz and Labor, have not made any pronouncement. They are busy with the upcoming election, in which they are in danger of being “Pasokified.” Seeing as they represent a strongly pro-American middle-class constituency, there is no reason to expect that if they expressed an opinion it would diverge significantly from that of the government, at least as long as the mainstream of the Democratic party in the US does not display any such divergence, which it probably will not unless a military intervention goes very badly.

The (primarily Palestinian) Communist Party of Israel has come out strongly in support of the Maduro regime and against US intervention. Its position is a classic “anti-imperialist” one and also in tune with the stance of the forces it supports in the Middle East – primarily the Assad regime.

4. Do you see any parallels/differences in what is happening with Venezuela now to any moment in the development of your country? 

Israel has never been “state socialist”, though its formative period did take place under a developmentalist state. Its transition to neoliberalism in the 1980’s was rather smooth, due among other things to the redistribution of the fruits of the exploitation of Palestinian workers among the Jewish citizenry.

Matan Kaminer is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Michigan and an Israeli left activist, a member of Academia for Equalityand the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality.

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