Washington, DC – The vast majority of foreign ministers at the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly meeting in Lima, Peru, last week rejected a measure – proposed by Ecuador – to condemn Israel over the flotilla incident near Gaza. Only 10 of the 33 ministers voted in favour of the measure.

In high-level meetings at the OAS just days earlier, a B’nai B’rith International delegation had stressed the importance of keeping non-regional conflicts out of meetings and OAS business, especially when the region has so many important issues to deal with such as poverty, discrimination, and the increase in local and trans-border crime.

The failure of the Ecuador measure may be attributable to a desire by most OAS members to limit the group’s activities to issues directly relevant to the region.

Unfortunately, Ecuador’s efforts once again demonstrate a frightening like-mindedness with Venezuela’s anti-Israel and antisemitic vitriol.

During a recent nationally televised address, Venezualan President Hugo Chavez angrily denounced Israel as a “genocidal state” following the efforts of the Free Gaza Now movement to break the security blockade of Gaza. Using such words to describe Israel as a “cursed terrorist and murderous state,” Chavez once again solidified his credentials as a dangerous leader.

Chavez displayed his ferocious hatred of Israel when he told his countrymen, “Israel is financing the Venezuelan opposition. There are even groups of Israeli terrorists, of the Mossad, who are after me trying to kill me.”

Chavez has long-promoted and fostered antagonism against the Jewish population of Venezuela, as well as against the Jewish state. A series of attacks on synagogues in 2009 has left the Jewish community of Venezuela feeling threatened.

While grateful the Ecuador motion failed, B’nai B’rith International hopes that in the future the OAS is more pro-active in condemning such remarks.