World

Venezuelan ambassador to U.N. comes under fire for comparing Israelis to Nazis

TOKYO - MAY 29:  Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez arrives for a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso at Aso's official residence on May 29, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Michael Caronna-Pool/Getty Images)

TOKYO - MAY 29: Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez arrives for a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso at Aso's official residence on May 29, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Michael Caronna-Pool/Getty Images)  (2009 Getty Images)

Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations Rafael Ramírez sparked a diplomatic war of words with Israel last week after making comments during a Security Council meeting comparing Israeli policy toward Palestinians to that of the Nazis in Europe during World War II.

“What is Israel planning to do with the Palestinians?” Ramírez asked during the meeting. “Do the Israelis want the Palestinians to disappear? Is Israel preparing a ‘final solution for the Palestinians similar to what was done to them?”

The comment, which occurred the day after Holocaust Remembrance Day, was quickly condemned by officials in Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

“This statement by the Venezuelan Ambassador is clear Anti-Semitism against the Jewish state,” Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon said in a statement. “His remarks are a direct continuations to the Palestinian representative’s statement a few days ago comparing Israel to the Nazis. The Palestinians are bringing Antisemitism into the halls of the UN and are legitimizing racists and crass language in the parliament of nations.”

Ramírez’s comments also earned him the criticism of the person who previously hold his job.

“Instead of contributing to the subject, the representative of Venezuela chose to attack the Israeli state in such a miserable way that he has prompted a very serious international reaction, "Diego Arria, the former Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S said, according to El Nuevo Herald.

Ramírez has since apologized for the comment, saying that he was sorry to the “Jewish people if they were offended by the remarks,” but added that Israel had made a "disproportionate response" to his comments.

"We want to clarify that our country has no position against the Jewish people, no position against the Israeli people," he said. That statement "was politically used (...) there is an entire lobby [effort] aimed at turning our words into something we don’t feel.”

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