A few days ago, Via Meadia wrote about the disparaging anti-Semitic (and homophobic) attacks against the main opposition candidate in the upcoming Venezuelan presidential election, Henrique Capriles Radonski (who, we noted, is actually a practicing Catholic with Jewish heritage). Since our post, Matthew Fishbane, a senior editor at Tablet, has called attention to the deep roots of the Venezuelan Jewish community, the mass exodus of Jews from the country since Chávez’s election, and how that exodus has accelerated economic stagnation in the neighborhoods of Caracas that once benefited from a vibrant Jewish business community.As Fishbane explains, Chávez has bolstered his “hybrid of populism and socialism soldered onto a Napoleonic personality cult” with political tools that give him enough votes to maintain at least a patina of popular support. The most effective of these tools are social welfare and subsidy programs, which keep the Caracas poor hemmed in the Chávez camp.Another tool is anti-Semitism. For some time now, the government has targeted the dwindling Jewish community in Venezuela in order to win over business elites who feel increasingly threatened by successful Jewish businessmen and their Sambils (malls), which Chávez characterizes as examples of “excessive consumerism.” The fact that Capriles, not even a practicing Jew, is getting this treatment shows that the smear has been effective.Not surprisingly, many successful businessmen (of many different religions) have left the country for greener pastures. The government’s attacks on wealthy elites, whether Gentile or Jew, might jibe with his traditional base in an election, but they bode ill for Venezuela’s financial and cultural future.