Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has rejected charges he made anti-Semitic remarks last month.
Speaking to the Venezuelan parliament Friday, President Chavez said a call for an apology by the U.S.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center is part of what he called an "imperialist campaign."
The Wiesenthal Center had asked Mr. Chavez to apologize for comments he made in a Christmas Eve speech regarding, "descendants of those who crucified Christ" and those who "took the world's riches for themselves."
A group of Venezuelan Jewish leaders on Friday defended the president and criticized the Wiesenthal Center for speaking out without consulting the Venezuelan Jewish community. The group says Mr. Chavez did not specifically target Jews in his speech.
The group also said the world's Jews must learn to work together.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.