Jackson DiehlWashington PostAugust 7, 2006; Page A15Last week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a news conference at which he launched into a vitriolic denunciation of Israel, "the usurper Zionist regime," for its bombing of civilians in Lebanon. For a politician who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and called for Israel's extinction, it was pretty routine stuff.Then the visiting head of state standing next to Ahmadinejad piped up. "Do they want war because they have the devil inside them?" demanded Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, speaking of the Jewish state. "I say to them from here, from Iran, once and a thousand times: Murderers! Cowards! Frankly, their fate has been sealed, from the depths of the people's soul."No wonder Ahmadinejad had just described Chávez as a "brother and trench mate." But the Venezuelan wasn't finished. Israel's acts, he said, reminded him of a time when Simon Bolivar had invoked the story of Cain and Abel to talk about an enemy. "Bolivar said that day: 'God, if you have justice, throw a lightning bolt at the monsters,' " Chávez pronounced. "I would say today: 'God, throw the lightning bolts at the monsters.' Inshallah ."According to BBC Monitoring, Chávez won a round of applause from his Iranian friends. Curiously, though, his tirade got almost no attention outside Tehran. In a week during which a movie star was pilloried for a somewhat milder anti-Semitic outburst (and Mel Gibson at least could say he was drunk), no one seemed to care about the hate speech of the president of a large South American country and one of the world's biggest oil exporters -- a man who has been conducting a frenetic campaign to win his government a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council.In fact, Chávez's performance was in keeping with the character of an eight-nation tour that took him from Argentina to Benin. But Israel was not his main concern. At each stop, the self-styled "Bolivarian revolutionary" delivered superheated denunciations of the United States and called for a global coalition to combat "the U.S. imperialist monster."