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The Foreign Ministry on Monday expressed concern to Russian Ambassador Piotr Stegniy about an "anti-Semitic" promotional video that was shown at a Euroleague basketball game in Moscow last week.
The Russian video clip, which depicted CSKA Moscow as a train running over a hassidic-looking Jewish man meant to represent Maccabi Tel Aviv, was shown to thousands of fans in the arena.
"We view the incident very seriously," a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post. She said Mark Sofer, the Foreign Ministry's deputy director-general for Euro-Asia, had spoken over the telephone with Stegniy, who promised to deal with the matter. Israel also sent a letter of complaint to CSKA's management.
Maccabi chairman Shimon Mizrahi downplayed the incident. He said the decision to show the clip was a mistake that was insensitive to the Israeli players' feelings. But he did not believe it was done out of anti-Semitic motives.
The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said there was no other way to view a clip, in which Israel is represented by a stereotypical image of a haredi-looking man with side curls and a shtreimel. Anti-Semitic chants were also heard from the crowd, she added.
A report released this week by the World Jewish Congress said the number of anti-Semitic incidents involving violence and vandalism had increased by 31 percent worldwide last year. According to the report, it is not unusual for Israeli sports team that play in Europe to hear anti-Semitic chants such as "Death to the Jews."
The report said the 30 incidents of violence and vandalism that occurred in Russia in 2006 were at the same level as in 2005.
Still, the report noted that one of the serious anti-Semitic incidents worldwide took place in Russia. In January 2006, a drunken skinhead stabbed eight people in the Chabad synagogue on Bolshaia Bronnaia Street in Moscow.
In August, according to the report, a petrol bomb was thrown at a synagogue in Khabarovsk, and in November two petrol bombs were hurled at the Jewish cultural center in Surgut.