US: Muslim states, UN fuel anti-Semitism

State Department report says anti-Zionism has the effect of promoting hatred of Jewish people.

Ahmadinejad at UN 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Ahmadinejad at UN 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
There has been an upsurge in anti-Semitism over the past decade, much of it a new form whose "distinguishing feature" is criticism of Israel, according to a State Department report released over the weekend. The 94-page report on 2007 criticizes many Muslim and Arab countries for encouraging anti-Semitism, and an entire chapter is devoted to anti-Semitism at the United Nations. "Motives for criticizing Israel in the UN may stem from legitimate concerns over policy or from illegitimate prejudices," the report reads. "However, regardless of the intent, disproportionate criticism of Israel as barbaric and unprincipled, and corresponding discriminatory measures adopted in the UN against Israel, have the effect of causing audiences to associate negative attributes with Jews in general, thus fueling anti-Semitism." The report lists forms of anti-Semitic crimes including terrorist attacks against Jews, desecration of synagogues and destruction of cemeteries. In addition, it cites anti-Semitic rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and other propaganda. While the report notes that traditional forms of anti-Semitism continue to be found across the globe, "anti-Semitism has proven to be an adaptive phenomenon." The new forms often incorporate elements of traditional anti-Semitism, but "the distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that - whether intentionally or unintentionally - has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel's perceived faults to its Jewish character." While this new anti-Semitism is "common throughout the Middle East and in Muslim communities in Europe," it is not confined to these populations, the report finds. The document's introduction singles out Iran and Syria for their demonization of Jews, and adds, "Venezuela's government-sponsored mass media have become vehicles for anti-Semitic discourse, as have government news media in Saudi Arabia and Egypt." It names Britain, France and Germany as European countries where "anti-Semitic violence remains a significant concern," but also lists other Western nations as experiencing recent increases, including Argentina, Australia and Canada. The report, a follow-up on one issued in 2005, compiled data from government and NGO sources around the world. This year's report was dedicated to the late Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman who passed away last month. A Holocaust survivor, he co-sponsored the legislation creating the Office of the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, which issued the report. "Today's report provides evidence of a disturbing resurgence in anti-Semitism around the globe," the new House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Rep. Howard Berman, also of California, said in a statement issued Thursday. "All too often, legitimate criticism of the State of Israel can veer into naked anti-Semitism characterized by vile hate speech," Berman said. "And all too often, it goes unchallenged. When hate speech arises, we should call it what it is - and do what can be done to stop it." The report was welcomed by the Anti-Defamation League, whose national director, Abraham Foxman, said, "The report not only focuses attention on the problem, but sets important benchmarks and criteria for foreign governments as well as for US monitoring and diplomacy." "We hope that this call to action by the United States government will encourage countries to do more to monitor and combat anti-Semitism," he said.