US report: Anti-Semitism rages in several countries

State Department rights report singles out Venezuela and Ukraine, calls anti-Israel sentiment "widespread" in Palestinian Authority.

Anti Semitism 390 (photo credit: Reuters)
Anti Semitism 390
(photo credit: Reuters)
Anti-Semitism is a significant problem in several countries, according to the US State Department’s 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released on Friday.
The report, which details issues such as prison conditions, treatment of minorities, sexual equality and Internet freedom, included a section on anti-Semitism in each country covered.
In Venezuela, “Jewish community leaders publicly expressed concern about numerous anti-Semitic statements linked to the government,” the report noted, adding that the “state-owned media also regularly contained anti-Semitic statements” such as an article stating that “the enemy is Zionism.”
In Ukraine, the State Department reported, the Jewish community expressed concern over both government and opposition candidates in recent elections trying to “use elements of anti-Semitism both in their public rhetoric to mobilize supporters and also as part of propaganda aimed at discrediting their political opponents.”
The report said, however, that Ukrainian “senior government officials and politicians from various political parties continued efforts to combat anti-Semitism by speaking out against extremism and social intolerance and criticizing anti-Semitic acts.”
Members of the local community have been apprehensive over their security since the far-right Svoboda (Freedom) party won more than 10 percent of the vote in Ukraine’s parliamentary election in October.
Despite the electoral success of Svoboda, the US report stated that according to the local Jewish community, long-term data indicates “‘a trend of improvement’ in the level of anti-Semitism.”
The document quoted communal sources as asserting that “over the last four to five years, there has been a continuous decline in the number of anti- Semitic publications in the press; in the number of acts of vandalism of cemeteries, memorials and synagogues; and the number of assaults on the street of Jewish people.”
This has been complemented, the report added, by “declining negative attitudes toward Jewish persons in public opinion polls.”
In Hungary, more than 149 incidents of vandalism of Jewish and Christian properties were reported during the first 10 months of 2012, and “through July, a spate of anti-Semitic incidents occurred that included vandalism of Jewish memorials and cemeteries and the accosting of Jewish public figures on the streets.
“Anti-Semitic remarks in public discourse also increased in stridency and included both a repetition of ‘blood libel’ accusations and a call for the creation of a list of Jewish government officials and members of parliament on the floor of parliament.”
The situation in Hungary merited more attention than other countries in the report, with particular attention paid to members of the far-right Jobbik party, which entered parliament in the April 2010 election.
Jobbik party leader Marton Gyongyosi’s claim on the floor of the parliament that Jews constitute a “security risk” was denounced by the “government, civil society groups, and the public at large,” the report noted.
The document also discussed efforts by Hungarian politicians “to rehabilitate the reputations of several World War II era figures associated with anti-Semitism. A number of localities erected statues or memorial plaques to former regent Miklos Horthy, leader of the country between 1920 and 1944, who presided over an alliance with Nazi Germany and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens to concentration camps.”
Regarding Greece, the report discussed the rise of the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party, although not at the same depth at which it treated Jobbik.
Golden Dawn, the report stated, is characterized by the Jewish community and the Anti-Defamation League as “a neo- Nazi, anti-Semitic party that used an allegedly swastika-inspired emblem, employed a Nazi salute, referenced Mein Kampf and denied the Holocaust.”
As for the United Kingdom, the report cited a drop in anti-Semitic incidents in from 2011.
According to a recently released report by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, 2012 saw a “considerable escalation in anti-Semitic manifestations, particularly violent acts against Jews” worldwide, constituting a 30-percent increase over 2011.
There were 686 acts of violence and vandalism last year, including “273 attacks on persons of all ages; in addition, 190 synagogues, cemeteries and monuments were desecrated, and over 200 private and public properties damaged, the Kantor Center report recorded.