WASHINGTON – The US State Department's annual report on International Religious Freedom for 2011 indicates a rise in anti-Semitism and deteriorating religious freedom in China and Iran.
With regards to Israel, the report which was released on Monday stated that "the country’s laws and policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally respected religious freedom."
The report added that "The government did not demonstrate a trend toward either improvement or deterioration in respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom."
Yet it did note that "There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Some individuals and groups were responsible for discriminatory practices against Israeli-Arab Muslims, Christians, and non-Orthodox Jews."
The report notes that Israel has a population of 7.8 million, of which 5.8 million are Jews; 1.6 million are Muslims and Christians; and 322,000 are classified as “other."
"Mostly persons from the former Soviet Union who immigrated under the Law of Return but did not qualify as Jews according to the Orthodox Jewish definition used by the government for civil procedures, although many identify themselves as Jewish."
The State department stresses the Jewish Orthodox control of civil procedures Israel.
The report also focuses on the rise in anti-Semitism around the world "manifested in Holocaust denial, glorification, and relativism; conflating opposition to certain policies of Israel with blatant anti-Semitism.
A rise in "Growing nationalistic movements that target 'the other;' and traditional forms of anti-Semitism, such as conspiracy theories, acts of desecration and assault, “blood libel,” and cartoons demonizing Jews," have also been reported.
In this context, the report mentions anti-Semitic declarations in Venezuela's official media and widespread anti-Israel sentiment in Egyptian media which often included anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denial or glorification.
The report further mentioned web sites promoting Holocaust denial operated with Iran's consent; desecration of Jewish synagogues and cemeteries in France; rise in popularity of an openly anti-Semitic party, (Jobbik party) in Hungary; defacing Jewish property in Ukraine, including a synagogue and several Holocaust monuments and soccer matches in the Ukraine and the Netherlands marred by anti-Semitic slogans.