WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State John Kerry presented the 2012 International Religious Freedom Report, which indicates a sharp rise in displays of anti-Semitism worldwide.
According to the report, Holocaust denial and glorification remained troubling themes, and opposition to Israeli policy at times was used to promote or justify blatant anti-Semitism.
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"When political leaders condoned anti-Semitism, it set the tone for its persistence and growth in countries around the world. Of great concern were expressions of anti-Semitism by government officials, by religious leaders, and by the media, particularly in Venezuela, Egypt, and Iran. At times, such statements led to desecration and violence," the report states.
In Venezuela, the State Department's report noted, the government-controlled media published numerous anti-Semitic statements, particularly in relation to opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, a Catholic with Jewish ancestors.
Separately, during an anti-Israel protest in November, a group of individuals gathered outside a synagogue chanting anti-Jewish slogans and throwing fireworks.
Regularly vilified Judaism. Ahmadinejad (Photo: EPA)
In Egypt, anti-Semitic sentiment in the media was widespread and sometimes included Holocaust denial or glorification.
The reported mentioned that on October 19, President Mohamed Morsi said “Amen” during televised prayers in Mansour after an imam stated, “Oh Allah ... grant us victory over the infidels. Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters.” Also in October, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei made several anti-Semitic statements, including saying in a sermon that was also published online that “It is time for the Muslim (nation) to unite for the sake of Jerusalem and Palestine after the Jews have increased the corruption in the world….” He added that “Zionists only know the way of force.”
Henrique Capriles (Photo: EPA)
The State Department's report said that in Iran, the government regularly vilified Judaism in 2012. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued to question the existence and the scope of the Holocaust, and stated that “a horrendous Zionist clan” had been “ruling the major world affairs” for some 400 years, while Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi publicly blamed the “Zionists” for spreading illegal drugs around the world.
In Tunisia, Salafists (fundamentalist Sunni Muslims) attacked synagogues and issued anti-Semitic messages, as did some imams during Friday prayer sermons. Certain Salafist imams preached anti-Jewish and anti-Christian messages, including calling for the killing of non-Muslim citizens. Police arrested five persons, including one police officer, for allegedly plotting to kidnap Jews in Zarzis in October for ransom.
In Ukraine, vandals desecrated several Holocaust memorials. In May, in Russia, vandals painted a swastika on a St. Petersburg synagogue’s fence, and in July, vandals painted a swastika on a synagogue wall in Irkutsk.
"Even well into the 21st century, traditional forms of anti-Semitism, such as conspiracy theories, use of the discredited myth of 'blood libel,' and cartoons demonizing Jews, continued to flourish," the report said.
An anti-Semitic cartoon appeared in a major newspaper in Argentina, and a member of the Golden Dawn party in Greece read from the notorious Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, during a parliamentary session. In a worrisome sign, such anti-Semitic and xenophobic parties gained seats in parliaments, and a rise in violent attacks on Jews in Europe included several shocking incidents.
Hungary saw continued racist commentary by an openly anti-Semitic political party with seats in parliament, the Jobbik Party, and also witnessed an attack on a member of the Jewish community outside of a prayer house in Budapest. In France, an Islamist extremist killed a rabbi and his two children, along with another student, outside a Jewish school in Toulouse. While a number of governments took active measures to combat anti-Semitism, this pernicious evil continued to spread.
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