WASHINGTON (AFP) — Jews worldwide are facing a new form of anti-Semitism disguised by hatred toward Israel, in addition to more traditional forms of anti-Semitism, a new US report said Thursday.
"This new anti-Semitism is common throughout the Middle East and in Muslim communities in Europe, but it is not confined to these populations," the US State Department said in a report for 2007.
It said United Nations bodies, for example, are frequently asked to "commission investigations of what often are sensationalized reports of alleged atrocities and other violations of human rights by Israel," it said.
While the motive may be to defuse a crisis or offer a forum to channel anger, the effect of "unremitting criticism of Israel" bolsters the idea that the Jewish state is a leading source of "abuse of the rights of others," it said.
At the same time UN bodies often fail to "pay attention to regimes that are demonstrably guilty of grave violations," it added.
"Comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is increasingly commonplace," said the report from the State Department which is required under legislation passed in 2004 to document and combat anti-Semitic acts worldwide.
"Anti-Semitism couched as criticism of Zionism or Israel often escapes condemnation since it can be more subtle than traditional forms of anti-Semitism, and promoting anti-Semitic attitudes may not be the conscious intent of the purveyor," it said.
"Israel's policies and practices must be subject to responsible criticism and scrutiny to the same degree as those of any other country," it said.
Critics of Israel have a "responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in prompting hatred of Jews," it said, adding that hostility toward Israel has at times manifested itself in violence toward Jews.
It added that there was a sudden increase in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide during the war between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.
The report singled out a number of leaders, governments and state-sponsored institutions for fanning the flames of anti-Semitism, with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the top of the list.
It also took to task the Syrian government, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as well as the government-backed Venezuelan, Saudi Arabian and Egyptian media.
"Chavez has publicly demonized Israel and utilized stereotypes about Jewish financial influence and control," it said.
More traditional anti-Semitism remains a problem in Russia, it said.
"In France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, anti-Semitic violence remains a significant concern," it said.
"Recent increases in anti-Semitic incidents have been documented in Argentina, Australia, Canada, South Africa and beyond," it added.
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