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Report on Global Anti-Semitism
July 1, 2003 – December 15, 2004, submitted by the Department of State to the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on International Relations in accordance with Section 4 of PL 108-332, December 30, 2004


Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
January 5, 2005

Executive Summary 

I.  Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism has plagued the world for centuries. Taken to its most far-reaching and violent extreme, the Holocaust, anti-Semitism resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews and the suffering of countless others. Subtler, less vile forms of anti-Semitism have disrupted lives, decimated religious communities, created social and political cleavages, and complicated relations between countries as well as the work of international organizations. For an increasingly interdependent world, anti-Semitism is an intolerable burden.

The increasing frequency and severity of anti-Semitic incidents since the start of the 21st century, particularly in Europe, has compelled the international community to focus on anti-Semitism with renewed vigor. Attacks on individual Jews and on Jewish properties occurred in the immediate post World War II period, but decreased over time and were primarily linked to vandalism and criminal activity. In recent years, incidents have been more targeted in nature with perpetrators appearing to have the specific intent to attack Jews and Judaism. These attacks have disrupted the sense of safety and well being of Jewish communities.

The definition of anti-Semitism has been the focus of innumerable discussions and studies. While there is no universally accepted definition, there is a generally clear understanding of what the term encompasses.

For the purposes of this report, anti-Semitism is considered to be hatred toward Jews—individually and as a group—that can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity. An important issue is the distinction between legitimate criticism of policies and practices of the State of Israel, and commentary that assumes an anti-Semitic character. The demonization of Israel, or vilification of Israeli leaders, sometimes through comparisons with Nazi leaders, and through the use of Nazi symbols to caricature them, indicates an anti-Semitic bias rather than a valid criticism of policy concerning a controversial issue.

Global anti-Semitism in recent years has had four main sources:

  • Traditional anti-Jewish prejudice that has pervaded Europe and some countries in other parts of the world for centuries. This includes ultra-nationalists and others who assert that the Jewish community controls governments, the media, international business, and the financial world.
  • Strong anti-Israel sentiment that crosses the line between objective criticism of Israeli policies and anti-Semitism.
  • Anti-Jewish sentiment expressed by some in Europe's growing Muslim population, based on longstanding antipathy toward both Israel and Jews, as well as Muslim opposition to developments in Israel and the occupied territories, and more recently in Iraq.
  • Criticism of both the United States and globalization that spills over to Israel, and to Jews in general who are identified with both.

II. Harassment, Vandalism and Physical Violence

Europe and Eurasia

Anti-Semitism in Europe increased significantly in recent years. At the same time it should be noted that many European countries have comprehensive reporting systems that record incidents more completely than is possible in other countries. Because of this significant difference in reporting systems, it is not possible to make direct comparisons between countries or geographic regions. Beginning in 2000, verbal attacks directed against Jews increased while incidents of vandalism (e.g. graffiti, fire bombings of Jewish schools, desecration of synagogues and cemeteries) surged. Physical assaults including beatings, stabbings and other violence against Jews in Europe increased markedly, in a number of cases resulting in serious injury and even death. Also troubling is a bias that spills over into anti-Semitism in some of the left-of-center press and among some intellectuals.

The disturbing rise of anti-Semitic intimidation and incidents is widespread throughout Europe, although with significant variations in the number of cases and the accuracy of reporting. European governments in most countries now view anti-Semitism as a serious problem for their societies and demonstrate a greater willingness to address the issue. The Vienna-based European Union Monitoring Center (EUMC), for 2002 and 2003, identified France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and The Netherlands as EU member countries with notable increases in incidents. As these nations keep reliable and comprehensive statistics on anti-Semitic acts, and are engaged in combating anti-Semitism, their data was readily available to the EUMC. Governments and leading public figures condemned the violence, passed new legislation, and mounted positive law enforcement and educational efforts.

In Western Europe, traditional far-right groups still account for a significant proportion of the attacks against Jews and Jewish properties; disadvantaged and disaffected Muslim youths increasingly were responsible for most of the other incidents. This trend appears likely to persist as the number of Muslims in Europe continues to grow while their level of education and economic prospects remain limited.

In Eastern Europe, with a much smaller Muslim population, skinheads and others members of the radical political fringe were responsible for most anti-Semitic incidents. Anti-Semitism remained a serious problem in Russia and Belarus, and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, with most incidents carried out by ultra-nationalist and other far-right elements. The stereotype of Jews as manipulators of the global economy continues to provide fertile ground for anti-Semitic aggression.

Holocaust and tolerance education as well as teacher training provide a potential long-term solution to anti-Semitism; however, the problem is still rapidly outpacing the solution. At the end of 2003, and continuing into this year, some Jews, especially in Europe, faced the dilemma either of hiding their identity or facing harassment and sometimes even serious bodily injury and death. The heavy psychological toll in this increasingly difficult environment should not be overlooked or underestimated.

Middle East

Jews left the countries of the Middle East and North Africa in large numbers near the mid-point of the last century as their situation became increasingly precarious. This trend continues. Today few remain, and few incidents involving the remaining members of the Jewish community have been reported. Nonetheless, Syria condoned and, in some cases, even supported through radio, television programming, news articles, and other mass media the export of a virulent domestic anti-Semitism. The official and state-supported media's anti-Zionist propaganda frequently adopts the terminology and symbols of the Holocaust to demonize Israel and its leaders. This rhetoric often crosses the line separating the legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies to become anti-Semitic vilification posing as legitimate political commentary. At the same time, Holocaust denial and Holocaust minimization efforts find increasingly overt acceptance as sanctioned historical discourse in a number of Middle Eastern countries.

Other Regions

The problem of anti-Semitism is not only significant in Europe and in the Middle East, but there are also worrying expressions of it elsewhere. For example, in Pakistan, a country without a Jewish community, anti-Semitic sentiment fanned by anti-Semitic articles in the press is widespread. This reflects the more recent phenomenon of anti-Semitism appearing in countries where historically or currently there are few or even no Jews.

Elsewhere, in Australia, the level of intimidation and attacks against Jews and Jewish property and anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric decreased somewhat over the past year. This year, New Zealand experienced several desecrations of Jewish tombstones and other incidents. In the Americas, in addition to manifestations of anti-Semitism in the United States, Canada experienced a significant increase in attacks against Jews and Jewish property. There were notable anti-Semitic incidents in Argentina and isolated incidents in a number of other Latin American countries.

III. Media

The proliferation of media outlets (television, radio, print media and the internet) has vastly increased the opportunity for purveyors of anti-Semitic material to spread their propaganda unhindered. Anti-hate laws provide some protection, but freedom of expression safeguards in many western countries limited the preventive measures that governments could take. Satellite television programming easily shifts from one provider to another and Internet offerings cross international borders with few or no impediments.

In June, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) organized a separate meeting in Paris dealing with intolerance on the Internet, and subsequently approved a decision on "Promoting Tolerance and Media Freedom on the Internet." The decision is prescriptive in nature and carefully caveated to avoid conflict with the varied legal systems within the countries of the OSCE. It calls upon Participating States to investigate and fully prosecute criminal threats of violence based on anti-Semitic and other intolerance on the Internet, as well as to establish programs to educate children about hate speech and other forms of bias.

Critics of Israel frequently use anti-Semitic cartoons depicting anti-Jewish images and caricatures to attack the State of Israel and its policies, as well as Jewish communities and others who support Israel. These media attacks can lack any pretext of balance or even factual basis and focus on the demonization of Israel. The United States is frequently included as a target of such attacks, which often assert that U.S. foreign policy is made in Israel or that Jews control the media and financial markets in the United States and the rest of the world. During the 2004 United States presidential campaign, the Arab press ran numerous cartoons closely identifying both of the major American political parties with Israel and with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon.

"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a text debunked many years ago as a fraud perpetrated by Czarist intelligence agents, continued to appear in the Middle East media, not as a hoax, but as established fact. Government-sponsored television in Syria ran lengthy serials based on the Protocols. The presentations emphasized blood libel and the alleged control by the Jewish community of international finance. The clear purpose of the programs was to incite hatred of Jews and of Israel. Copies of the Protocols and other similar anti-Semitic forgeries were readily available in Middle Eastern countries, former Soviet republics and elsewhere. Similarly, allegations that Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks were widely disseminated.

In November 2004, Al-Manar, the Lebanon-based television network controlled by Hizballah featuring blatantly anti-Semitic material, obtained a limited 1-year satellite broadcast license from the French authorities. This was revoked shortly thereafter due to Al-Manar's continued transmission of anti-Semitic material. Al-Manar is now off the air in France. Other Middle East networks with questionable content, such as Al-Jazeerah and Al-Arrabiya, maintain their French broadcast licenses.

IV. Actions by Governments

In Europe and other geographic regions, many governments became increasingly aware of the threat presented by anti-Semitism and spoke out against it. Some took effective measures to combat it with several countries, including France, Belgium, and Germany, now providing enhanced protection for members of the Jewish community and Jewish properties.

For the most part, the police response to anti-Semitic incidents was uneven. Most law enforcement officials are not specifically trained to deal with hate crimes, particularly anti-Semitic hate crimes. Police sometimes dismissed such crimes as hooliganism or petty crime, rather than attacks against Jews because of their ethnicity or religion, or because the assailants identified the victims with the actions of the State of Israel.

In countries where anti-Semitism is a serious problem, specialized training for police and members of the judiciary remains a pressing need. Many nations still do not have hate crime laws that address anti-Semitic and other intolerance-related crimes. In some instances where such laws already exist, stronger enforcement is needed.

V. Multilateral Action

Anti-Semitism is a global problem that requires a coordinated multinational approach. Thus far, the most effective vehicle for international cooperation has been the OSCE, comprised of 55 participating states from Europe, Eurasia and North America plus Mediterranean and Asian partners for cooperation. The OSCE organized two groundbreaking conferences on anti-Semitism--in June 2003, in Vienna and in April 2004, in Berlin. These were the first international conferences to focus high-level political attention solely on the problem of anti-Semitism. The Vienna Conference identified anti-Semitism as a human rights issue.

OSCE Foreign Ministers gave further high-level political acknowledgment to the seriousness of anti-Semitism at their December 2003 meeting in Maastricht. There they took the formal decision to spotlight the need to combat anti-Semitism by deciding to task the OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to serve as a collection point for hate crimes information. ODIHR is now working with OSCE member states to collect information on hate crimes legislation and to promote "best practices" in the areas of law enforcement, combating hate crimes, and education. ODIHR established a Program on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination and now has an advisor to deal exclusively with the issue.

At their December 2004 meeting in Sofia, OSCE Foreign Ministers welcomed the Chair-in-Office's decision to appoint three special representatives for tolerance issues, including a special representative for anti-Semitism, to work with member states on implementing specific commitments to fight anti-Semitism. In addition, the Foreign Ministers accepted the Spanish Government's offer to host a third anti-Semitism conference in June 2005 in Cordoba.

The United Nations also took important measures in the fight against anti-Semitism. One was a June 2004 seminar on anti-Semitism hosted by Secretary General Kofi Annan. Another measure was a resolution of the United Nations Third Committee in November 2004, which called for the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, explicitly including anti-Semitism.

Education remains a potentially potent antidote for anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance. Following the first Stockholm Conference in 1998, convoked out of concern for the decreasing level of knowledge of the Holocaust particularly among the younger generation, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States decided to address the issue collaboratively. The Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) emerged from this initial effort.

Today the ITF, an informal international organization operating on the basis of consensus, and without a bureaucracy, consists of 20 countries. ITF member states agree to commit themselves to the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust and to its implementation. Current members of the ITF include Argentina, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition, four other countries (Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia) maintain a liaison relationship with the ITF.

VI. U.S. Government Actions to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism

The U.S. Government is committed to monitoring and combating anti-Semitism throughout the world as an important human rights and religious freedom issue. As President Bush said when he signed the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act on October 16, 2004, "Defending freedom also means disrupting the evil of anti-Semitism."

Annually, the U.S. Department of State publishes the International Religious Freedom Report and the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Both detail incidents and trends of anti-Semitism worldwide. The State Department's instructions to U.S. Embassies for the 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices explicitly required them to describe acts of violence against Jews and Jewish properties, as well as actions governments are taking to prevent this form of bigotry and prejudice.

In multilateral fora, the Department of State called for recognition of the rise of anti-Semitism and the development of specific measures to address it. The Department played a leading role in reaching agreement in the OSCE to hold the two conferences on combating anti-Semitism noted above in Section V. Former New York City Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Edward Koch led the United States delegations to the conferences in Vienna and Berlin, respectively. Each brought a wealth of knowledge and experience in fostering respect for minorities in multicultural communities. Key NGOs worked productively with the Department to prepare for these conferences. In his address to the Berlin Conference, Secretary Powell said: "We must not permit anti-Semitic crimes to be shrugged off as inevitable side effects of inter-ethnic conflicts. Political disagreements do not justify physical assaults against Jews in our streets, the destruction of Jewish schools, or the desecration of synagogues and cemeteries. There is no justification for anti-Semitism." At the United Nations, the United States has supported resolutions condemning anti-Semitism both at the General Assembly and at the UN Commission on Human Rights.

An important lesson of the Holocaust is that bigotry and intolerance can lead to future atrocities and genocides if not addressed forcefully by governments and other sectors of society. The United States is committed to working bilaterally to promote efforts with other governments to arrest and roll back the increase in anti-Semitism. President Bush affirmed that commitment during his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 2003, stating: "This site is a sobering reminder that when we find anti-Semitism, whether it be in Europe, in America or anywhere else, mankind must come together to fight such dark impulses."

U.S. Embassies implement this commitment by speaking out against anti-Semitic acts and hate crimes. Ambassadors and other embassy officers work with local Jewish communities to encourage prompt law enforcement action against hate crimes. In Turkey, the U.S. Embassy worked closely with the Jewish community following the November 2003 bombing of the Neve Shalom Synagogue. In the Middle East, our embassies have protested to host governments against practices that have allowed their institutions to promote anti-Semitism, such as the heavily watched television series Rider Without a Horse and Diaspora that respectively promoted the canard of the blood libel, and "The Protocols of Elders of Zion." U.S. bilateral demarches were effective in specific instances, but more remains to be done to encourage national leaders to speak out forcefully against anti-Semitism and in support of respectful, tolerant societies.

Building on the success achieved to date, the Department of State is accelerating its efforts with its partners globally to improve both monitoring and combating anti-Semitism in three specific areas: education, legislation, and law enforcement. The Department will continue to promote the development of Holocaust education curricula and teacher training programs. A successful program in this area has been summer teacher training partially funded through U.S. Embassies in cooperation with the Association of American Holocaust Organizations (AHO) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). At the October 2004 OSCE Human Dimension Meeting, the United States and France hosted a seminar on methodologies for teaching the Holocaust in multicultural societies. The United States also supports the work of NGOs in promoting educational programs abroad, in part based on successful seminars in the United States that teach respect for individuals and minority groups. Additionally, the U.S. State Department has supported efforts to promote tolerance in the Saudi educational system including by sponsoring the travel of religious educators to the United States to examine interreligious education.

The roots of anti-Semitism run deep and the United States does not underestimate the difficulty of reversing the recent resurgence of this ancient scourge. The legislative and executive branches, together with NGOs, constitute an important partnership in continuing the vital effort to find creative ways to monitor, contain, and finally stop anti-Semitism. 18-08-2005

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