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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 

Anti-Semitism in the Near East and North Africa Region

Society and legislation in nations in the region, except for Israel and Lebanon, reflect the views of an overwhelmingly Muslim population and a strong Islamic tradition. At times, both social behavior and legislation discriminated against members of minority religions. Government efforts to limit or reprimand anti-Semitic expressions have been infrequent, and governments in the region generally have made only minimal efforts to promote anti-bias and tolerance education.

Anti-Semitic violence was almost entirely associated with anti-Israeli terrorism and was not geographically widespread. Numerous attacks occurred in Israel and in the Occupied Territories, and incitements to violence originated from the Occupied Territories. As well, terrorist bombings in Morocco in May 2003 and at the Taba Hilton in Egypt in October were accompanied by communiqués containing anti-Semitic as well as anti-Israeli statements. Terrorist organizations' propaganda in the region frequently was anti-Semitic, as well as anti-Israeli.

Anti-Israeli sentiment linked to the Palestinian question was widespread throughout the Arab population in the region and incorporated anti-Semitic stereotypes in the print and electronic media, public discourse, religious sermons, and the educational system. Additionally, there were some restrictions on Jewish citizens' ability to participate in political life in Syria and Yemen.

Anti-Semitism in the media was the most common form of anti-Semitism in the region. Anti-Semitic articles and opinion pieces, usually rhetoric by political columnists, were published, and editorial cartoons depicted demonic images of Jews and Israeli leaders, stereotypical images of Jews along with Jewish symbols, and comparisons of Israeli leaders to Hitler and the Nazis. These expressions occurred in certain publications and were not common, but they did occur without Government response in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Anti-Semitic articles appeared periodically in the Algerian press without Government response. Apart from Israel and the settlements in the Occupied Territories, the Jewish population in the region is very small. Most of the Jewish population that previously lived in the region has migrated to Israel, Europe, and North America. The "American Jewish Yearbook 2004" estimated the Jewish population in the region to have been: Israel 4,880,000; West Bank and Gaza 220,000; Iran 11,000; Morocco 5,500; Tunisia 1,500; Yemen 200; Egypt 100; and Syria 100.


Anti-Semitic articles and opinion pieces in the print media and editorial cartoons appeared in the press and electronic media. For example, on March 18, Abdelwahab Ads, deputy editor of Al Jumhuriya, accused the Jews of the terrorist attack in Madrid on March 11 as well as of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

On June 24 and July 1, the National Democratic Party (NDP) newspaper al-Lewa al-Islami published articles by Professor Refaat Sayed Ahmed in which he denied the Holocaust. On August 25, the NDP announced that it had banned Professor Ahmed from future publishing, that the editor who approved his article had been fired, and that the NDP and the Government rejected anti-Semitism and acknowledged the reality of the Holocaust.

The Government reportedly has advised journalists and cartoonists to avoid anti-Semitism. Government officials insisted that anti-Semitic statements in the media are a reaction to Israeli government actions against Palestinians and do not reflect historical anti-Semitism; however, there are relatively few public attempts to distinguish between anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment.

On January 5, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld a 2001 lower court decision to cancel the Abu Hasira festival (for Jewish pilgrims) in the Beheira Governorate. In 2003, the Ministry of Culture had designated Abu Hasira's tomb as a "historic site" and ruled that an annual festival could be held. Villagers around the shrine protested, claiming that the Jewish visitors aggravated the locals with their drinking.

In December 2003, following international expressions of concern, the special collections section of the Alexandria Library removed a copy of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" from a display of religious manuscripts. In a statement, the director of the library denied allegations that the book had been displayed next to the Torah, but nonetheless stated that its inclusion was a "bad judgment" and regretted any offense the incident might have caused.


According to some NGOs, the media contained anti-Semitic content, including articles and editorial cartoons. Although Jews are a recognized religious minority with a reserved seat in parliament (the Majlis), allegations of official discrimination were frequent. The Government's anti-Israeli policies, along with a perception among radical Muslims that all Jewish citizens support Zionism and Israel, created a hostile atmosphere for the 11,000-member community. For example, many newspapers celebrated the 100th anniversary of the publication of the anti-Semitic "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Recent demonstrations have included the denunciation of "Jews," as opposed to the past practice of denouncing only "Israel" and "Zionism," adding to the threatening atmosphere for the community.

The Government reportedly allowed Hebrew instruction; however, it strongly discouraged the distribution of Hebrew texts, which made it difficult to teach the language. Jewish citizens were permitted to obtain passports and to travel outside the country, but they often were denied the multiple-exit permits normally issued to other citizens. With the exception of certain business travelers, the authorities required Jewish persons to obtain clearance and pay additional fees before each trip abroad. The Government appeared concerned about the emigration of Jewish citizens, and permission generally was not granted for all members of a Jewish family to travel outside the country at the same time. Jewish leaders reportedly were reluctant to draw attention to official mistreatment of their community due to fear of government reprisal.


After the promulgation of the Transitional Administrative Law in February, the former Governing Council addressed the question of whether Jewish expatriates would be allowed to vote in the 2005 elections. It announced that they would be treated like any other expatriate group. The Government has also denied unfounded rumors (sometimes spread in flyers distributed by antigovernment extremist groups) that Jewish expatriates were buying up real estate in an attempt to reassert their influence in the country.


Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades attacked Israelis and sometimes issued anti-Semitic statements following their attacks.

The Government has actively sought to enlist the international community, including international organizations, to address anti-Semitism. Government officials routinely traveled to other countries to discuss perceived problems of anti-Semitism in those countries. Several local NGOs were dedicated to promoting tolerance and religious co-existence. Their programs included events to increase Jewish-Arab dialogue and cooperation.


Religious tolerance was integral to the country's political system; however, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel's occupation of South Lebanon nurtured a strong antipathy toward Israelis, and Lebanese media often reflected that sentiment. Hizballah, through its media outlets, regularly directed strong rhetoric against Israel and its Jewish population and characterized events in the region as part of a "Zionist conspiracy."

The TV series, Ash-Shatat ("The Diaspora"), which centered on the alleged conspiracy of the "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" to dominate the world, was aired in October and November 2003 by the Lebanon-based satellite television network Al-Manar, which is owned by the terrorist organization Hizballah.


Representatives of the centuries-old Jewish minority generally lived throughout the country in safety; however, in September 2003, a Jewish merchant was murdered in an apparently religiously motivated killing. During the May 2003 terrorist attacks, members of the Salafiya Jihadia targeted a Jewish community center in Casablanca. After the attacks, Muslims marched in solidarity with Jews to condemn terrorism. There have been thousands of arrests and many prosecutions of persons tied to the May bombing and other extremist activity. Annual Jewish commemorations normally took place around the country, and Jewish pilgrims from around the region regularly came to holy sites in the country. The Government actively promoted tolerance. Government officials and private citizens often cited the country's tradition of religious tolerance as one of its strengths.

Occupied Territories

Palestinian terrorist groups carried out attacks against Israeli civilians. While these attacks were usually carried out in the name of Palestinian nationalism, the rhetoric used by these organizations sometimes included expressions of anti-Semitism.

The rhetoric of some Muslim religious leaders at times constituted an incitement to violence or hatred. For example, the television station controlled by the Palestinian Authority broadcast statements by Palestinian political and spiritual leaders that resembled traditional expressions of anti-Semitism.

In a sign of positive change, the Friday sermon of December 3, broadcast on Palestinian Authority Television, preacher Muhammad Jammal Abu Hunud called for the development of a modern Islamic discourse, to recognize the "other," to treat him with tolerance, and to avoid extremism and violence.

Saudi Arabia

There were frequent instances in which mosque preachers, whose salaries are paid by the Government, used strongly anti-Jewish language in their sermons. Although this language declined in frequency since the May 2003 attacks in Riyadh, there continued to be instances in which mosque speakers prayed for the death of Jews, including from the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.

Anti-Semitic sentiments, ranging from statements by senior officials to editorial cartoons, were present in the print and electronic media. The local press rarely printed articles or commentaries disparaging other religions.

NGOs have reported on intolerance in the Saudi education system, and in particular the presence of anti-Semitic content in some school textbooks. Saudi authorities have taken measures to address these concerns, including in 2003 the wholesale review of textbooks to remove content disparaging religions other than Islam.

The official Saudi tourism website previously contained a ban on the entry of Jews among others into the Kingdom; on March 1, the Government removed this ban from the site replacing it with a statement regretting "any inconvenience this may have caused."


The Government barred Jewish citizens from government employment and exempted them from military service obligations, due to tense relations with Israel. Jews also were the only religious minority group whose passports and identity cards noted their religion. Jewish citizens must obtain permission from the security services before traveling abroad and must submit a list of possessions to ensure their return to the country. Jews also faced extra scrutiny from the Government when applying for licenses, deeds, or other government papers. The Government applied a law against exporting any of the country's historical and cultural treasures to prohibit the Jewish community from sending historical Torahs abroad.

Several NGOs reported that the press and electronic media contained anti-Semitic material. A Syrian production company created a TV series, Ash-Shatat ("The Diaspora"), an anti-Semitic program, and filmed it inside the country. The theme of this program centered on the alleged conspiracy of the "Elders of Zion" to orchestrate both world wars and manipulate world markets to create Israel. The show was not aired in the country, but it was shown elsewhere. The closing credits of the programs give "special thanks" to various government ministries, including the security ministry, the culture ministry, the Damascus Police Command, and the Department of Antiquities and Museums.

There were occasional reports of friction between religious faiths, which could be related to deteriorating economic conditions and internal political issues. For example, in 2003, there were reports of minor incidents of harassment and property damage against Jews in Damascus perpetrated by persons not associated with the Government. According to local sources, these incidents were in reaction to Israeli actions against Palestinians.


Since 1999, the Government has not permitted registration of a Jewish religious organization in Djerba; however, the organization performed religious activities and charitable work unhindered. There were unconfirmed reports of a few incidents of vandalism directed against the property of members of the Jewish community. The Government took a wide range of security measures to protect synagogues, particularly during Jewish holidays, and Jewish community leaders said that the level of protection that the Government provided increased during the reporting period. Government officials and private citizens often cited the country's tradition of religious tolerance as one of its strengths.

United Arab Emirates

In August 2003, the Government closed the Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up, a local think tank that published and distributed literature, sponsored lectures, and operated a website. The center published some materials with anti-Jewish themes, and hosted some speakers who promoted anti-Jewish views. The Government stated that it closed the center because its activities "starkly contradicted the principles of interfaith tolerance" advocated by the president.


In June, the Government issued a press release accusing Jews in northern Yemen of backing a rebellion in Sa'da; however, the Government shortly thereafter retracted the statement. The media was prone to conspiracy stories involving Jews and Israel. After the ruling party tried to put forward a Jewish candidate, the General Election Committee adopted a policy barring all non-Muslims from running for Parliament.

Anti-Semitism in the Western Hemisphere

Overall, anti-Semitism was not a widespread problem in the Western Hemisphere. Countries such as Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, and Bolivia reported isolated acts of anti-Semitic graffiti and anti-Semitic material on Internet sites, mostly by small neo-Nazi and skinhead organizations. Authorities in these countries investigated anti-Semitic incidents and prosecuted responsible parties.

Anti-Semitism remained a problem in Argentina. The number of reported anti-Semitic incidents has stabilized in recent years, although there was an increase in documented reports towards the end of the year. NGOs continued to report vandalism of several Jewish cemeteries, threats to Jewish institutions, sales of Nazi memorabilia, graffiti, and display of Nazi symbols. Authorities continued investigations of anti-Semitic acts and launched public efforts to promote interethnic and interreligious understanding.

Canada experienced an increasing number of anti-Semitic incidents in recent years, including a school bombing, physical violence, and vandalism of synagogues, schools, cemeteries, and private houses in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods. B'nai B'rith Canada estimated 600 cases of anti-Semitism during the first 8 months of the year.


There have been a number of recent anti-Semitic incidents. Notable incidents during the reporting period included vandalism of Jewish cemeteries (including the Israeli Cemetery of Ciudadela on the outskirts of Buenos Aires that was vandalized on several occasions), numerous anti-Semitic remarks, threats to Jewish institutions, sales of Nazi memorabilia, and graffiti and display of Nazi symbols (including a school bus belonging to a Jewish school defaced with Nazi symbols in November). In 2003, the Delegation of Israeli Argentine Associations (DAIA) Center for Social Studies reported 177 anti-Semitic incidents. DAIA had not compiled final figures for the year, but expected to report a similar number of incidents as 2003. The DAIA noted that anti-Semitic incidents made up 7 percent of the complaints received by the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Racism (INADI) in 2003.

A City of Buenos Aires legislator came under considerable attack following accusations that she made anti-Semitic remarks to a city employee who she subsequently fired. The city legislature investigated the case, and the legislator admitted the facts and publicly apologized, but the legislature was unable to obtain the necessary votes to sanction officially the legislator. INADI issued its determination that the city legislator had committed "ethnic-religious discrimination" under the provisions of the 1988 Federal Anti-discrimination Act and will submit its finding to the city legislature, which may take up the case again in its next session.

There were no developments in the investigations of the January 2002 desecration of a Jewish cemetery in the Buenos Aires suburb of Berazategui, the April 2001 letter bomb received by Alberto Merenson, or in other open cases. The Government also reported that there were no developments in the investigation of the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy. The investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA cultural center, which killed 86 people, resulted in the issuance of international arrest warrants for 12 Iranian officials and a Lebanese national associated with Hizballah. In September, a 3-judge panel acquitted 22 Argentinean defendants charged in connection with the bombing, but the Argentine Government has pledged to continue the investigation and efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.


There were isolated reports of anti-Semitism, and there were signs of increasing tension between Jewish and Muslim citizens. Leaders in the Jewish community expressed concern over the continued appearance of anti-Semitic material on Internet websites compiled by neo-Nazi and "skinhead" groups. There were no reports of violent incidents directed at Jews during the reporting period, although there were reports of anti-Semitic graffiti at synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, and Jewish community centers in Campinas, Curitiba, and Recife. There also were reports of harassment, vandalism, and several anonymous bomb threats and threats of violence via telephone and e-mail during the reporting period. In September 2003, the Supreme Court upheld a 1996 Rio Grande do Sul state court conviction for racism of editor Siegfried Ellwanger, who edited and wrote anti-Semitic books. The lower court's ruling sentenced Ellwanger to a prison term of 2 years, although this sentence subsequently was converted to community service.


According to the League for Human Rights of B'nai B'rith, the number of anti-Semitic incidents has been steadily increasing over the last decade, with the number of reports doubling from 2001 to 2003. B'nai B'rith reported that there were 600 incidents of anti-Semitism during the first 8 months of the year, surpassing the total reported during 2003.

During the reporting period, there were several acts of anti-Semitism at schools, including the firebombing of a Jewish school in Montreal in April and several incidents of hate speech at Ryerson University in Toronto. In May, authorities arrested three persons in connection with the firebombing, including two 18-year-old youths, and charged them with arson and conspiracy. There were also numerous reports of vandalism at Jewish schools, cemeteries, and synagogues during the reporting period. In June, vandals toppled more than 20 gravestones in the historic Beth Israel cemetery in Quebec City, a designated national historic site.

Senior government officials, including the Prime Minister, have acknowledged that violence directed against the Jewish community was a growing problem and condemned anti-Semitic acts when they have occurred.


During the reporting period, the country's Jewish community did not encounter violence, harassment, or vandalism. There were occasional protests associated with the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, but the Government acted quickly to offer protection. In 2003, both houses of Congress unanimously passed the Federal Law for Preventing and Eliminating Discrimination. The law's fourth article explicitly mentions anti-Semitism as a form of discrimination.


In April, anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi statements were painted in and around Jewish cemeteries. The graffiti was quickly painted over by authorities, although no arrests were made. In 2002, a limited outbreak of anti-Semitic graffiti and propaganda received media attention. Several citizens, including a former minister, were defamed in the graffiti, and there were reports of harassment by telephone. In response, the police arrested three juvenile "skinheads" and confiscated their weapons. The adolescents were indicted and were awaiting trial at year's end.


Statements by senior government officials supporting Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Islamic extremist movements raised tensions and intimidated the country's Jewish community. There were several reports of anti-Semitic graffiti at synagogues in Caracas and two reported threatening phone calls made to Jewish community centers. In August, President Chavez cautioned citizens against following the lead of Jewish citizens in the effort to overturn his referendum victory. Anti-Semitic leaflets also were available to the public in an Interior and Justice Ministry office waiting room.

In November, the Venezuelan Investigative Police searched the Jewish Day School in Caracas, claiming to have reports of weapons cached on the school grounds. According to media reports, rumors of an Israeli connection to the assassination of a Venezuelan federal prosecutor prompted the search. (The federal judge who issued the search warrant was also leading the investigation into the prosecutor's death.) The police found nothing, but their 3-hour search disrupted the school day and alarmed parents. Leaders of the Jewish community expressed outrage following the incident.

Anti-Semitism in East Asia and the Pacific

Anti-Semitism was not a widespread problem in East Asian Pacific countries, where Jewish communities were small. There were overt anti-Semitic incidents in Australia and New Zealand where the communities were somewhat larger.


The Federal Parliament and most state and territory legislatures passed motions condemning racism against the Jewish community following publication of an Executive Council of Australian Jewry report that noted a continuing, significant level of anti-Semitic attacks. There was a small decrease in anti-Semitic incidents in Australia this year compared to 2003, in contrast to the gradual increase seen in recent years. On January 5, anti-Semitic slogans were burned into the lawns of the Parliament House in the state of Tasmania. Between February and July, several Asian businesses and a synagogue in Western Australia's capital city of Perth were firebombed or sprayed with racist graffiti. In August, a Perth court convicted three men, two of whom were associated with the Australian Nationalist Movement, a Neo-Nazi group, for their roles in the attacks. The ANM members were sentenced to jail for periods of 7 and 10 months.

New Zealand

In August and September, headstones of Jewish graves were smashed or desecrated in two cemeteries in and around Wellington and Wanganui, and a Jewish prayer house was burned in the Wellington area. The Government condemned these actions, and an investigation was ongoing at year's end. The heads of the city's Muslim and Jewish communities said that they believed anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim attacks there were the work of someone outside their communities who wished to incite racial tension between them. The Human Rights Commission, which is Government funded, actively promoted tolerance and anti-bias on the issue.


In an October 2003 speech to the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in the country, then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that, "Jews ruled this world by proxy." Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who succeeded Mahathir 2 weeks after the speech, subsequently emphasized religious tolerance towards all faiths. During the period, the Government promoted Islam "Hadhari", which emphasized tolerance towards other religions and a moderate, progressive interpretation of Islam.

Anti-Semitism in South Asia

Anti-Semitism is not an issue of any significance in India, nor in the smaller South Asian countries, specifically Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, and Bhutan.


Although there are very few Jewish citizens in the country, anti-Semitic press articles are common in the vernacular press. NGO sources point out that since India's 1992 establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, the Pakistani media, both mainstream and Islamic, sometimes refers to India as the "Zionist threat on our borders." Nonetheless, the attitude of the media is not reflected in the actions of the Government. The Government cooperated in the capture of those responsible for the 2002 abduction and killing of Wall Street Journal Correspondent Daniel Pearl.

Anti-Semitism in Africa

With the exception of the occasional report of an anti-Semitic article appearing in newspapers, anti-Semitism in general was not a problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa. There are very small Jewish populations in most African countries, and embassy reports overwhelmingly indicate that they do not face problems. The vast majority of governments generally respect religious freedom.

South Africa

South Africa has largest populations of Jews on the continent with an estimated 80,000. While there were occasional reports of desecration and vandalism or verbal or written harassment, no violent incidents were noted during the reporting period. 18-03-2004

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