US State Department: anti-Zionism fuels antisemitism

By Nathan Guttman, March 19, 2008
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A groundbreaking report compiled by the US State Department recognises anti-Zionism as a form of antisemitism and points to Arab states, European countries and even the United Nations as responsible for allowing this strain of prejudice to develop.

“Antisemitism couched as criticism of Zionism or Israel often escapes condemnation since it can be more subtle than traditional forms of antisemitism, and promoting antisemitic attitudes may not be the conscious intent of the purveyor,” the report states.

The annual report released by the State Department is intended to monitors worldwide occurrences of antisemitism and to map the contours of the problem.

The report does not contain conclusions and does not carry any practical weight in shaping US policy. Yet it is considered a standard to which other countries and international institutions might be held by America and as such it won praise from leading Jewish groups in the US.

“We are encouraged by the outcome of the report, which boldly identifies the growing problem of antisemitism through an anti-Israel lens,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee.

“These manifestations, as they appear at the UN, in the Arab media, and especially from Iran, are, to say the least, deeply troubling.”

Jewish lawmakers also welcomed the report and called on the administration to take action to counter this new form of antisemitism.

The report is officially presented to Congress by the State Department’s office of the special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism.

Its authors decided to dedicate it to the memory of congressman Tom Lantos, who died last month at the age of 80. Mr Lantos was the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in the US Congress and was a leading voice in the fight against any form of racism and genocide.

Israel and its supporters in the US have long claimed that several UN agencies apply double standards when dealing with Israel which amount to antisemitism.

The State Department report validates these claims, stating that these agencies “sensationalised reports of alleged atrocities and other violations of human rights by Israel”.

The new report also points to Arab states, especially Iran, as responsible for the promotion of anti-Israeli and antisemitic rhetoric.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is cited in the report as questioning the Holocaust and holding a conference advocating the idea of Holocaust denial.

Syria is also mentioned as a state which “routinely demonises” Jews. Egypt and Saudi Arabia win their place in the document for allowing antisemitic propaganda in their state-run media outlets.

The State Department also details antisemitic events in Europe and pays special attention to the murder of Ilan Halimi in France last year.

Yet the report does not provide exact numbers of antisemitic events around the world, since in many non-Western countries there is no accurate tally of such events. Reports compiled by American groups recorded a slight decline in antisemitic events in the United States.

While not supplying statistics, the document does conclude that anti-semitism is on the rise internationally, based on reports delivered by US embassies around the world.

“Today, more than 60 years after the Holocaust, antisemitism is not just a fact of history, it is a current event,” the report states.

    Last updated: 12:43pm, June 4 2008