WASHINGTON – A rise in the number of Muslims in Western Europe, many of them poor and uneducated, is contributing to an increase in already deeply rooted anti-Semitism (search) there, the State Department said in a report to Congress.
However, far-right groups still account for a significant proportion of attacks on Jews and Jewish property, the report said.
In eastern Europe, skinheads (search) and other members of the radical political fringe are responsible for most anti-Semitic incidents, according to the report, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
In Russia, Belarus and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, anti-Semitism remained a serious problem, with most incidents carried out by ultra-nationalists and other far-right elements.
"The stereotype of Jews as manipulators of the global economy continues to provide fertile grounds for anti-Semitic aggression," said the report to the Senate and House foreign relations committees.
The report, which covered the period between July 2003 and December 2004, gave no worldwide totals but did include statistics provided by some countries.
There are dwindling Jewish populations in the North Africa and the Middle East, except for Israel, and there are few incidents involving Jews who remain in those areas. But Syria (search) condones and supports "a virulent domestic anti-Semitism" as government-supported media demonize Israel and its leaders, the report said.
Beyond Europe and the Middle East "there are also worrying expressions" of anti-Semitism, the report said.
In Pakistan, where there is no Jewish community, anti-Semitic sentiment fanned by anti-Semitic press articles, is widespread, the report said. Anti-Semitism where there are virtually no Jews is a recent phenomenon, the State Department told Congress.
In Europe, where millions of Jews died in the Holocaust (search), anti-Semitic acts have increased both in frequency and severity since 2000, the report said.
The sense of safety and security of Jewish communities has been disrupted, the report said.
Contributing to the trend, the report said, is a rising Muslim population with "long-standing antipathy toward both Israel and Jews" as well as developments in Israel, the occupied territories and Iraq.
In Europe and other regions of the world, many governments have become increasingly aware of anti-Semitism and have spoken against it. Countries such as France, Belgium and Germany have taken effective measures to combat anti-Semitism and have increased protection for Jewish communities and Jewish properties, the report said.
Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (search), said "the U.S. should be applauded for its leadership in recognizing the reality of the problem, which is the old anti-Semitism and the newly Muslim extremist-engendered anti-Semitism.
"It is forthright in recognizing the changing nature and threat of anti-Semitism, its connection, and its virulent demonization of Israel and Zionists," Foxman said in a statement.