State Department: Anti-Zionism is the New Anti-Semitism

New forms of anti-Semitism are emerging around the world, promoting prejudice against Jews by attacking Israeli policy and Zionism, the philosophic underpinning of a Jewish state, the State Department reported Thursday.

While common throughout the Middle East and in Muslim communities, the new anti-Semitism is not confined to those populations, said the report, prepared by the office of the special envoy for monitoring anti-Semitism.

For example, the report cited frequent requests to the United Nations to commission investigations of reports of alleged atrocities and other human rights violations by Israel.

Unremitting criticism of Israel is mounting, the report said, and Israeli policy is sometimes likened to the Nazis. At the same time, the report to Congress said, there is a failure to pay attention to regimes guilty of grave violations.

This has the effect of reinforcing the notion that the Jewish state is one of the greatest sources of abuse of the rights of others "and thus, unintentionally or not, encourages anti-Semitism," the report said.

While Israel's policies and practices must be subject to criticism and scrutiny to the same degree as other countries', "those criticizing Israel have a responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in promoting hatred of Jews," the report said.

It was issued with a tribute to Tom Lantos, the Holocaust survivor who was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee until his death last month. Lantos, instrumental in persuading the State Department to monitor anti-Semitism, was praised as "a leader of moral force and a champion of human rights."

His successor, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., said in a statement that the report "provides evidence of a disturbing resurgence in anti-Semitism around the globe."

"All too often, legitimate criticism of the state of Israel can veer into naked anti-Semitism characterized by vile hate speech," Berman said. "And all too often it goes unchallenged."

The report singles out Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a Holocaust denier whose government practices official anti-Semitism against its Jewish minority, and the Syrian government as routinely demonizing Jews.

In Belarus, state enterprises produce and distribute anti-Semitic material, and in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez has publicly demonized Israel and used stereotypes about Jewish financial influence and control, the report said.

Government media in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have become "vehicles for anti-Semitic discourse," the report said.