Rob Lattin is Jspace News' Foreign Affairs Correspondent. In addition to covering foreign affairs for Jspace, Rob is a blogger on Israeli and Middle Eastern foreign policy for the Foreign Policy Association, as well as a freelance writer. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The US State Department recently released the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report. The usual suspects were all given their fair share of the spotlight. Bahrain, Russia, Iraq, and Nigeria were singled out for their violence against minority religions; Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia were admonished for their use and abuse of blasphemy laws; and China, North Korea, Iran, and Eritrea for ongoing state religious repression.
There was also a detailed section about a growing wave of anti-Semitism. The report’s executive summary stated:
"This report also documents a global increase in anti-Semitism, manifested in Holocaust denial, glorification, and relativism; conflating opposition to certain policies of Israel with blatant anti-Semitism; growing nationalistic movements that target “the other;” and traditional forms of anti-Semitism, such as conspiracy theories, acts of desecration and assault, “blood libel,” and cartoons demonizing Jews. In Venezuela, the official media published numerous anti-Semitic statements. In Egypt, anti-Israel sentiment in the media was widespread and sometimes included anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denial or glorification. Web sites promoting Holocaust denial operated with Iran's consent. In France, the report documents desecration of Jewish synagogues and cemeteries. Hungary saw the rise in popularity of an openly anti-Semitic party, the Jobbik party. Jewish property was defaced in Ukraine, including a synagogue and several Holocaust monuments. In both Ukraine and the Netherlands, soccer matches were marred by anti-Semitic slogans."
Jspace has spoken directly to individuals from Hungary and Venezuela about the anti-Semitic movements going on in their respective countries. At the AJC Global Forum Dr. Ferenc Olti, a prominent Hungarian Jewish communal leader, told Jspace that Jobbik is “deeply committed to Nazi philosophy.” In 2009, Jobbik official Krisztina Morvai wrote online, “I would be greatly pleased if those who call themselves proud Hungarian Jews played in their leisure with their tiny circumcised dicks, instead of besmirching me. Your kind of people are used to seeing all of our kind of people stand to attention and adjust to you every time you fart. Would you kindly acknowledge this is now OVER. We have raised our head up high and we shall no longer tolerate your kind of terror. We shall take back our country.”
Venezuela is also in a dire situation. At a private meeting at the AJC Global Forum Venezuelan representatives told Jspace that there was state sponsored anti-Semitism, and that if things continue on its current path, there is a strong chance that the Venezuelan Jewish community could number in the hundreds over the next few years. The country’s Jewish community fell from 18,000 to 9,500 between 2000 and 2010.
While Israel was given okay marks for its toleration of religious freedom, the report did cite that there is clear government and legal discrimination against its non-Jewish and non-orthodox Jewish citizens.