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updated 1/5/2005 4:39:28 PM ET 2005-01-05T21:39:28

The State Department on Wednesday released its Global Anti-Semitism Report, which describes a continuing and rising trend of anti-Semitic acts and statements in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

In addition to vandalism and verbal harassment, the report chronicled physical abuse of Jews in 12 European countries.  

"At the end of 2003, and continuing into this year, some Jews especially in Europe faced the dilemma either of hiding their identity or facing harassment and sometimes even serious bodily injury and death,” said the report to the Senate and House foreign relations committees.

“The stereotype of Jews as manipulators of the global economy continues to provide fertile grounds for anti-Semitic aggression," stated the report.

One major conclusion was that the "problem is still rapidly outpacing the solution.”

While the efforts by European governments and international groups to acknowledge and fight the problem were lauded, the report cited "uneven" enforcement of the law in various nations and called for police to be specially trained in dealing with hate crimes. It also promoted increased education as a means to combat the problem.

Anti-Semitism among Muslims
The report, which covers the period between July 2003 and December 2004, gave no worldwide totals but did include statistics provided by some countries.

In Eastern Europe, the report found most anti-Semitic acts to be perpetrated by the right wing fringe, but said in Western Europe skinheads, ultranationalists and "disaffected Muslim youths" have been contributing to the sentiment and acts.

As more Muslims move to Western Europe, the report predicted the upward trend will continue.

The report also cited anti-Semitism in Middle Eastern countries, despite dwindling Jewish populations in North Africa and the Middle East, with the exception of Israel.

Governments condoning anti-Semitism
But, the report found that beyond Europe and the Middle East — anti-Israel statements by governments and others often stray into anti-Semitic commentary.

Syria condones and supports “a virulent domestic anti-Semitism” as government-supported media demonize Israel and its leaders, according to the report.

In Pakistan, where there is no Jewish community, anti-Semitic sentiment fanned by press articles is widespread, the report said.

Anti-Semitism in countries where there are virtually no Jews is a recent phenomenon, the State Department told Congress.

Freedom of expression can fan fires
The report found freedom of expression to be an impetus for anti-Semitism in some cases. Because the "proliferation of media outlets…has vastly increased the opportunity for purveyors of anti-Semitic material to spread their propaganda unhindered."

The report noted that "freedom of expression safeguards” in some instances “limited the preventive measures" that governments in some countries were able to take.

Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., who pushed for annual State Department reports and for close monitoring through a new office in the department, welcomed the first global report on anti-Semitism.

“It is only a beginning,” said Lantos, the senior Democrat on the House committee. “The department must act quickly to appoint an advocate of substantial rank and experience to coordinate our government’s response to the current outbreak of anti-Semitic violence.”

Tammy Kupperman is the NBC News State Department Producer. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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