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August 12, 2016 5:27 pm

Annual State Department Report on Global Religious Freedom Paints Startling Picture of Jewish Life in Middle East

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Jews in the Middle East are continually discriminated and harassed across the region, a US State Department report found. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Jews in the Middle East are continually discriminated against and harassed, a US State Department report found. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A recent US State Department report on religious freedom around the world paints a disturbing picture of Jewish life in the Middle East.

The annual “International Religious Freedom Report,” which analyzes levels of religious freedom around the world, was highly critical of Muslim countries and their often oppressive laws and actions against minorities.  

In Algeria, non-Sunni Muslims and people of other religions, including Christians and Jews, “often kept a low profile” after coming under threat or experiencing intolerance, the report said. Antisemitic anti-Zionism was also found among government leaders, including the Algerian president’s chief of staff, who accused a rival of trying to “help the Zionists” and “selling Algeria to the Jews.”

In Afghanistan, the report listed only one Jewish person as a resident of the country.

In Iran, the regime continued its practice of “restrictions and discrimination against Jews.” According to the Tehran Jewish Committee, the principals of Jewish schools are required to be Muslim and schools must remain open on Saturdays, “in violation of Jewish religious law,” the report said. While the government supposedly allows Hebrew instruction in Jewish schools, the distribution of Hebrew texts, “particularly nonreligious texts,” are limited, “making it difficult to teach the language.”

In Yemen, the Jewish community’s predicament is even more dire. Locals in Amran continue their “harassment of Jewish community members,” the report said, “including by throwing stones and coercion to convert to Islam.” Out of fear for their lives, Jewish students continue to stay away from public schools even as attempts to establish private Jewish schools are blocked.

The media in Muslim majority countries, the report found, plays a large role in contributing to antisemitism and antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism.

The Egyptian government, the report said, “generally failed to take action against or condemn antisemitic comments that appeared in both government-owned and private media.”

“Talk show hosts occasionally approved the killing of Jewish civilians and failed to distinguish between Jews and supporters of Israeli policies in broadcasts critical of such policies,” the report explained. “Private Salafist media sometimes included antisemitic programming that glorified or denied the Holocaust, including in interviews with academics and clerics. There were reports of imams using antisemitic rhetoric in their sermons, including allegations that Jews were responsible for the ‘spilled blood’ of Muslim Palestinians.”

In Turkey, an antisemitic film — which “paints the Jews as the country’s biggest enemy” — was “broadcast repeatedly on private television channels and posted on the websites of several pro-government media outlets,” the report found.

In Jordan, editorial cartoons, articles and public statements by politicians echoed antisemitic tropes and “conflated anti-Israel sentiment with antisemitic sentiment.” In Saudi Arabia, Jews are continually portrayed using “stereotypical images…along with Jewish symbols, particularly at times of heightened political tension with Israel.”

In the country’s legal system, Jews in Saudi Arabia are also largely discriminated against. For example, should a court rule in favor of a Jew in a case of compensation for accidental death or injury, the Jewish plaintiff “is entitled to receive only 50 percent of the compensation a Muslim male would receive,” the report said.

The findings of the State Department’s report, covering the year 2015, are in line with the general rise in global antisemitism and violent acts of Jew-hatred.

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  • Muhammad

    Some new vocabulary for all:

    Dhimma (“dh” is pronounced like the “th” in these or those) — The aspect of shariah law, and the system it creates, imposed by Islam on select groups to ensure that they remain submissive to Islamic supremacy. It dates to the Seventh Century. The groups include Jews, Christians and Sabaeans. Members of religious groups not on this list are subject to immediate slaughter for being polytheists. Among other aspects, the dhimma requires that religious buildings that require repair do not get them, that dhimmis (see below) may not ride horses or carry weapons, that they walk in the street to allow a Muslim to use the sidewalk, and that they pay an annual tax called the jiziya for the privilege of not being killed. The dhimma is the ultimate ancestor of all systems of racial and ethnic discrimination including apartheid. The yellow badge the Nazis required of Jews has its origin in the dhimma; Christians wore a pink marker.

    Dhimmi (plural dhimmis) — a person belonging to one of the groups subject to the dhimma who accepts this status by submitting to Islamic demands, either by actually paying the jiziya or serving its interests by defending Islam against accurate depictions of the life it creates. The efforts of the MSM to defend Islamists and delegitimize Israel and Jews mark them as dhimmis.

    Wherever shariah law is in place, the dhimma follows. It is already coming to Europe. Get ready, it is coming to you too.

  • Sherlock Holmes

    Are Jews allowed to live in Saudi Arabia?

  • We live in the real world…and in doing so…..honestly……..what CAN we actually do to stop these anti -Semitic actions from taking place….??

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    The US State Dept openly and freely pushes for antisemitism to flourish throughout the mideast and the world, generally. Like the UN, if you eliminated Jew hatred their workload would be reduced 90-95%.

  • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

    Well really no surprise here is there.Only surprise is that Obama and his anti-Israel mates in the State Department did not try to amend or lighten the report to appease the Muslim countries mentioned. Today the countries of the Islamic world are the standard bearers of classical European-style anti-semitism of the blood libel variety.The truth is that such racist behaviour is a sad reflection on them (the Muslims) and their dishonourable values rather than on the great and noble Jewish people!

  • Johan Rhodius

    And what does the US and the rest of what once was called the free West does about this:
    The great silentio, a devastating nothing, a Ever Again in stead of Never Again.

    The stategy of the non muslim world which faces – and already has had an increasing number of infringes on our freedom ( attacks on cartoons, free speech – when one wants to say something critcal of islam or positive of Israel/Jews, which shows in a nutshell what it is all about ? – and our lifes (Nice etc and very minor, but costly in the perception of not living as the Dutch want, time and money: our airport Schiphol, half hour from here, where there is already for two weeks hightened security causing delays).

    While the west should stand with Israel and the Jews worldwide and say and D0:
    Who touches Israel and the Jews touches us and that will be considered as touching us and be dealt with likewise:
    Any attack on Israel and the Jews should be retaliated. No funding of the Palestinian Authority who has only as purpose to destroy Israel and the Jewish people and very sharp criticism of anybody who expresses himself negatively on Israel and the Jews:
    Has anybody, organisation or state asked the International Olympic Committee ( which moreover is composed of mostly non muslims.; where are they ? ) to take action against just to mention two anti -Iisrael incidents:
    The Lebanese delegation refusing to let the Israeli delegation to board a bus which takes them from the Olympic Village to the stadium and the Egyptian judoka who refused to shake the (outstretched ) hand of the Israeli judoka. By the way, I fully understand why this muslim judoka does so: if he shakes hand it will cost him his life.
    That is a reason the more to condemn strongly his behaviour ( also to protect himself and other muslims who are very welcome, like any body to the Olympic Games, but on the conditions and regulations of the games and any sport or other activity:
    Fair play and no discrimination.
    This judoka and any other any other discriminatory action has to be met by the words of its chairman at the opening ceremony: no discrimination and if so out.

    Instead of standing up for Israel and the Jews, the west has become one of the fiercests opponents of Israel and the Jews.

    That leads to or is already the death of the West :
    exactly the aim of the islam : first destroying Israel and then destroying the rest of the non -muslim world.

  • Frosty7530

    By coincidence, I’ve been recently reading a few books on the Weimar republic and Nazi Germany in the early days of 1930’s. It appears to be very similar to what Jews in Middle Eastern countries other than Israel I can not understand why those Jews are not getting out of these hostile countries. Their situation is not likely to improve.

  • Carl Goldberg, PhD

    There should be no surprise at all the rampant anti-Semitism in the Moslem countries. After all, the sacred texts of Islam, — the Koran and the sayings of Muhammad — command Moslems to make war against the Jews and either subjugate them to Islamic rule or to kill them. There are many passages in the Islamic sacred texts which engender hatred of Jews.

    By the way, the general rise in global anti-semitism is largely a result of minority Moslem communities in Europe, America and elsewhere in the non-Moslem world.

  • Ber Lazarus

    Seriously? Startling? Anyone who thinks this report is in any way startling has been living under a rock for the past 70 years at least.

  • Holy Shirt

    What about Lebanon? Syria? Jordan? Israel? Gaza?

  • Alan Bly

    So? What else is new? That’s the most appropriate response to this. The even bigger problem is that Western leaders, political parties like Labour in Britain, newspapers and news outlets all over the “enlightened countries” like The Independent and even the New York Times, Reuters, and so many more continue to ignore this and continually make Israel out to be the most evil of all nations. This Jew-hatred that persists and permeates the Middle East and Arabists elsewhere is just a cautionary tale of how no matter what Israel offers in negotiations, no matter what “painful concessions” it has made and might make, it will never be accepted. What should Israel do? Continue to be strong and move along making itself the best of all lands in the Middle East…by leaps and bounds.

  • Myron Slater

    It’s time for all of us to move to Israel!