New York, NY, November 17, 2003 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the anti-Semitic statements of longtime Syrian Defense Minister Mustapha Tlass, who claimed in published remarks that there exists a "Zionist plot" to take over the Middle East.
"Once again a leader of the Arab world has stepped over the precipice of hatred and blamed the world's troubles on Jews," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and author of the new book Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism (HarperSanFrancisco, 2003).
"It is not surprising that Mustapha Tlass, when faced with the prospect of U.S. economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria, would attempt to lay the blame at the feet of the Jews. Tlass has a long record of anti-Semitism, and blaming Jews in elaborate conspiracy theories is far easier and more convenient than turning the microscope onto your own government's policies."
In comments reported by the Syrian SANA news agency, Tlass said: "There is a bid to implement a colonialist and Zionist plot with a view to securing the riches of the region and undermining its culture and heritage."
Tlass has a long record of outrageous anti-Semitic assertions about Jewish control and devious conspiracy theories. He is the author of the infamous 1983 book, The Matza of Zion, in which he sets out to prove the truth of the 1840 Damascus blood libel.
In 1998, during the controversy surrounding the Monica Lewinsky affair, Tlass declared "it is a plot fabricated by worldwide Zionism." Tlass claimed a "Jewish lawyer" told Kenneth Starr about the Lewinsky affair, concluding "all this definitely proves that worldwide Zionism and particularly American Jews are in the service of Israel."