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Press ReleaseIsrael/Middle East
ADL denounces claim by Muslim leaders that Pokemon game is “Jewish Conspiracy"

New York, NY, April 10, 2001 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today denounced as "outrageous and incendiary" the accusation by several Muslim religious leaders that Jews and Israel are behind an alleged conspiracy to lure Muslim children into gambling and other immoral activities. A Saudi religious leader has declared that the popular Pokemon children’s game, which originated in Japan, is little more than a "Zionist conspiracy" to influence Arab children. Several religious leaders have issued fatwas banning its use.

"It is outrageous and incendiary for some Muslim religious leaders to extend their warped Jewish conspiracy theories to a children’s toy that has found broad acceptance the world over," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This is only the most recent in a constant stream of rhetoric filtering out of Muslim nations blaming Jews and Israel for a host of ills against Arab populations. However outrageous these accusations seem to outsiders, they are part of a mantra in the Arab world that blames Jews and Israel for spreading disease and attempting to corrupt the morals of Arab populations. As a result, an Arab public already eager to cast stones against the State of Israel accepts these baseless accusations as whole truths."

Among the spurious accusations leveled against the children’s game, some Muslim religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt claim that Pokemon is a Japanese word that translates, "I am Jewish." The religious leaders accuse Jews of planting religious symbols, including the Star of David, among the images found on Pokemon trading cards. Sheikh Abdel Moneim Abu Zant, a Saudi religious figure, has declared: "The Pokemon craze is a Jewish plot aimed at forcing our children to forgo their faith and values and to distract them from more important things such as scientific ambitions."

In December 1999, responding to concerns raised by ADL, Nintendo of America Inc., the distributor of Pokemon products in the United States, discontinued a card bearing the image of a swastika. At the time, ADL commended Nintendo for its sensitivity to the feelings of Jews and others who might be offended by the image.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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