The State Department has named a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism as a new report documents a glo-bal increase in incidents of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Ira Forman, former CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, was chosen as special envoy as the State Department released its annual report on religious freedom around the world. The report says expressions of anti-Semitism by government officials, religious leaders and the media were of great concern, particularly in Venezuela, Egypt and Iran. At times, the report says, such statements led to desecration and violence.

Secretary of State John Kerry called the report a “clear-eyed, objective look at the state of religious freedom around the world” and said that in some cases, the report criticizes U.S. allies and would-be allies.

Besides anti-Semitism, the report notes frequent government restrictions on religion and policies that make it hard for citizens to choose or practice their faith. “Governments that repress freedom of religion and freedom of expression typically create a climate of intolerance and impunity that emboldens those who foment hatred and violence within society,” the report says, singling out China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Cuba, among other countries, for criticism.

The report also cites the use of blasphemy laws to harass, detain and abuse government critics, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. In Saudi Arabia, it cites cases where activists were charged with apostasy and blasphemy, which can result in death.

Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, said the new envoy shows U.S. resolve to fight anti-Semitism.

2012 Religious Freedom Report: