Muriel Rosin, speaking for the Central African Board of Jewish Deputies, said Zimbabwe's 1,000-member Jewish community deplored a 'derogatory statement about Jews', reportedly made by Mr Mugabe on Friday. A letter asking for clarification was delivered to his office yesterday.
The Chronicle newspaper, published in Bulawayo, said Mr Mugabe made his remarks during a tour of a peasant farming area in western Zimbabwe. He was told by peasants that white ranchers had refused to allow livestock belonging to peasants to graze on private land, despite worsening drought in the area.
'Commercial farmers are hard-hearted people, you would think they were Jews,' the Chronicle reported Mr Mugabe as saying.
Ms Rosin said the Jewish community was 'horrified and distressed' by the reported remark. 'Throughout history, our experience has shown that such statements by those in power can spark terrible anti-Semitism.'
Mr Mugabe resumed a tour of drought-stricken provinces yesterday and there was no immediate comment from his office.