The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday lambasted Venezuela and Bolivia over their decision to sever diplomatic relations with Israel, calling the move "inflammatory and offensive."

The decision also sends the message that the countries' leaders side with the Islamist Hamas movement, the ADL said in a statement.

"The political decision to expel Israel's representatives coupled with approval of and support for Hamas and its Iranian backers are dangerous signals that officials in the Chavez regime question Israel's right to exist and stand with those who systematically engage in hatred of the Jewish people," ADL National Director Abe Foxman wrote in the statement.

"The immorality of these actions in the face of Israel fulfilling the basic right of any country, to defend itself against attacks on its civilians, is transparent," he wrote, adding:

"Equally disturbing is the message being sent to Jewish communities living in those countries that there is no place in Caracas or La Paz for Israel's diplomats."

Venezuela earlier this month expelled Israel's ambassador in Caracas to protest the Israel Defense Forces' offensive in Gaza. The move came just hours after President Hugo Chavez called the attacks a "holocaust."

Bolivian President Evo Morales, a close Chavez ally, followed suit by cutting of his country's ties with Israel for apparently the same reason.

Chavez in 2006 threatened to break ties with Israel over its five-week war in Lebanon in a diplomatic spat that led both countries to withdraw their envoys.

In its statement on Tuesday, the ADL cited the move as having spurred anti-Semitic sentiment and unleashing "an outpouring of anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of synagogues, Jewish-owned businesses and city plazas, the appearance of Nazi imagery in anti-Israel rallies and appeals to boycott Jewish-owned and Israeli businesses."