Antisemitic Manifestations Worldwide – 2019 and the Beginning of 2020

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First came Halle, and then the Corona

In honor of Yom haShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry has released its Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide for 2019. 

The Recent Coronavirus-inspired antisemitism should be closely monitored, yet taken in proportion – 2019 witnessed a rise of 18%  in major violent cases compared to 2018 – seven people were killed – and a rise in most other manifestations –  antisemitic expressions continue to infiltrate from the fringes of society into the mainstream – a growing discrepancy between on-the-ground reality and governmental efforts – troubling trends in Germany and the U.S. – achievements in the U.N., E.U. and Israel, in monitoring antisemitism on the web and in legislating it – 52 heads of states declared commitment to remember the Holocaust and fight antisemitism  –  surveys continue to raise awareness about the surging antisemitism.

  • The Coronavirus-inspired antisemitic expressions constitute forms of traditional Jew-hatred and of conspiracy theories. So far, these accusations appear to be promoted mainly by extreme rightists, ultra conservative Christian circles, Islamists, and to a minor extent by the far-left, each group according to its narrative and beliefs – such as different conspiracy theories as well as the image of the Jew as a producer of diseases.
  • 2019 witnessed a rise of 18% in major violent cases compared to 2018 (456 cases in 2019 compared to 387 in 2018), seven Jews and non-Jews were killed during antisemitic attacks, and a rise in most other manifestations, in most countries. At least 53 synagogues (12%) and 28 community centers and schools (6 percent) were attacked. An increase in life-endangering threats (47%) and in attacks on private properties (24 %).
  • The return of traditional, classic antisemitic stereotypes as well as the intensification of anti-Israeli and Islamist antisemitism, have contributed to the growing role of the antisemitic discourse that moved from the fringes of society into the mainstream public discourse.
  • According to a 2019 FRA report, 41% of Jews aged 16-34 have considered emigrating from Europe because of antisemitism over the last 5 years. Antisemitism as the main factor pushing for emigration, might be enhanced by the perceptions regarding governments’ responses and efforts to antisemitism, which are overwhelmingly considered inadequate.
  • In Germany, the shooting at the Halle synagogue, on October 9, has become a landmark in the antisemitic activity in Germany that embodies all the present problems. The police registered 1839 antisemitic incidents nationwide, 5 cases a day (!), mostly perpetrated by neo-Nazis and extreme right-wingers. The role of radical Muslims in everyday harassments is yet to be fully formally assessed. Additionally, surveys have shown that the knowledge about the Holocaust is diminishing in Germany, and that Jewish pupils are increasingly harassed by their Muslim classmates.

In the U.S., a new phenomenon is emerging, one of increased violent antisemitic manifestations, with shooting sprees and numerous casualties,  inspired  mainly by right wing ideologies as well as by certain groups within the Black Hebrew Israelites and  the Nation of Islam. Perpetrators of major antisemitic violent attacks in 2019 were active in disseminating antisemitic propaganda online, through international networks of likeminded activists. Anti-Zionism expressed in antisemitic terms was rampant among left wing activists as well, especially in reaction to warm Israeli-American administration relations, depicted as Israeli-Jewish deliberate attempts to dominate and manipulate American policies and leaders.

  • Underreporting by Jews in some countries is corroborated by the number of perpetrators still unidentified.
  • Significant achievements during 2019:
    • The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief presented a report to the U.N. General Assembly entitled “Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance,” warning against growing antisemitism inspired by Nazi and Islamist ideologies.
    • The European Union established a working group consisting of national special envoys to guide Member States in implementing steps against antisemitism.
    • The German – and Austrian – parliaments defined the BDS as a movement that uses antisemitic tactics, and reached a resolution according to which “the pattern of argument and methods of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic.”
    • The World Holocaust Forum, initiated and supported by Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish congress, held its fifth meeting on January 23, 2020 in Yad Vashem, under the auspices of President Reuven Rivlin. It was a tremendous success, with heads of 52 states coming to declare their commitment to “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism”.

According to the report  there’s “a continuing downward trend in violent events versus an increase of antisemitic verbal and visual expressions, especially on social media.” These findings, along with a wave of refugees and the growing rise of extreme right-wing political entities, have been a cause for great concern among Jewish communities. 

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