Tag: Anti-Semitism

Fight Online Antisemitism

Kantor Center Joined 125 International Organizations in a Call to Adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism, In Light of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the Spike in Antisemitism on Social Networks

Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University joined 125 international, Jewish and non-Jewish, organizations that published a joint call to social networks, including Facebook, to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism in order to fight online antisemitism.

Despite the efforts that have been done, social networks haven’t officially adopted yet a clear policy regarding racism and antisemitism, which gives platform to numerous antisemitic posts in the name of the freedom of speech. It should be noted that up until now, around 40 countries and many organization adopted the Working Definition of Antisemitism.

According to the IHRA’s definition: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Prof. Dina Porat, Head of Kantor Center, who was among those who formulated the international definition, emphasizes that in the last few months, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a spike in blatant antisemitic statements on social networks worldwide. According to her, most of the incitement on social networks comes from extremist organizations, which turn the ‘freedom of speech’ to ‘freedom of incitement’. “We see antisemitic expressions even among young people who post offensive posts on social networks and spread them to various user communities worldwide. Unfortunately, social networks that do not block or remove offensive posts, are giving a platform to those dangerous sayings, even without meaning it.”

Prof. Port adds: “The IHRA Definition has become a yard stick, a declaration of values: Those who join its adoption are committed to countering of antisemitism, and of other parallel evils. It’s high time that the major social networks, Facebook first and foremost, use the IHRA definition as a criteria to identify antisemitic expressions, and uproot them immediately, thus exercising their responsibility to help create a world better than the one we are living in.”

A worldwide wave of antisemitism unleashed by COVID-19 pandemic

The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, published a special report: a summary of worldwide antisemitic phenomena associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The report relies on hundreds of accounts from different locations around the world, and come from an international network of colleagues, living in 35 countries, who identify and classify acts of anti-Semitism, which are added the material to The Moshe Kantor Database on Antisemitism. The network was established by Tel Aviv University over 30 years ago and today numbers about 60 participants. The database is an up-to-date collection of materials and resources on trends and events related to contemporary antisemitism, which includes English summaries based on source materials in all languages and formats including texts, visuals and audiovisuals. Professor Dina Porat, Head of the Kantor Center said: “These common motifs perpetuate antisemitic accusations from previous generations and other global catastrophes, once again presenting the well-known image of the Jew. However, the antisemitism generated by the coronavirus is fiercer and more intensive, has continued unremittingly for several months, and reflects a high level of anxiety and fear in many populations. This having been said, the situation should be seen in its overall context — in which others are also blamed for spreading the virus: first of all, the Chinese, 5G antennas and the authorities who allegedly are not doing enough to stop the epidemic. Countries close down their borders, every foreigner is a suspect, and no new immigrants are allowed”.

Antisemitism in the age of coronavirus

Coronavirus-related antisemitism is manifested in many parts of the world: A significant portion comes from the US and from Middle Eastern countries such as Iran and Turkey as well as the Palestinian Authority, but also from Europe and South America. While in the US, accusations come mainly from white supremacists and ultraconservative Christians, pointing the finger at Jews in general and Haredi Jews in particular, accusers in the Middle East mostly blame Israel, Zionism and the Mossad for creating and spreading the virus and intending to make a vast fortune from medications and the vaccine they are already developing. In the western world, the main elements promoting antisemitic discourse are civil society groups with various ideologies, while in the Middle East some of this discourse is put forth by the regimes themselves. Dr. Giovanni Quer adds: “Universal disasters have been attributed to the Jews and to Israel before, giving rise to antisemitic discourse — such as conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11, or false reports accusing Israeli soldiers of harvesting organs from the bodies of dead Palestinians. The current wave of antisemitism is unprecedented, however, because, spreading very swiftly through the social media, it focused at first on the COVID-19 crisis and then quickly moved on because of social and political changes: Just a few days passed between the coronavirus crisis and the racism-related social crisis in the US, but antisemitic discourse remained just as fierce, with its proponents simply adapting their antisemitic narratives to the changing social contexts.”

Antisemitic Manifestations Worldwide – 2019 and the Beginning of 2020

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.

Violent attacks against Jews worldwide spiked 13% in 2018

The U.S. saw highest number of cases – over 100 – of severe violence against Jews in the world, annual Tel Aviv University Kantor Center study reports

Thirteen Jews were murdered in the world in 2018, and the number of other major violent anti-Semitic attacks, including assault, vandalism and arson, spiked 13% from 342 to 387 incidents worldwide. The U.S. registered the highest number of violent attacks on Jews – over 100 cases – followed by the U.K. at 68 incidents and France and Germany, both of which respectively saw 35 violent attacks on Jews in 2018, according to the annual report by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, published on Wednesday, May 1st.

The report did not include figures from the recent attack near San Diego on the Chabad of Poway Synagogue, in which one woman was killed and three others wounded.

A state of emergency

“There is a growing sense that Jewish people in many countries are living in a state of emergency,” Prof. Dina Porat, Head of the Kantor Center and Chief Historian of Yad Vashem told reporters at a press conference held at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday. “Physical insecurity and the questioning of their place in society and in the parties that were once their political home are more prevalent than ever.”

“Anti-Semitism peaked recently in a manner that casts doubt on the very existence of Jews in many parts of the world,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the Jewish European Congress, was quoted as saying in a press release. “As we have seen following the second mass shooting incident at a U.S. synagogue, many parts of the world are no longer safe for Jews as we though they were in the past.”

The Kantor Center’s annual report, a global overview of anti-Semitic incidents, is based on surveys conducted by recognized watchdogs from dozens of countries, including nearly all European Union member states.

The normalization of antisemitism

According to the report, “The year 2018 and the beginning of 2019 witnessed an increase in almost all forms of anti-Semitic manifestations, in the public sphere as well as the private one. Thirteen Jews were murdered during 2018, the largest number compared to previous years. Anti-Semitism is no longer a part of the activities of the triangle made of the far right, the extreme left and radical Islam. It has mainstreamed, and become a constant reality.”

The report comes a day after the Anti-Defamation League published its own report, which found that violent attacks against Jews in the U.S. doubled last year. The New York-based group counted 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents — harassment, vandalism or physical assault — in 2018. That is a 5% decrease from the 1,986 incidents reported in 2017, but the third-highest total since ADL began tracking the data in the 1970s.

“People in Europe, in France especially, are on the frontlines, they are dealing with anti-Semitism,” Prof. Porat said. “But we have to address anti-Semitism in the context of broader racism in the world. We are not alone. Other minorities are suffering. We should suggest a coalition, an umbrella organization to work together in this fight, extending a hand to other groups who are suffering, like the Roma.”

“We cannot fight anti-Semitism as if it is just a Jewish problem,” concluded Adv. Ariel Zuckerman, Chairman of the Kantor Center Board. “Anti-Semitism is always a moral barometer for the state of the world, for the broader context of widespread racism, and we are sounding a siren.” 

Australian Friends of Tel Aviv University

1/459 Toorak Road, Toorak VIC 3142
Phone:  +61 433614222
Email: office@aftau.asn.au