Tag: Anti-Semitism

Antisemitism in 2021: War and Covid-19 Catalyzed Global Uptick

TAU researchers stress need for reevaluation of strategies to combat antisemitism.

On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry issues its annual report on the state of global antisemitism

Antisemitic incidents dramatically increased over the past year in almost all countries with large Jewish populations, according to the Antisemitism Worldwide Report 2021 published by The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University.

Released annually on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the report is based on dozens of studies from around the globe, alongside information from law enforcement authorities, media, and Jewish organizations in various countries. It is the 28th-annual report of its kind issued by the Center.

The authors report a dramatic rise in the number of antisemitic incidents in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and Australia – as well as other countries. In most countries the increase was particularly notable compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

WATCH: The Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry on The Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide ​​​​​​

Key Findings

  • 251 antisemitic incidents were recorded in the US, in only three weeks during the riots around the Israel-Hamas conflict in May. According to the annual survey of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), 2.6% of American Jews said they had been the victims of antisemitic physical attacks in the past five years. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recorded a 27% increase from 2020 and a 113% increase from 2019 in incidents of white supremacist antisemitic propaganda. 

  • In France, 589 antisemitic incidents were recorded in 2021, a 74% increase from 2020 and a 14% decrease from 2019. 

  • In May 2021, B’nai Brith Canada reported 61 assaults against Jews in Canada. Altogether 226 incidents were recorded that month – a 54% increase from the same period in 2020. 

  • In the UK, 2,255 antisemitic incidents were recorded in 2021, an increase of 34% from 2020. A sharp rise of 78% compared to 2020 was recorded in physical assaults against Jews.

  • German Police recorded 3,028 antisemitic incidents during 2021 – an increase of 29% from 2020, and 49% from 2019. Another worrying phenomenon registered in 2021: German anti-vaxxers likened their situation to that of the Jews in the Holocaust. The authors of the Report argue that this has led to trivialization of the Holocaust. 

  • 447 antisemitic incidents were recorded in Australia in 2021 – an increase of 35% from 2020 and 21.5% from 2019. The highest monthly total ever was recorded in May – 88 incidents.

The authors found similar phenomena in a range of countries: Dr. Inna Shtakser examined the rise of state-sponsored antisemitism under Belarus’ authoritarian leadership; Dr. Carl Yonker and Dr. Lev Topor investigated how antisemitic white supremacists are penetrating mainstream American conservatism; Dr. Ofir Winter analyzed voices in the Arab world that paint the Abraham Accords with unmistakably antisemitic colors; and Adv. Talia Naamat demonstrated the challenges for French courts in prosecuting Islamist antisemitism.

Need to Re-Strategize

“In recent years, the fight against antisemitism has enjoyed extensive resources worldwide, and yet, despite many important programs and initiatives, the number of antisemitic incidents—including violent assaults—is rapidly escalating,” said Prof. Uriya Shavit, Head of the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at TAU’s Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities..

Despite certain successes outlined in the Center’s January report on positive trends combating antisemitism, Shavit stressed that the latest findings demonstrate that some strategies are clearly not effective. “The easy thing is to say that more laws and more funding are required,” he said, adding that the situation demands “courageous and unsparing examination” of the efficacy of some of the more prevalent strategies in battling antisemitism.

“The Jewish world must pull itself together and understand that the fight against antisemitism and the fight for liberal democratic values are one and the same,” he concluded.

What Caused the Sharp Increase?

According to the report, the increase stems from the strengthening of both the radical Right and Left political movements in different countries and widespread fake news and incitement on social media networks. Specifically, the number of antisemitic incidents around the world was directly impacted by two major events: The May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas (Operation Guardian of the Walls), and the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • The 2021 Israel-Hamas Conflict: The authors of the Report note that the operation in Gaza led to a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents around the world, and “exposed an unacceptable reality: when Israel defends itself, Jews across the world are attacked.”
  • Covid-19: From the onset of the pandemic in 2020, conspiracy theories began to sprout around the world, blaming Jews and Israel for spreading the virus, reminiscent of centuries-old blood libels. The lockdowns, which glued people to their screens at home, contributed significantly to popularizing harmful antisemitic discourse on social networks. In 2021, when the lockdowns were gradually eased, antisemites returned to the streets, and physical violence against Jews increased.

The report questions the utility of legislation and agreements reached with social media companies on banning antisemitic expressions from their platforms. The gravest concern is the dark web, which shelters extremists of all types, and where antisemitic content is freely and openly spread. The report also notes that Iran invests substantial time and funding in spreading antisemitic propaganda online, focusing their campaigns mainly in the United States and Latin America. 

Read the full report here >> 

Annual Review – Positive Trends in Fighting Antisemitism and Radicalization around the World

The Holocaust exhibit in the Crossroads Of Civilizations Museum (CCM). Photo credit: Ofir Winter of the Kantor Center.

The Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University presents for the 1st time

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2022

The Report was presented to Israel’s President Isaac Herzog on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Legal precedents in the battle against antisemitism l   Enhanced resources to protect Jewish communities l Expanded restoration of Jewish cemeteries l  Top sports teams join the battle against antisemitism l The Arab World’s first Holocaust memorial exhibition |

The Holocaust exhibit in the Crossroads Of Civilizations Museum (CCM). Photo credit: Ofir Winter of the Kantor Center.

Highlights from the Report include:

  • The legal arena: A series of encouraging precedents in fighting antisemitism were set during 2021, restraining the so far almost unrestricted dissemination of hate propaganda. One important example was the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights against a Bulgarian MP who had disseminated antisemitic tropes in his books.
  • The political and legislative arena: Governments around the world increased the resources allocated to protecting Jewish communities, appointed special envoys for fighting antisemitism, and adopted the Working Definition of Antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
  • The cultural arena: A rising trend of restoring Jewish cemeteries was observed in Eastern Europe, while in Western Europe and North America leading sports associations and teams raised the banner of the fight against antisemitism.   
  • The Middle Eastern arena: The Holocaust was meaningfully addressed for the first time by a public museum in an Arab country (the UAE). Other encouraging steps were also introduced by the governments of the UAE and Bahrain.

The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University  presented its inaugural report on Positive Trends in Fighting Antisemitism and Radicalization around the World, including recommendations for policies and activities that can enhance these trends. The Report was presented today, Thursday, to President of Israel Isaac Herzog at a special ceremony held at the President’s official residence in Jerusalem. The ceremony was held in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27 – the day on which the Auschwitz death camp was liberated in 1945.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog: “The global antisemitism crisis is escalating, but the international fight against it is also intensifying. We are witnessing many initiatives for combating antisemitism around the world, and we must encourage and foster these positive trends. Strengthening the light is just as important as fighting darkness. I thank the Kantor Center for its dedicated research and faithful work in monitoring antisemitism worldwide.”

Prof. Uriya Shavit, Head of the Kantor Center, Entin Faculty of Humanities at TAU: “Discourse on antisemitism and radicalization usually focuses on troubling negative trends.  We decided that a positive report, describing encouraging developments and activities, should also be published – for three reasons:  expressing appreciation for those already active; impelling more governments and organizations worldwide to initiate similar activities; and promoting a discussion on concrete proposals for improving existing programs.”

The Positive Trends Report was authored by a team of seven leading TAU experts from various fields, with policy recommendations formulated in a series of brainstorming sessions. Participants include: Dr. Inna Shtasker (restoration of Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe); Dr. Ofir Winter and Dr. Giovanni Quer (encouraging developments in the Gulf); Prof. Dina Porat (political and legislative developments); Dr. Tomer Fadlon (sports); advocate Talia Naamat (legal developments).

Every chapter in the report ends with a series of recommendations for organizations and governments aiming to enhance their fight against antisemitism. Recommendations include: establishing a website that provides comprehensive information and guidance on restoration of Jewish cemeteries in Europe; promoting the teaching of the Holocaust in the Arab world, (dissociated from the context of current events); establishing mechanisms for monitoring governments’ implementation of their pledges to fight antisemitism; and encouraging sports clubs in Eastern Europe to join programs that combat religious intolerance.

Positive trends and events presented in the report

The legal arena

Encouraging trends regarding the fight against antisemitism were observed in courts of law and legislative institutions worldwide.

  • In February 2021, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Bulgarian MP Volen Siderov, founder of the far-right political party ATAKA, who had expressed antisemitic views in his books, published about 20 years ago.
  • Several national courts across Europe also ruled in similar contexts that some forms of hate speech are so virulent that they violate the rights of all persons belonging to the maligned group.
  • The European Commission expanded the ‘EU Crimes’ list to include hate speech and hate crimes.
  • The EU launched its ‘Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life,’ which urges member states to prosecute antisemitic hate speech and hate crimes.
  • The Ukrainian Parliament passed the Prevention and Counteraction to Antisemitism Law in September 2021. The law defines antisemitism in accordance with the IHRA definition and states that persons guilty of violating the law would be subject to punishments under the existing hate crimes law.
  • Several states across the U.S. passed laws to counter recent waves of antisemitism: New York prohibited displaying or selling hate symbols (such as swastikas) on public property; California introduced a hate crimes statute requiring local hate crime policies to recognize religious bias and discrimination bias and law enforcement officers to undergo educational training on hate crimes.

Sports

Racism and antisemitism are rife among sports fans all over the world, but now major sports organizations, including leading teams, have decided to combat the vile phenomenon. The fight against antisemitism in sports is conducted at all levels—from the EU and national associations through the teams, all the way to the fans themselves.

  • On International Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January 2021), the English Football Association (FA) pledged to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition for antisemitism, and football teams in England followed suit.
  • The illustrious Chelsea Football Club launched a new website entitled ‘Say No to Antisemitism,’ marking a concerted effort to clean its own house.
  • The Austrian Football Association adopted the IHRA definition for antisemitism.
  • Two major European football clubs, the German Borussia Dortmund and the Dutch Feyenoord Rotterdam, partnered with the Anne Frank House to develop guidelines for tackling antisemitism in football, as part of an educational program against antisemitism advanced in collaboration with the fans under the title ‘Changing the Chants’.
  • The EU Commission presented a strategy for uprooting antisemitism in sports, with a focus on football.
  • The ‘Global Conference on Football’s Role in Combating Antisemitism’ was held in Vienna.
  • In the U.S. the professional career of NBA player Meyers Leonard ended after his antisemitic slurs during a video game were widely shared on social media. His team, Miami Heat, terminated his contract and he was fined $50,000.
  • In June 2021, Duxbury high school in Massachusetts fired its head football coach Dave Maimron for using antisemitic slurs.

Restoration of Jewish cemeteries.

  • The leading project: Restoration of the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, established in 1806, with the support of the Polish Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with local rabbis and the Cultural Heritage Foundation.
  • In the city of Sosnowiec, Poland, a non-Jewish resident named Sławek Pastuszka found the funds to mow the grass at the rundown Jewish cemetery. High school students from nearby Katowice, led by history teacher Sławomir Witkowski, promised to care for the cemetery in the future.
  • Vladimir Spanik, a 73-year-old member of the village council of Vinodol, Slovakia, spearheaded the restoration of the village’s abandoned Jewish cemetery, in order to instill cross-racial solidarity in the young people of his community. He recruited for the project several boys from the Roma community, which had also suffered during the Holocaust.
  • In the small Polish city of Cieszyn, a museum employee, with the help of a teacher at the Evangelical Society School, recruited students for a Jewish cemetery restoration project, as a concrete way to engage with local history and develop intercultural understanding.
  • In Kielce, a city in south-central Poland, high school students commemorated the 75th anniversary of a post-WWII anti-Jewish pogrom by cleaning the local Jewish cemetery.
  • In the Ukrainian town of Rohatyn a special Jewish heritage project brings together non-Jewish residents and volunteers from across the globe to restore the local Jewish cemetery and research the history of Jews in the region

Images: Ukrainian Jewish cemeteries. Photo credit: Rohatyn Jewish Heritage(RJH).

  • In the village of Chesnyky in Ukraine the local non-Jewish Rosolovska family established a memorial for local Holocaust victims with the support of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine and the Jewish community of Ivano-Frankivsk.
  • The Cultural Heritage Foundation in Poland created a website that provides guidelines for restoring Jewish cemeteries in accordance with the Jewish Halacha.
  • Marla Osborn, a U.S. citizen whose grandmother was born in Ukraine, created an online guide for Jewish Cemetery Preservation in Western Ukraine.

Governments and legislation

Many countries and organizations in the West use a range of tools to combat antisemitism: allocating funds for protecting Jewish communities and relevant training programs; appointing special envoys for fighting antisemitism; advancing legislation against manifestations of antisemitism; organizing international conferences; issuing public declarations; and adopting the IHRA’s Working Definition of Antisemitism.

  • Since 2015, and especially over the last two years, more than 800 bodies worldwide have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
  • Several European countries have appointed special Envoys – officials tasked with monitoring antisemitism, raising public awareness, and promoting legislation to tackle this abhorrent phenomenon.
  • In October 2021, the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism convened in Malmö, Sweden, attended by dozens of delegations and leaders from around the world, who answered the call of Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loeven.
  • At the Malmö Conference the EU launched its Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life. Considered the first-ever concrete action against antisemitism backed formally by an international organization, the program aims to prevent all forms of antisemitism, protect and foster Jewish life in Europe, and promote research and commemoration of the Holocaust.
  • The Canadian government, responding to a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents, launched an action plan – allocating five million dollars to protect Jewish institutions, cemeteries, and monuments, fund education programs, advance legislation and enforcement measures, and promote the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, among other initiatives.
  • Irwin Cotler, Canada’s former Minister of Justice who currently serves as the country’s special Envoy on Antisemitism, invited Jewish students who have experienced antisemitism on campus to tell their stories at an emergency conference.
  • In 2020, Austria published a comprehensive action plan for combating antisemitism and appointed its Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution to oversee the fight against antisemitism.
  • Pope Francis and Cardinal Kurt Koch, Head of the Vatican Committee for Relations with the Jewish people, issued various declarations strongly denouncing antisemitism and advocating close dialogue between Christians and Jews.
  • On his visit to Budapest in September 2021, Pope Francis spoke firmly against antisemitism.

The Gulf

Image: Ahmed Obeid Al Mansoori, Founder of Crossroads Of Civilizations Museum. Photo credit: Crossroads Of Civilizations Museum (CCM).

  • The UAE’s Jewish community is growing rapidly, and already numbers more than 1,000 members.
  • A Holocaust memorial exhibition entitled ‘We Remember’ – the first of its kind in the Arab world – was launched at the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai in May 2021, in the presence of the Israeli and German ambassadors to the UAE. A synagogue has been operating openly in Dubai since late 2018, and a Jewish community center was also inaugurated.
  • The first Jewish school will soon open in Dubai.
  • Abu Dhabi is building the Abrahamic Family House – a joint religious complex including a mosque, a church, and a synagogue of similar height and façade, differing only in their internal design to fit the needs of the different religions. The complex, symbolizing harmony alongside diversity among the three monotheistic faiths, will be completed during 2022.

Image: The Holocaust exhibit in the Crossroads Of Civilizations Museum (CCM). Photo credit: Ofir Winter of the Kantor Center.

  • Hotels in the UAE were instructed to provide kosher food to their Jewish and Israeli guests.
  • Citizens of the UAE and Israel celebrate Muslim and Jewish holidays together, including a joint meal marking both Lag BaOmer and Iftar (which closes every day of fasting during the month of Ramadan).
  • The House of Ten Commandments synagogue in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, was reopened in March 2021 following comprehensive restoration under the aegis of King ‘Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
  • In August 2021, the first celebration of Shabbat services since the late 1940s was held in Bahrain, attended by local public figures.
  • In September, the first Jewish wedding in half a century was celebrated in Bahrain

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Antisemitism – Defined, Yet Running Wild

Widespread adoption of working definition of Antisemitism is contradicted by realities on ground.

What do the governments of Canada, German football club Borussia Dortmund and the Global Imams Council all have in common? They have all adopted the Working Definition of Antisemitism. And they’re not alone – a new study from the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University’s Lester and Sally Entin Faculty of Humanities has revealed that over the past 5 years more than 450 leading organizations, including 28 countries, have adopted or endorsed the Working Definition of Antisemitism, formulated and officially adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, IHRA, five years ago today. At the same time, however, recent reports indicate a disturbing rise in anti-Semitic manifestations toward Jews in hotspots worldwide. Recent weeks have been characterized by displays of violence, animosity and defamation, worse than those observed during the past year’s pandemic.

Hatred Running Wild

The reports were received from places all over the world, in particular through the international network established by the Kantor Center several years ago, which includes about 60 participants who regularly send in information about antisemitism in their countries of residence. Dr. Giovanni Quer conducted the study and emphasizes that we are facing a mixed trend: On the one hand, we are witnessing a positive development, as in a relatively short period of five years, 456 high-impact international organizations and 28 leading countries have adopted the Definition and are working to eradicate antisemitism; governments have allotted funds for protecting Jewish communities and leaders have professed support for their countries’ Jews. On the other, antisemitism is running wild in the social media and in the streets, and there appears to be a gap between declared policies and events in the field.

Antisemitism Defined

According to the Working Definition of Antisemitism, as phrased by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance: “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 facilitiesManifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity… Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for ‘why things go wrong’. It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.” Prof. Dina Porat, former head of the Center emphasizes: “All of these have been observed in events now taking place daily all over the world”.

Who have adopted the working definition by IHRA?

The list of countries that have adopted the Working Definition of Antisemitism includes the US, Canada, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, Hungary, Sweden, Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Czechia, Luxemburg, Kosovo, Cyprus, Argentina, Uruguay and more. The Definition has also been adopted by many organizations around the globe, including dozens of institutions of higher education and student councils, leading religious institutions – including the prominent Moslem organization Global Imams Council, and sports clubs, including Chelsea in the UK and Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in Germany.  Many business corporations, including Volkswagen, Daimler and Deutsch Bank, have also adopted the Definition. The materials used for mapping the adoption of the Working Definition of Antisemitism were collected in cooperation with students of the Struggle Against Antisemitism Program of the School of Tourism at the University of Haifa, headed by Prof. Gabriel Malka and Dr. Elie Vinocour.

A Useful Tool

Dr. Quer explains that the Working Definition is in its essence a non-legally binding document. Instead, it is a useful tool that can facilitate the effective and accurate identification of certain expressions/activities as antisemitic in nature, as part of the global struggle against antisemitism. Its purpose is to assist entities authorized to enforce already existing laws and regulations – such as courts of law, government offices, police forces, parliaments etc. According to Dr. Quer, once adopted, the Definition is applied in the field in many cases, facilitating lawsuits, the cancellation of demonstrations and events with antisemitic contents, fights against discrimination against Jewish students at universities, and more. Thus, for example, following the adoption of the Definition, mayors and managements of academic institutions in different countries have canceled mass events with antisemitic features that were contradictory to the Definition.

No guard against the “New Antisemitism”

At the same time, Dr. Quer emphasizes that the encouraging trend of the Definition’s expanding adoption is no guard against the growing worldwide phenomenon of “New Antisemitism” – antisemitism disguised as political stances against Israel and Zionism.  “Unfortunately, over the past year we have seen a radicalization of anti-Israel standpoints, which are in fact fully and clearly antisemitic,” he adds. “The reports received at the Kantor Center reveal that in many cases severe manifestations of racism and blatant antisemitism are presented as ‘legitimate criticism’ of the state of Israel and its’ government’s policies.”

Antisemitism During the Pandemic: Less Physical Violence, Upsurge in Online Antisemitism

On the Eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry publishes the Antisemitism Report for 2020.

The Antisemitism Report for 2020 – the year of COVID-19 – published today by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Humanities in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress – indicates contradictory trends: On the one hand, a decrease was seen in physical violence resulting from the reduced encounters between Jews and violent anti-Semites due to the lockdowns. On the other hand, accusations against the Jews (allegedly responsible for the global disaster), were manifested in a rise in blatant antisemitic expressions on the internet in general and on social networks specifically. In addition, new phenomena developed on the internet, such as zoom bombing and the darknet, which are difficult to quantify. The Report is based on thousands of testimonies from different places around the globe, received throughout 2020 from the international network established by the Kantor Center several years ago – which includes about 60 participants who regularly send in information about antisemitism worldwide. WATCH the interview with Prof. Dina Porat, Head of the Kantor Center:
According to Prof. Dina Porat, Head of the Kantor Center: “The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting reality dictated both the nature and extent of antisemitism in 2020, which was an unusually tense and turbulent year all over the world. Prejudice, superstition, primordial emotions, and bizarre theories surfaced on the scene, and manifestations of antisemitism, both verbal and visual, were vicious and outrageous. Blaming the Jews and Israelis for developing and spreading the coronavirus (or the ‘Judeovirus’), was the main motif in this year’s antisemitic manifestations. This notion is rooted in a deep fear of the Jew/Israeli as a spreader of disease in both the past and present.” Blaming the Jews and Israelis for developing and spreading the coronavirus (or ‘Judeovirus’) is a graver accusation than any previously made against Jews throughout history: As the pandemic began to spread across the globe, it was immediately followed by accusations that the virus had been developed and was being spread by Jews and Israelis: they are the ones who would find a cure and vaccine for the disease, selling it to the ailing world and making a huge profit. Over the following months this libel spread rapidly. We received reports to this effect from dozens of countries, in the form of aggressive messages and numerous malicious caricatures. Moreover, the accusation was heard not only from extremist circles, such as white supremacists, ultra-conservative Christians, or the usual accusers like Iran, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority, and especially Iran, that invested efforts in disseminating the accusation. It also spread to populations without well-defined political or ideological identities.”

Fewer Encounters, Fewer Violent Events

As noted above, lockdowns in the various countries reduced encounters between Jews and their ill-wishers, and consequently the number of violent events declined from 456 (in 2019) to 371 in 2020 – a number that was typical of 2016-18. No one was murdered this year for being Jewish (although physical attacks could potentially have had fatal outcomes), and the number of bodily injuries decreased from 170 in 2019 to 107 in 2020. Damage to private property was also reduced from 130 to 84 incidents, simply because people mostly stayed at home. In most countries a decrease was registered in the number of violent incidents, attacks on both people and their property, threats and arson. However, vandalism towards Jewish communal property and institutions remained as frequent, and in some cases they became more frequent (see table). The number of desecrations of graveyards, Holocaust memorials and other Jewish monuments (open and unprotected sites) rose from 77 (2019) to 96 (2020) incidents worldwide, and the number of vandalized synagogues (being closed, they became easy targets) also increased from 53 (2019) to 63 (2020).

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.” 

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