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Antisemitism Jewish World

Sharp rise in violent antisemitic attacks worldwide in 2019

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456 severe and violent incidents of antisemitism reported

By ILANIT CHERNICK

Violent incidents of antisemitism saw a dramatic increase of 18% in 2019.

This according to a recently released report on worldwide antisemitism conducted by The Kantor Center. The report found that in 2019, there were 456 severe and violent incidents of antisemitism worldwide in comparison to 387 incidents in 2018. 

This is the highest number of violent attacks reported since 2014, which saw 766 such incidences worldwide.

The number of physical antisemitic attacks also rose in 2019 by 22%, while the number of life-endangering threats increased by 47%.

At least 169 people, making up 37% of the major violent cases, were physically attacked, mostly in a public space like on streets, at schools, near Jewish institutions, and some close to or even in their homes.

Devastatingly, seven Jews were killed in antisemitic incidents last year.

At least 53 synagogues and 28 community centers and schools were defaced or strewn with antisemitic graffiti, while 77 cemeteries and memorial sites were desecrated.

Countries that saw high numbers of antisemitic incidents included the UK with 122 and the United States with 111, while Germany and France were both reported as having 41.

In Australia, 33 incidents of antisemitism were reported over 2019.

Last year, there were  242 incidents of antisemitic vandalism, 131 threats were made against Jews and there were 47 weaponless antisemitic attacks.

“There has been a significant rise in accusations that Jews, as individuals and as a collective, are behind the spread of the virus or are directly profiting from it.”

Following the release of the report, Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) lamented that not only have the numbers increased substantially but the worst types of attacks grew, which should be extremely disturbing for leaders and authorities around the world,

Kantor warned that the coronavirus pandemic has also led to a serious surge in antisemitic incidents, especially online where Jews are being blamed for the pandemic. 

“There has been a significant rise in accusations that Jews, as individuals and as a collective, are behind the spread of the virus or are directly profiting from it,” he said. “The language and imagery used clearly identifies a revival of the medieval ‘blood libels’ when Jews were accused of spreading disease, poisoning wells or controlling economies.”

Kantor stressed that unfortunately, such manifestations “are continuing the consistent rise of antisemitism over the last few years, especially online, on the streets and in mainstream society, politics and media.”

With the increased use of social media, especially where direct social contact is more and more suppressed because of the pandemic, he said that conspiracy theories and hate are easily spread and this provides “simplistic answers for the growing anxiety among the general public.”

Kantor called on global leaders to also deal with the rise of populism and extremism that could result from the financial fall-out from the pandemic, adding that the 1929 Great Depression led to the rise of Nazism and fascism.

“As unemployment numbers will begin to spiral out of control, more people may seek out scapegoats, spun for them by conspiracy theorists,” Kantor said, adding that “our leaders need to address the problem of growing extremism and hate now, to get ahead of the problem that is already at our door.”

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