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The Media Line: Sharp Rise in Jew-hatred Around the World in 2021

Sharp Rise in Jew-hatred Around the World in 2021

‘The struggle against antisemitism has failed,’ professor says

By Adi Koplewitz/The Media Line

There was a sharp rise last year in “antisemitic incidents in most countries with large Jewish populations,” according to the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University.

The center’s annual report, released on Wednesday, documents a dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, and Australia, among other countries. The increase stems from the strengthening of both the radical Right and Left political movements and the capacity of social networks to spread lies and incitement, the researchers found.

A surge in conspiracy theories resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 11-day Israel-Hamas war in May 2021, generated acute surges of antisemitism, they noted.

“The struggle against antisemitism has failed. There’s no other way of putting it when we see how much antisemitism is on the rise,” Prof. Uriya Shavit, head of the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, said in an interview with The Media Line.

“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,” he added. “What we really need is a courageous and unsparing examination of the efficacy of existing strategies.”

The report is based on an analysis of dozens of studies from around the globe, alongside information from law enforcement authorities, the media, and Jewish organizations in various countries.

In New York City last year, police recorded 214 anti-Jewish hate crimes, compared to 126 in 2020, and in Los Angeles, police recorded 79 such crimes, compared to 40 in 2020. A total of 251 antisemitic incidents were recorded in the US over three weeks, during the riots around the Israel-Hamas conflict in May.

The Anti-Defamation League recorded a 27% increase from 2020 and a 113% increase from 2019 in incidents of white supremacist antisemitic propaganda. These data are particularly disturbing given that there was a slight decrease in the overall number of white supremacist propaganda distributions.

Numbers in other countries with big Jewish communities also paint a grim picture.

In May 2021, B’nai Brith Canada reported 61 physical assaults against Jews – the most in one month since monitoring began in 1982. Altogether 226 incidents were recorded during May – a 54% increase from the same period in 2020.

Researchers say this rise in violent incidents is most likely related to the military operation conducted by Israel in the Gaza Strip at the time.

Another country affected by the counterterrorism operation is France: The Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive (Jewish Community Protection Service), in cooperation with the French Interior Ministry, recorded 589 antisemitic incidents in 2021, a 74% increase from 2020 but a 14% decrease from 2019.

“I was very surprised to see how bad the numbers of anti-Jewish incidents were. 2020 is an unusual year in history, so it’s a bit hard to compare it to anything, but even when we compared the number of incidents to 2019, we got a very pessimistic picture,” Shavit said.

“As for the reasons, there are several possibilities. We have to remember that antisemitism at its core is conspiracy theories directed at Jews. Conspiracies are created when people are unhappy with the explanations they have for reality, so they create alternative explanations,” he continued.

Some anti-vaxxers accused the Jews of developing the COVID-19 vaccines in order to make a fortune. The vaccines’ success and Israel’s efficient vaccination campaign specifically only served to reinforce these false accusations.

Anti-vaxxers also introduced flawed comparisons between state-required vaccination and the situation of Jews in the Holocaust, leading to trivialization of the mass murder. In one instance, a photo of Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO and the son of Holocaust survivors, was published alongside that of infamous Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele, to imply that both experimented on human beings for evil purposes.

“Not everything is bad. There are places where we see a decline in antisemitism, and there are surprisingly positive developments in the Arab world regarding propaganda. But altogether, at least in the big centers of the Jewish Diaspora, antisemitism is here to stay, and it’s defiantly growing,” Shavit told The Media Line.

Another factor Shavit mentions is the deepening split between Left and Right around the world. “The rise of extremists in global politics is a very convenient environment for antisemitism and violence,” he explained. “Both right and left movements don’t do enough to stop this phenomenon at an early stage.”

As for solutions, Shavit isn’t optimistic. “We know for sure that the struggle against Jew-hatred won’t be centralized or monitored by one party. But we at least need to rethink the current methods.”

The Media Line reached out to Israel’s diaspora affairs minister, Nachman Shai, but a response was not received by press time.

 

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