An antisemitism study centre at Tel Aviv University has reported a “sharp rise” in violent antisemitic attacks against Jews in 2019 compared to 2018 and warned that the coronavirus pandemic is only making matters worse.
It comes as the Kantor Centre reported an 18 percent increase in the number of major violent cases, rising to 456 cases compared to 387 the year before, marking an unwelcome reversal after three years of declining numbers from 2015-17.
At least 169 people were physically attacked last year, mostly in public spaces such as on the streets, at schools, near Jewish sites, and some close to or even in their homes – “a relatively new phenomenon”.
At least 53 synagogues and 28 community centres and schools were attacked, along with 77 cemeteries and memorial sites and 129 private properties. Unprotected sites bore the brunt of the damage and desecration.
Authors of the Antisemitism Worldwide 2019 report said a variety of means were used to attack targets, including firearms, with 15 shooting incidents reported around the world.
They also said more minor violent incidents such as threats and harassment, face-to-face abuse, insults, accusations, shaming or graffiti were “underreported in some countries, and cannot be counted” towards the total.
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), said since the coronavirus pandemic erupted there had been a rise in the number of antisemitic conspiracies relating to the spread of the disease and the economic recession.
“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.
“Unfortunately, these 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.”