The WZO’s annual report on global anti-Semitism released Monday finds that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a resurgence of anti-Semitic activity and beliefs.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) released its annual report on the state of global anti-Semitism. This year’s report details a spike in global anti-Semitism, partially attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.
The report found an 18 percent increase in violent anti-Semitic incidents worldwide from 2018 to 2019. Both the Poway synagogue shooting in California, in which one woman was killed and several worshippers were seriously wounded, and the attempted Halle synagogue attack in Berlin, which led to the deaths of two bystanders and wounding of two others, occurred in 2019.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, anti-Semitic activity has increased online, with “Jews, Zionists and Israelis, as individuals and as a collective, being accused of causing and spreading the coronavirus.” However, the practice of blaming Jews for the world’s ills is hardly a new phenomenon.
“Blaming Jews for ‘why things go wrong’ is a common practice as old as anti-Semitism itself,” says the report, prepared by veteran anti-Semitism researcher Eli Nachum.
WZO Vice Chairman Yaakov Hagoel reached out to the heads of global Jewish communities, organizing a meeting to develop a strategic response and offer support. Hagoel said in a statement, “The findings of the report show that the scourge of anti-Semitism has already become a malignant disease that disperses its poison around the world.”
“We have already seen this phenomenon in the Middle Ages during the Black Plague. Then, as today, there is incitement against the Jewish community and a false accusation that somehow Jews are behind the epidemic. Nevertheless, we will combat this deadly phenomenon.”
According to the report, “major violent events are generally reported and recorded as presented here, whereas more minor violent incidents – threats and harassment, face-to-face abuses, insults, accusations, shaming or graffiti, are under-reported in some countries, and cannot be counted even where detailed reporting is available.”
This suggests that the real numbers may be significantly higher than stated in the report.
Researchers surveyed local Jewish communities by country and region about their feelings of physical safety and security for the future. Forty-two percent of Jews in Europe reported seriously considering emigrating from Europe because of anti-Semitism in the last five years.
Seventy-five percent of European Jews felt their governments’ responses to anti-Semitism were ineffective, up from 70 percent in 2018.
French Jews reported a particularly bleak view of the situation in their country, where several deadly anti-Semitic attacks took place in recent years. Seventy percent of French Jews say they have been the victim of anti-Semitic harassment, with 23 percent suffering from physical violence at least once.
Ten percent of French Jews reported experiencing multiple incidents of physical violence because of their Jewish identity. Seventy-seven percent of French Jews feel that anti-Semitism is increasing, and 67 percent consider the level of anti-Semitism in France to be “very high.”
Researchers also found a disturbing connection between the Poway and Berlin synagogue shooters. Both were extremely active in online communities, sharing anti-Semitic propaganda and participating in discussions in hate group message boards and chats.
“What happens on the internet does not stay on the internet,” the report warns.