Worldwide Anti-Semitism Report Documents Alarming Uptick In Violence

Violent attacks against Jewish people have spiked significantly over the last year ― leading Jewish communities around the world to feel increasingly marginalized and anxious about their safety, researchers at Tel Aviv University have found. 

The number of violent attacks against Jewish people rose by 13% in 2018 compared to the previous year, according to an analysis from the university’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry. The researchers tracked 387 incidences of violence, with the highest number of cases coming from the U.S. (over 100 cases), the U.K. (68), France and Germany (35 each).

One of the worst episodes of violence the researchers recorded was the October 2018 massacre of 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. The shooting was the deadliest attack on a Jewish community in U.S. history.

Memorials outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Nov. 3, 2018.

Memorials outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Nov. 3, 2018.

Days before the anti-Semitism report was published on Wednesday, a shooting at California’s Chabad of Poway left one woman dead and three others injured, including the synagogue’s rabbi.

Although the U.S. had a high number of violent incidents, the most dramatic spike in anti-Semitic violence and threats took place in Western Europe. Germany experienced a rise of about 70%. There’s also been a significant uptick of anti-Semitism in France. The French government documented 541 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, a 74% increase from the year before. Eighty-one of the incidents involved physical violence, such as the murder of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll in her own Paris apartment. 

Even with the increase in assaults, the Tel Aviv University researchers said vandalism (56%) and threats (23%) are still the main ways anti-Semitism manifests itself around the world. 

The most disturbing development researchers noticed after sifting through the data was the psychological toll that anti-Semitism is taking on Jewish communities. The researchers said that many Jews do not report the anti-Semitic incidents they experience because they are “too many and too frequent to handle.”

Flowers and placards outside Mireille Knoll's apartment during a silent march in Paris on March 28, 2018. The 85-year-old wom

Flowers and placards outside Mireille Knoll’s apartment during a silent march in Paris on March 28, 2018. The 85-year-old woman escaped the Nazis 76 years ago but was stabbed to death in her Paris apartment, apparently targeted because she was Jewish.

Jews in some countries are experiencing an “ominous feeling of insecurity,” the researchers said, with many feeling like outsiders in countries where their families have been living for centuries.

“They do not feel an integral part of society anymore and sometimes they even sense a state of emergency,” the researchers wrote on the Kantor Center’s website. “Antisemitism is mainstreaming, even normalized as a constant presence, in the public as well as in the private sphere.”

The Kantor Center’s annual report on anti-Semitism is timed to coincide with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins at sundown on Wednesday. 

A day earlier, the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League published its own audit of anti-Semitism in the country. The ADL recorded 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, including instances of harassment, vandalism and assault against Jewish institutions and Jewish people.

“It’s clear we must remain vigilant in working to counter the threat of violent anti-Semitism and denounce it in all forms, wherever the source and regardless of the political affiliation of its proponents,” ADL’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement.

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